Archive for the ‘Library’ Category

Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion. By Crosby Gaige. M. Barrows and Co. (1941).

The most treasured tome on my shelf, this harmonious blend of humor and how-to led me to my present vocation. (I remain unsure whether to thank or blame the esteemed Mr. Gaige for that.) His chapters mix recipes, lore, and opinion, providing would-be men-about-town instruction in matters so diverse as “How to Mix in and For Polite Society” and “Companionate Marriage.” Rea Irvin’s drawings are a delight, and though Gaige’s superb writing provides the hearty main course, written contributions from two immortals — Lucius Beebe and Lawton Mackall — make a perfect aperitif and digestif, respectively. Indeed, it is Gaige’s description of the duties of Mackall that I coopted when I wrote my own want ad and hired myself:

This gentleman of infinite capacity is perhaps the last of the authentic boulevardiers. He holds the high office of official liquor sipper for the readers of Esquire. His days and nights are spent in Manhattan’s more opulent madhouses sipping, forever sipping, anything and everything of an alcoholic nature that flows from flagons, flasks or bottles. He reports his findings in mellifluously modulated scholarly prose. Fortunately, he is equipped with a complete set of innards, from stem to stern as it were, made to his own personal specifications by the Revere Copper and Brass Works at Rome, New York. Thus he has none of the limitations that nature has bestowed upon other and lesser savants of the saloon.

Daily he completes his rounds and as dawn waves its crimson wand above the roof of the Agash Refining Company in Mr. Bush’s Terminal, he pads swiftly to South Ferry where the municipal Charon oars him to his vine-clad bower in Staten Island. If he were touched by a careless or casual match he would burn with a clear blue flame.

Gaige’s exquisite vocabulary may prick careless readers to bleed; never tackle this one tipsy.