The first Gilded Age was a time of rampant corruption, the big business crooks of Tammany Hall, and lavish displays of wealth rivaled by abject poverty. It was also the period when America’s elite mastered the art of crafting the perfect cocktail. Though there were a few missteps along the way—including the Black Velvet, which included equal parts champagne and, disturbingly, porter—the era birthed the classic cocktails that we drink to this day. But what parties, what people, were around for the debut of the Manhattan? Or the martini, the daiquiri, the pisco sour? Cecelia Tichi, professor of American literature and culture at Vanderbilt University, tells all in her new book, The Gilded Age of Cocktails.
Go beyond the episode:
- Cecelia Tichi’s The Gilded Age of Cocktails
- Tichi mentioned a few other keepers of bartending history: David Wondrich, who wrote Imbibe!; and our own Wayne Curtis, who wrote And a Bottle of Rum and Neutral Ground, a long-running column on our website about all things New Orleans (including alcohol)
- For a reminder on how to partake with class, Michael Fontaine graced the podcast last year to talk about his book How to Drink
- Here’s a great article on how to rustle up vintage cocktail books, like Jerry Thomas’s 1862 classic, The Bar-Tender’s Guide
- A few more how-to manuals to grace your bar: Mittie Helmich’s The Ultimate Bar Book, Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology, Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist, David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (which pairs well with Wayne Curtis’s great essay on reconciling Embury’s legacy with his bigotry)
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