Recovering from (the) depression

Here, Midnight Sun commenter Patchen makes the depression a little less depressing:

My senior year of college I was buying books for class when I found this great little book in the remainder bin. It was called something like Depression-Era Cocktails. Each page had a beautiful shot of some old cocktail and the recipe that went with it.

The book got lifted from my suite -- I assume during a party -- before I ever got to make a single drink.

I’ve never been able to find it anywhere else, and losing it has always bugged me -- especially now that the economy is in the toilet. I mean, if we’re going to go through a Great Recession, why not have drinks to match?

Lots of people have had this idea. A bunch of bars in places like Milwaukee, Memphis and L.A. have bars that offer Depression-themed specials, though I haven’t found any in Baltimore. Still, with a little Googling, you can find some great drinks to try -- sometimes with recipes, sometimes just with names worth looking up in your bar manual.

Here’s what I love about cocktails from the Depression ...

Cool Liquors Mixed Together: Brandy? Cognac? Sherry? Absinthe? Awesome.

Twists on the Norm: Like instead of London dry gin. Instead of bourbon, now’s the time to pull down that bottle of Pikesville Rye you’ve had sitting around. (That link, BTW, has a ton of mixes.)

Beer: Some Depression-era recipes actually involved beer, often mixed with ...

Crazy Ingredients: Like egg (sometimes whites, sometimes yolks, sometimes the whole thing), caster sugar, nutmeg, etc.

Editor's note: Yuck!

No Vodka: Vodka really didn’t show up in U.S. drinks till the '50s. Look for drinks with rum, gin, brandy and whiskey instead.

And the best part about Depression era cocktails is that they really do help you save money.  My buddy Reed in Washington has a weekly cocktail party. He picks one drink and serves variations on that exclusively. If you want something else, it’s BYOB (and BYO food). So he's able to throw a great party every Friday for a whole lot less than he would shelling out for six-packs.

(Sun archive photo)

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