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Bartending Icon: Harry Craddock

  • Kevin Gray

Harry Craddock

Bartenders. The good ones are impossibly dexterous, effortlessly cool, elegantly nonchalant. And we appreciate that. So we’re honoring the best of the bunch. Next up: Harry Craddock.

Name: Harry Lawson Craddock DOB: 1875 Place of birth: Stroud, England Trade: Bartender Years active: 1897–1947 Locations of employ: Chicago, New York, London Notable employers: The Hoffman House (NYC), The Knickerbocker Hotel (NYC), The Holland House (NYC), The Savoy Hotel (London), The Dorchester Hotel (London) Cocktails invented: 250, give or take Books written: 1 Wax statues at Madame Tussauds: 1

After the jump: 10 highlights from the life of the man who served the last legal pre-Prohibition cocktail in America...»

Bartending Icons: Jerry Thomas

  • Kevin Gray

Jerry Thomas

Bartenders. The good ones are impossibly dexterous, effortlessly cool, elegantly nonchalant. And we appreciate that. So we thought it time to honor the best of the bunch. Up first: Jerry Thomas.

Known as the Father of American Mixology, Jer was a master behind the bar. As a teenager in the late 1840s, he cut his teeth in New York before heading west to tend bar during the California gold rush. He kept traveling, slinging drinks in Chicago, St. Louis, Charleston and New Orleans before settling back in New York, where he manned the bar at the Metropolitan Hotel. (Don’t go looking for it—the opulent structure once stood at the corner of Broadway and Prince, but was demolished in 1895.)

All the while, he was changing forever the way we drink...»

In Defense of Drunken Caroling

Canada: great at exporting comedians, pancake accoutrements and, apparently, fun. Last week, we stumbled across these photos of a 1930s songbook put together by the owners of the venerable Labatt Brewing Company. The book, filled with traditional drinking songs, was given to all employees—as a too-seldom-invoked method of ensuring company bonding.

It’s not that people don’t get drunk and sing anymore (that is the distilled essence of karaoke, after all), but it is rare that grown gentlemen sing together in spirited voice without accompaniment.

Sure, there are exceptions. There’s the occasional shouting of “Hey” during Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part II” at sporting events, fratty sing-alongs of “Sweet Caroline” when it’s closing time at a bar or, most dreadfully, the awkward, all-office version of “Happy Birthday” for that girl who may or may not work in Accounts Receivable.

But for the most part, that’s it. Which is why we’d like to defend drunken caroling...»

A Summer Drink You Should Know and Love: Pastis

  • Najib Benouar

The best drinks always involve a bit of ritual when consuming them. And the upcoming Bastille Day weekend has reminded us of a simple yet refreshingly summery drink we picked up in the South of France: pastis.

The main ingredient is a star-anise-based liquor born from France’s 18th-century ban on absinthe—it’s still got the complex, herbaceous flavor without the ear-lopping strength or need for a flaming cube of sugar to get it down. It’s an acquired taste (vaguely like black licorice), but once you embrace the cooling effect of the bright anise notes, you’ll have found your new summer rooftop accomplice. First and foremost, you’ll want to know how to enjoy it properly.

Grab a bottle of ice-cold spring water and meet us after the jump.»

The Hangover Cures of 1972

Our go-to hangover cure typically involves a buttered bagel and a Bloody Mary, but apparently it can get quite a bit more intricate than that.

We recently ran across this hangover guide from TWA’s in-flight magazine circa 1972 (thanks to Microkhan for the tip). The recommendations are from the age of piña coladas and in-home bars, so there’s quite a bit of grenadine and obscure fruit juice involved. The best part: the reassuring presence of fernet, our favorite overlooked hair of the dog. But naturally, you’ll want to see it for yourself...

See the hangover cures of 1972 up close»

The Strongest Liquor on Earth Comes to America

America, meet poitín.

It’s a traditional Irish liquor that can range up to 190 proof—and thanks to that unusual potency, it was outlawed by the British for nearly 300 years. But in recent decades, the queen has loosened her restrictions, and we’re on the cusp of seeing the first commercially available bottle in America.

The project is raising money on Kickstarter now thanks to an Irish émigré living in the states, and if he manages to raise another $35,000, you can officially add poitín to your liquor cabinet.

The drink itself is pot-distilled from potatoes, sugar and yeast, which means the closest American equivalent is moonshine—but even that’s not terribly close, given the strength of the spirits involved. If you’re curious (and you don’t feel like waiting a month for the first bottle), you can also find it in a few distilleries in Ireland.

Just be ready for some powerful side effects.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Spiking Egg Nog

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s eggnog season—and while most holiday parties get by with either dark rum or bourbon in their mix, we’ve got a tip to set your tincture apart. It’s time to pick up a bottle of brandy.

It’s tastier than the other two options, with floral notes and enough sharpness to add more than just kick to the final mix. Unlike bourbon, it’s not something we normally keep on our liquor shelf, but if you’re mixing up a full bowl of the stuff, that’s hardly a concern.

If you’re really serious, the next step is making your own ’nog—but unless you’ve got a serious yen for whisking, you might be better off sticking with the dairy aisle.

The Taxonomy of Beer

The world of beer has gotten pretty complex in recent years, so we’re glad to have a whimsical poster to translate the world of beer-nerdery into language the masses can understand. This Pop Chart poster tackles 89 different varieties in sum—from wheat-wine to the phonetically satisfying lager known as “Munich Dunkel”—with examples of each and a handy guide to the appropriate stemware. Fair warning: you may need to purchase a snifter.

The Perfect Thanksgiving-Day Digestif

Bitters have been a cocktail go-to for years—and hopefully a bottle or two found its way into your liquor cabinet at some point—but thanks to Brad Thomas Parsons’s Bitters, we stumbled upon some more interesting uses for the magic drops.

So if by some coincidence you find yourself overstuffed with turkey in a few weeks’ time (possibly as a result of excessive thankfulness), a few dashes of Angostura may be just what you need to get back on your feet.

Allow us to explain...»

Winter Chili and the Hottest Pepper on Earth

We usually focus on the “wearing fuzzy things” approach to winter, but there are plenty of other tricks for getting the colder half of the year unchilled, starting with your dinner plate.

So in honor of the dropping temperature, we’d like to walk you through the basics of one of our favorite winter foods: chili infused with the Bhut Jolokia, the hottest pepper on earth.

It’s a little dangerous…but it’s worth it.

The cowardly should stop here, and read no further»