Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cocktail Classics: Old Mr. Boston

"Sirs: – May we now present to you Old Mr. Boston in permanent form. We know you are going to like him. He is a jolly fellow, one of those rare indviduals, everlastingly young, a distinct personality and famous throughout the land for his sterling qualities and genuine good fellowship. His friends number in the millions those who are great and those who are near great even as you and I. He is joyful and ever ready to accept the difficult role of "Life of the Party", a sympathetic friend who may be relied upon in any emergency ... Follow his advice and there will be many pleasant times in store for you. Gentlemen, Old Mr. Boston."

Genderisms aside, what a wonderful intro to a vintage bartender's essential.

Last year on the border of Michigan and Ohio, I found a 1953 edition of "Old Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide," the proclaimed bible of booze. The first official edition was published in 1935, two years after prohibition ended (the thirteen-year-long ban on all sale, importation and production of alcoholic beverages in the United States). It was compiled and edited by Leo Cotton for the Old Mr. Boston distillery on 1010 Massachusetts Ave. in Boston.

Old Mr. Boston (later just known as Boston) was renowned for its spirits, but even more so for the Bartender's Guide. With each of the earlier editions, new cocktails were included and old ones adjusted.

In the next couple weeks, I plan to sample a couple of the book's more obscure antique recipes, and report back here. But for now, I've selected a couple of the 1953 editions' more charmingly-titled cocktails and posted them below:

Merry Widow Fizz
Juice 1/2 Orange
Juice 1/2 Lemon
White of 1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 oz. (Old Mr. Boston) Slow Gin
Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 8 oz. Highball glass. Fill with Carbonated Water.

The Income Tax Cocktail
1/4 oz. French Vermouth
1/4 oz. Italian Vermouth
1 oz. (Old Mr. Boston) Dry Gin
1 Dash Bitters
Juice of 1/4 Orange
Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. Cocktail glass.

Note: It seems no one is completely certain how this cocktail got its name. The general consensus though is that the drink's bitter taste reflects the bitter experience of tax season. That, or this strong drink will take the edge off when you start digging out those receipts.

So, what's your favorite classic cocktail?