by Pinky Gonzales
with Pink Gin
So much can be said about old glassware and drinking habits that this will be the first of hopefully a few more posts on the subject. We can probably all agree that the pleasure of drinking is only enhanced (or lessened) by the vessel from which it is drunk, whether that be a Julep, shot of whiskey, glass of champagne, pint of Guinness. All of these have their corresponding, appropriate glassware and for good reasons relating to sensory pleasure. But all that aside, what fun would it be to sip a Scorpion Bowl from say, a beer stein? This is not to say that drinking anything out of a beer stein or smelly old shoe for that matter is not okay either - it's your perogative. You're talking to someone who once drank a vintage Montrachet out of a Poland Springs bottle and loved it. In essence, what I and the ladies of LUPEC would like to say is: have some fun, and get yourself some vintage cocktailware.
Who knows who or what the Spatas were? Who cares! Let's make Zombies.
at Buckaroo's Mercantile, Cambridge
Restaurant economics and today's bigger-is-better consumer culture dictate our glass choices in the public sphere. The ubiquitous, sturdy, plain "martini" glass, for instance, in which anything from a Manhattan to a Margarita can be served is the standard in bars and retail today. The best of these stock tasteful, "smaller" glasses, some "modern vintage", roughly 5-8 oz., while the worst sell ginormous (12 oz.!) glasses on which you could prop a cheeseburger as a garnish.
Diminutive, more manageable-sized cocktails were the norm from the dawn of the cocktail in early nineteenth century America upwards through the sixties. Whether "taken" before a meal to stimulate the appetite or to simply loosen one up, a glass of chilled liquor needn't have been supersized to do the trick. Take a closer look at those aperitifs in the hands of James Bond in Dr. No or Powell & Loy in The Thin Man and see for yourself. And what did they do when they felt they hadn't had enough? Well duh, they had another.
David Embury, cocktail aficionado, back in 1948 wrote in his Fine Art of Mixing Drinks that when seeking glassware one should look for "the large ones - not less than 3 ounces." He also added that a glass "should never be filled to the brim," for overfilling places not only "too great a strain on the aplomb of the guest - especially with the second or third drink - but even the few drops of liquor which someone will inevitably spill will not improve either the guests' clothing or the top of your grand piano on which the glass may be placed."
Wouldn't this look good atop your piano?
The place to start is of course not Crate & Barrel but your local thrifts, flea markets, specialty shops and online sites for some vintage stems - or better yet, your Grandma's attic. You don't have to spend a fortune. Check out the great Buckaroo's Mercantile [link: www.buckmerc.com] for random and wonderfully weird tiki and party bits. The flea market Todd Farm [link: www.toddfarm.com] in Rowley on a Sunday for amazing finds, and sites like Rubylane.com for online thrift. Stir up an ice cold beverage and sip from what you found. Toast to your Grandpappy's Meemaw. Toast to Noni, my Midwestern Great-grandflapper, or why not to Jerry Thomas?
"John Collins" serving up a pair of beautiful old silver-mugged mint juleps for lunch. Life is hard.
Don't be a jackass. Not all the time, anyway.