“The way to drink a cocktail” said Craddock, “is quickly, while it’s still laughing at you. Wines, of course, merely smile. They are for the man who takes time.”
The definitive work on the art of the cocktail is Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, first published in 1930. It is the mixologist’s bible, which would make Craddock something like Moses, the prophets and apostles, all rolled into one. Craddock was the barman at the Savoy Hotel in London—not only a hotel that was the height of elegance and sophistication, but the birthplace of some of the most famous cocktails in the world. Craddock compiled 750 of his best recipes and published them in a book with beautiful art deco illustrations by Gilbert Rumbold. It takes you through sours, toddies, flips and slings, and even has a section on “Cocktails suitable for a Prohibition Country.” They go by names such as the Depth Charge, the Pall Mall, the Tanglefoot and the Oh, Harry! (this is one of the prohibition cocktails, “Especially suitable for those countries where they make the best of Prohibition, and where the ingredients for making them are obtainable without much difficulty”). Fascinating reading it makes and gives a whole new meaning to the term “Sunday School.”
We are lucky enough to have a first edition of this book—my husband uses a later edition for reference and keeps the first edition under lock and key. However, the best thing about our first edition, which was originally presented as a gift, is the inscription penned on the fly leaf. In a beautiful hand, written in fountain pen (of course), it says:
To Louis M. Boisot—on his 12th year graduation:
May he live and learn–,
May he live and drink–,
May he drink and live, and
Prosper by his elder drinkers–.
Given this glorious day of June
20, 1932 by his very sincere and
Louis? Jack? We have no idea who you were, but you certainly improved upon the idea of a Cross pen set being a good graduation gift…. Mr. Carhartt, we salute you. Actually, the Encyclopedia of American Wealth (yes, this exits) lists Louis Boisot, Jr among its ranks and a quick web search finds Louis Boisot pere listed in 1916 as a Vice President of Chicago’s First Trust and Savings Bank. Sounds like Auntie Mame was ripe for an intervention. In honor of this eloquence, I have included Craddock’s recipe for the “Savoy Tango Cocktail,” (“This cocktail is a very great favorite at the Savoy Hotel, London, where it was invented”), which is listed somewhere between the Satan’s Whiskers (vermouth, gin, Grand Marnier and orange juice) and the Scoff Law Cocktail (Canadian Club, vermouth and grenadine).
Savoy Tango Cocktail
½ Sloe Gin
½ Applejack or Calvados
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.