Saturday, April 1, 2017

Big Fred and the Dude

Every Friday, gaz regan's email newsletter -- click here to sign up -- includes a "potent quotable," a short passage on bar life, usually from way back. They're always entertaining, but some are more memorable than others. If Damon Runyon had used a couple of them in his stories, his editor would have told him to dial it down.

On other days of the week, you get a cocktail recipe. These are by and for the pros, so they'll have two kinds of amari, or Enzo's muskrat bitters or what have you. They may be delicious, but they aren't meant to be tried at home. Unless you are, or live with, a professional bartender.

Anyway, the most recent Potent Quotable includes a recipe for a Manhattan, which I'm posting here so I don't lose track of it:
'Bartender,' the dude said to Fred, 'mix me a Manhattan cocktail.' He couldn't have done worse. In that time and place a man who would drink a cocktail was considered on a par with a cigaret smoker, which was to say, a degenerate.

Big Fred didn't bat an eye. 'What kind did you say?' he inquired politely.

'Manhattan,' said the dude.

Big Fred went to work. He bit off a chew of the plug he liked and reached for a bottle. Putting one of the Humboldt's generous beer mugs on the bar, he poured a good shot of whiskey into it. To this he added a slug of gin, another of rum, a dash of real brandy, of bitters, of aqua vit', and then filled the remainder of the mug with beer. Placing this dose in front of the dude, accommodating Fred stirred it slowly with a huge forefinger.

'There, mister,' he said obligingly, 'is your Manhattan cocktail.'

-- Little Annie Oakley & Other Rugged People, Stewart H. Holbrook, 1948. ["Big Fred" Hewlett was reportedly the owner of The Humboldt Saloon, Aberdeen, WA., circa 1900.]

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