Welcome to the first newsletter of The Museum of the American Cocktail™. We started this project in an effort to bring about a better understanding and appreciation of the historical significance and evolution of the cocktail.
May 13, 1806 heralded the beginning of the cocktail as an American cultural icon. It has taken two hundred years to create an institution that celebrates this unique American invention. With the opening of The Museum of the American Cocktail™ in New Orleans, a legendary cocktail destination itself, we give every young person entering the profession a home, a rich resource, and a reason to be proud of their profession.
The museum will eventually house a library of cocktail books spanning two hundred years of cocktail history. The website will be a rich research tool for journalists & professionals alike, and the seminar program will provide a forum where professionals from around the world can share their skills, knowledge and collections in regularly scheduled events throughout the year.
Thank you for becoming a member and helping us move closer to our goal of establishing the first museum in the world dedicated to the American Cocktail!
-Dale DeGroff, President
• MUSEUM NEWS •
We're ready for Vegas!
|Photo by Allen Katz|
"Professor" Jerry Thomas, the man who quite literally wrote the book on mixing drinks, was born in Jefferson County, New York on November 1st, 1830 (give or take a day) and died in new York City on December 14, 1885. (This bears repeating because to date the only biography we have of him, in Herbert Asbury's 1928 edition of his book, has him born in 1825 in New Haven, Connecticut and has no idea when or where he died.) Information on Thomas' life has always been hard to find; a sporting character, he moved around a lot and spent a lot of time slipping through the cracks of history.
In death, at least, he stayed put. His death certificate, which I recently managed to track down (it wasn't where it was supposed to be) states that he was buried in New York's
Woodlawn Cemetery. In order to make sure he was still there (you never know), on October 3 of this year I assembled a group of fellow cocktail fiends, including Audrey Saunders, Julie Reiner, Toby Cecchini and Martin Doudoroff, to go up to Woodlawn and check. The cemetery, in the northern Bronx, is a glorious old place, full of magnificent trees and lavish marble tombs. Jerry Thomas isn't in one. In fact, his grave--a few yards south of the northeast corner of the plot marked "Poplar"--has the plainest of tombstones, one which reads simply "J P. Thomas" [sic]. (This in itself is confirmation of the rumors printed in his obituaries that he had lost all his money buying on margin.)
Once we found his grave, we held a brief ceremony. I brought a bottle of Wild Turkey Rye, a little thick simple syrup, a bottle of Angostura bitters and some ice, all of which went into a huge cocktail shaker (well, not all the bitters; here's the precise formula: 25 oz rye, 2 oz rich simple syrup, made 2-1 with demerara sugar, 24 dashes Angostura bitters). Everyone gave it a ritual shake or two and then we poured it out into cocktail glasses (not plastic cups), distributed twists, and all had a drink--Jerry Thomas included. We read from Asbury's account of his life and from the interview he gave the New York Sun in 1882. Ms. Saunders contributed some very scarce Aboott's Bitters for a second round and left the Professor a Tom & Jerry mug and a copy of the recent reprint of his book. It was a good day to drink.
In addition to his duties as father of our country, George Washington ran a successful distillery at his Mount Vernon home. Since 1999, archeologists-funded in part by generous donations from the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America-have been excavating the distillery site.
Although this is the first eighteenth-century distillery to be excavated in the United States, for Mount Vernon, it's only the first step toward a much larger goal. On September 28, 2004, DISCUS and Historic Mount Vernon announced to a crowd sipping freshly made
|If you have news or information that you would like to submit for inclusion in a future edition of "The Cocktailian Gazette", please forward it to Robert Hess (RobertHess@msn.com).|
Between 1797 and 1799, the distillery was a large-scale commercial operation that produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey in one year. The spent grain from the stills was fed to the 150 hogs and cattle he had penned at the site.
Once it is completed, the distilling museum will serve as the gateway to the newly-formed Whiskey Trail tourism initiative that highlights historic distilling and drinking establishments in five states. These include: The George Washington Distillery at Mount Vernon; the George Dickel Distillery; Jack Daniel's Distillery; the Jim Beam Distillery; the Maker's Mark Distillery; the Wild Turkey Distillery; the Woodford Reserve Distillery; the Bacardi Visitor Center; the Cruzan Rum Distillery; Fraunces Tavern Museum in Manhattan; Gadsby's Tavern in Virginia; Woodville Plantation; The Oliver Miller Homestead in Pennsylvania; The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown; and the West Overton Museum in Scottsdale.
For More Information please refer to the following links:
The American Whiskey TrailSM
George Washington's Mount Vernon Distillery
The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is housed in the 1823 Creole townhouse of Louis J. Dufilho, Jr., America's first licensed pharmacist. It was a working pharmacy for 50 years in the 19th century. Guests to the Pharmacy Museum can visit two floors and see exhibits on 19th century epidemics, bloodletting and questionable medicine practices, 19th century opium use and addiction and the development of patent medicines and soda fountains to name a few.
The Museums current exhibits include "19th Century Epidemics in New Orleans", and "Life on the Fringe" which consists of 19th century artifacts from the Iberville and St. Thomas Housing Project Areas - including Storyville artifacts and information. In January they will welcome a new exhibit "History of the American Cocktail" which is being presented as part of The Museum of the American Cocktail.
Throughout the year, the Pharmacy Museum hosts various events, seminars, and tours. Here is a list of their upcoming events for the rest of the year:
- November 12th, 2004 :
- "The Rx Gala Ball", held at the Royal Orleans Hotel - This is an anual fundraiser for the Museum, and includes dinner, dance, and a silent auction.
- December 11th, 2004 :
- "Christmas New Orleans Style" - Six French Quarter museums and historic homes will each host an open house for the evening tour. Tickes are available through French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (504) 522-5730.
- December 17th, 2004 :
- "Tonic & Tinsel Tour" - An evening holiday tour of the Pharmacy Museum.
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. The Museum will examine and celebrate all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the Souths unique culinary heritage. It will bring all races and ethnicities to the table to tell the tale, from the farmer and the homemaker to the line cook and the celebrity chef. And it will be fun, with tastings and other food-centered events that capture the essence of Southern foodways.
|Do not allow children to mix drinks. It is unseemly and they use too much vermouth.|
|- Steve Allen|