Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 28 in Chicago history

Hubert Humphrey was nominated by the Democratic Party for President at the Chicago convention on August 28, 1968.

On August 28, 1996, in a much calmer convention, Bill Clinton was re-nominated by the Democratic Party for a second term.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: a beach party!

This week, being the last weekend before Labor Day, we want to savor the summer! We turn again to the good people at Wolfschmidt Vodka and their '60s era "Instant Hospitality Party Book" and take up their suggestion for a beach party:

Look at those two piece bathing suits -- and the ones that the women are wearing, too! And, of course, who doesn't enjoy smoking a pipe at the beach? For families and young couples alike, a beach party is a smart idea! Here's the recipe for the Riga Punch (and why not make a few thermos fulls, just in case):

Fruity, sparkling, refreshing! A great summer treat. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24 in Rogers Park history

The Indian Boundary Line -- now Rogers Avenue -- was established by the Treaty of St. Louis on August 24, 1816.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 21 in Illinois history

The first debate between Lincoln and Douglas, candidates for the United States Senate, was held on August 21, 1858 in Ottawa, Illinois.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: Orange Blossom

Once again, we reach into our goodie bag of "old and forgotten drinks" for this week's happy hour. The Orange Blossom appears to have been a very popular drink once upon a time, but it's obscure even to us.

Why do we say that it was popular? Well, from our own anecdotal experience, we'd have no basis to say so, because it's not a drink we encounter at all, or even hear referenced. But, there's some evidence we have uncovered in our frequent expeditions to estate sales (read about them on our sister blog, that hint at the history of this drink.

First, we acquired this charming glass that goes with a shaker at one estate sale:

The photo may not very clearly depict the graphic, but the side of the glass features recipes for some classic drinks: a Martini, a Manhattan, a Bronx, a Daiquiri, and .... an Orange Blossom? Okay, the Bronx is a little obscure nowadays (as we have duly noted several times in prior happy hour discussions), but those other drinks are old standards. Why would an Orange Blossom be included in their company? Was the Orange Blossom a quiet favorite that everyone was gulping down 50 years ago, but never mentions anymore? Here's another piece of evidence we uncovered in an estate sale purchase:

This is a handwritten recipe that was tucked into a cocktail booklet we picked up at a sale. This was written down sometime in the 1950s, which we know because it's written on the reverse side of a time sheet from someone's job where they had to fill in the date, and the year was provided as "195___". So, some archaeological clues, we suppose. The fact that this person wrote out the specific recipe seems to indicate how important this drink was to them -- and the instructions ("shake till shaker gets frosty") offer a charming glimpse into this person's bartending technique.
Here's a recipe from Oscar Haimo's "Cocktail and Wine Digest: Encyclopedia & Guide for Home & Bar" from 1946:

Another point that we need to discuss in relation to this drink is how much diversity there is in its ingredients. So far, we see that it, at minimum, takes orange juice and gin. The proportions of the gin and orange juice vary widely. Some recipes call for sugar to be added. The recipe on the side of the glass called for nutmeg. Here's a recipe from the 1964 edition of "Famous New Orleans Drinks And How to Mix 'Em":

Well, they kind of explain it there, don't they? To prove their point, here's the recipe from our 1933 edition of "The Drink Master":

Instead of Peychaud's bitters, they call for Angostura bitters, and instead of sugar (or grenadine or honey), they call for maple syrup. Yeah, just like the topping for your pancakes. Oh, and be sure you don't miss the little detail that this recipe is supposed to serve two. We don't know about you, but not in our household!

Next, we have a recipe from a 1960's era Fleischmann's booklet:

Here, they take the drink down to its basics: just a 1:1 ratio of OJ and gin.
But, wait .... now this drink is kind of sounding familiar .... like something we've heard of .... oh, a Screwdriver, except with gin instead of vodka! As we've commented on in the past, gin is a spirit that is slightly out of vogue (to put it mildly, and lamentably). So, maybe the Orange Blossom is as popular as ever, except that it changed its name and got a few nips-and-tucks and transformed itself into a Screwdriver? In the era when the Orange Blossom evidently had its heyday, vodka was not readily available -- could it be that as vodka came onto the market and became so popular the Orange Blossom just modernized and changed with the times?
Well, something to ponder. Regardless, here's to keeping up with the times! Cheers!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14 in Illinois history

The Springfield Race Riot began on August 14, 1908. Shocked that such an event could happen in the Great Emancipator's hometown, the Springfield Race Riot let to the founding for the NAACP.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: we'll have a boilermaker

Hey, tough guy!

These really are the dog days of summer, aren't they? How about cooling down with a cold, frosty one? Have a shot, while you're at it.

If you don't have a cherished memory involving a boilermaker, or too many boilermakers, we feel sorry for you. This very manly drink is a beer with a shot of whiskey. Here, we have a beer with a shot of bourbon -- but, substitute Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, whatever your pleasure is. The recipe is as foolproof as it is fail safe.

It's too hot to get too fussy. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10 in Chicago history

The Village of Chicago was formed on August 10, 1833. (Chicago was incorporated as a city on March 4, 1837)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: a toast to Justice Elena Kagan! (and a tour of the boroughs)

First and foremost, here's a hearty toast to the 112th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Elena Kagan! (and a word of advice: uphold the district court's ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger when and if it comes before you!)

Here's a picture of our newest justice:

Secondly, this is finally an occasion to trot out a topic we've been eager to address, but we were waiting for the perfect opportunity. Justice Kagan's arrival to the Supreme Court happens to bring an unusual confluence of New York City justices to the court. Although much has been made of the fact that we now have a record 3 women on the court, and that everyone on the court now is either Jewish or Catholic (no more White Anglo-Saxon Protestants!), another remarkable fact is that 4 of the justices hail from New York. Moreover, they come from 4 separate boroughs: Manhattan (Kagan), Brooklyn (Ginsberg), Bronx (Sotomayor), and Queens (Scalia).

All of which triggers the topic we've been itching to talk about: each of New York's boroughs has a signature classic cocktail -- except Staten Island. Well, a signature cocktail is the least of what Staten Island is missing, not to mention a Supreme Court Justice of its own.

The most famous borough cocktail is serendipitously the Manhattan, the home borough of Justice Kagan, illustrated here from a 60's era recipe booklet from Old Forrester:

Next, as we borough-hop, we have Brooklyn's justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg:

The Brooklyn cocktail is a little more obscure than its neighbor from across the East River, but here's a recipe taken from the vintage repeal era 1933 edition of "The Drink Master":

Just to pause and compare these two, the Brooklyn specifically calls for rye whiskey, whereas a Manhattan is often made with rye or with bourbon. Also, it's a lot like a "dry" Manhattan (where dry vermouth is substituted for the sweet vermouth), except that it includes a dash of maraschino liqueur, for a little bit of sweetness. It's a great drink, and should be revived.

Following upon that, we have the Bronx Bomber herself:

And the cocktail hailing from the Bronx was once almost as commonly requested as the Manhattan, but has faded away into obscurity (along with almost all gin drinks, frankly). Here's a recipe from a 70s era Fleischmann's booklet:

To wrap up our tour of the boroughs, we land in Queens, home of Justice Antonin Scalia (incidentally, who is now the longest serving justice on the court)(and, just to toss this in for good measure: did you know that he and Justice Ginsberg are very close personal friends? Actually, before Justice Ginsberg's husband died, he and his wife, along with the Ginsbergs, would vacation together. So, go figure.) Here's a picture of him reviewing a precedent he's about to overrule in his conservative activism:

The Queens cocktail is by far the most obscure of our 4 featured specials. In fact, we don't have a recipe to draw upon, even from our vast archives of materials. But, with a little research on the internet, the Queens cocktail is basically a Bronx, except with pineapple juice instead of orange juice. You're on your own for the recipe, but we'll suggest maybe 2 oz gin, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, and 1 oz pineapple juice. This is completely untested, so "buyer beware"! (please post any suggestions, of course)

Now, as interesting as this topic is to students of obscure, vintage, and geographically-based cocktails, it's very bittersweet for Rogers Park Retro, because with Justice Kagan's ascendancy comes the retirement of Chicago's own, Justice John Paul Stevens, who has served on the court since 1975:

In his honor, we offer the Chicago cocktail, also taken from the 1933 edition of The Drink Master:

(and, of course, we have to observe that this is basically a Bronx, minus the sweet vermouth and adding a cherry)

Here's to the SCOTUS! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 4 in Chicago history

Surveyor James Thompson completed the first survey and plan for the City of Chicago on August 4, 1830.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 2 in Chicago history

On August 2, 1921, after two hours of deliberation, the jury in the "Black Sox" trial of eight White Sox players returned a verdict of not guilty in a plot to fix the 1919 World Series. However, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (pictured above) banned the players involved from baseball for life.