Cowboys And Cocktails

Cowboy Bar
Western bars of the late 19th century conjure a universal image of a bottle, a slug of whiskey, a poker hand, and a shootout. Territorial bars were basic. Often 2 barrels and a board in the pitched tent, these venues served miners, trappers, and cowboys the basic staples of drinking - gin, whiskey, and bitters. Make no mistake though... all these places would've rather been a rich and fancy New York, St. Louis, New Orleans, or San Francisco palace - typified by their long mahogany bars, their brass foot rails, and their fancy drinks.

Behind the bar. Workboard circa 1888. Many of the ingredients seen here are still used behind bars today.

The long bars of the great cities were splendid indeed, but by the late 1800s, even small established towns boasted drinking establishments that, thanks to Jerry Thomas and the barkeep writers who would follow him, could proudly mix a fancy Cocktail, Crusta, or Pousse Cafe. Even a Martini, though it would be made with sweet Old Tom Gin, bitters, and red vermouth; the Dry Martini was still 15 or so years in the future. Modern times were on the horizon, though; liquor with new-fangled "lithographed" labels was arriving in glass bottles.
Fancy Cocktails

Exhibit material collected and composed by: Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh
Copyright © 2006 The Museum of the American Cocktail
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