Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Of Puns & Prairie Oysters - An American Drink Buffet in Dublin, 1892

In March of 1892 The Burlington Hotel & Restaurant in Dublin (Not the newer iteration, this one was in that lovely building on the corner of Andrew's Street and Church Lane, opposite the church and the Molly Malone statue.) hosted a celebrity of sorts in the shape of an 'American Drink Concocter', perhaps a precedent mixologist or a cocktail maker, although I can't find much else about him online in a quick search. This Mr. Fenlon seems to have done the rounds - even appearing in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show - and could make up any number of interesting sounding drinks including the new-to-me 'Heap of Comfort', 'Stone Fence' and a 'Dog's Nose', but then again I have led a sheltered life and cocktails are not really of huge interest to me, although some of those listed may be worth investigating further ...

What was more of interest to me were the Prairie Oyster, as I did a double take thinking in my mind of Rocky Mountain Oysters, but this type of oyster is a little less controversial being made with a shelled but unbroken raw egg, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt and ground black pepper plus alcohol, usually brandy - although these ingredients seem to vary greatly from recipe to recipe. This 'American Buffet' first appeared in 1886 when, I'd suggest, many of these drinks were first seen on these shores, brought over by the Burlington's then manager Mr. G. J. Heron who I suspect was an American or at least an Americophile given he worked in Cincinnati and New York previously. (There's more history on the establishment here.)

But what really caught my eye was the fun inclusion of a 'Drinking Time Table' in the advertisement that gives you a handy name for that drink you partake of at various times of the day and which I will transcribe here:
6 am, Eye Opener
7 am, Appetizer
8 am, Digester
9 am, Quarter Stretch
10 am, Refresher
11 am, Stimulator
12 noon, Lunch
1 pm, Settler
2 pm, Cooler
3 pm, Three-Quarter Pole
4 pm, Mutual Smile
5 pm, Invigorator
6 pm, Home Stretch
7 pm, Social Chat
8 pm, Fancy Smile
9 pm, Broad Grin
10 pm, Preparer
11 pm, Night Cap
12 pm, A Lecture Deliver Us
The relationship of the sun versus the yardarm be damned if you are having an Eye Opener or a Digester, but to each their own I guess - whatever gets you through trying times ...

And if this wasn't enough the advertisement then delivers a serious of puns of drinks for certain occupations or personalities:
Homesick Mariner - Dry Port
Recluse - Hermitage
Nurseryman - Shrub
Bird Fancier - Canary
Pillaging Soldier - Sac
Officer Encamped - Tent
Affable Person - Cordial
Pugilist - Punch
Trapper - Gin
Tide Waiter - Currant Wine
Silent Party - Still Hock
Disputant Irishman - Rayson Wine
Irish Cook - Poteen
Carrier - Porter
Robust Man - Stout
Lunatic - Mad-eira
Driver of a Two-in-Hand - Rhenish Wine
Undertaker - Beer
Odd-Fellow - Rum
Sick Body - Pale Ale
Sprightly One - Sparkling Champagne
Okay, I'll admit that some of those are stretching it a little, and some are quite obscure drink references, but surely even bad jokes can make you smile?

I'm sure we could come up with a host of more modern ones these days.

IF we wanted to ...


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Newspaper images © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive

1 comment:

Gary Gillman said...

Good work as always Liam.

What surprises me is that the notion of cocktail as a mixed drink of some kind - not just the term, but in regard to alcoholic drink - has been proved undoubtedly to be of English origins, yet this is forgotten in the British world, including Ireland for this purpose here, by the 1800s.

True it is the American riffed enormously on the cocktail idea, stretching the idea and creating a new culture around it. Still it is noteworthy that the English (specifically) origins, as documented in cocktails historiography in recent years (I've written on it too) is completely lost outside America by this period.

The term survived in the British world but, as I've discussed, generally for a mixture of fruits. Fruit cocktail is still a big canned item in Canada fwiw.