I’m unlikely to post links for every bourbon-related story that emerges about the midwest drought, but I’ll follow it until I convince the rest of you to pay attention.
A weblog detailing cocktails, spirits, liqueurs, barware, bars, and bitters. Maintained by Michael Dietsch, a writer and hobbyist mixer in Brooklyn.
How will the Midwest drought affect bourbon?
An important question in our line of work.
From the June 28, 1937, issue of Life comes this one rule for staying cool in the hot, hot summer:
Add a sea lion to your bath.
The text on this bizarre ad isn’t interesting, but if you want to read it, click through and read it.
Two whiskey ads from the June 14, 1937, issue of Life magazine.
First up, Schenley’s Cream of Kentucky bourbon. I’ll have more to say about the history of Schenley’s at a later time. Apparently, the Cream of Kentucky brand has been defunct since the 1980s.
And, oh, take note of the artist’s name. Perhaps you’ll recognize him.
The second ad, I have to admit, is a repeat, but there’s a reason for that. The ad itself is a repeat; it ran more than once in Life, first in December 1936. I featured it here a couple of months ago. Here it is again:
As noted previously, Kentucky Tavern still exists as a brand. Here’s a fairly recent image of its bottle lineup:
Earlier this week, Chuck Cowdery posted news that this venerable brand has gotten a facelift. His post is worth a read, and if you click through, you’ll see the new label.
These ten suggestions cover an impressive range and really demonstrate the complexity and depth of great bourbon whiskey.
By Charles Fenno Hoffman
Tis said that the gods on Olympus of old
(And who the bright legend profanes with a doubt?)
One night, ’mid their revels, by Bacchus were told
That his last butt of nectar had somehow run out!
But determined to send round the goblet once more,
They sued to the fairer immortals for aid
In composing a draught which, till drinking were o’er,
Should cast every wine ever drank in the shade.
Grave Ceres herself blithely yielded her corn,
And the spirit that lives in each amber-hued grain,
And which first had its birth from the dew of the morn,
Was taught to steal out in bright dewdrops again.
Pomona, whose choicest of fruits on the board
Were scattered profusely in every one’s reach,
When called on a tribute to cull from the hoard,
Expressed the mild juice of the delicate peach.
The liquids were mingled while Venus looked on
With glances so fraught with sweet magical power,
That the honey of Hybla, e’en when they were gone,
Has never been missed in the draught from that hour.
Flora, then, from her bosom of fragrancy, shook,
And with roseate fingers pressed down in the bowl,
All dripping and fresh as it came from the brook,
The herb whose aroma should flavor the whole.
The draught was delicious, and loud the acclaim,
Though something seemed wanting for all to bewail,
But Juleps the drink of immortals became,
When Jove himself added a handful of hail.
THE MINT JULEP: The Very Dream of Drinks
by Joshua Soule Smith
Then comes the zenith of man’s pleasure. Then comes the julep—the mint julep. Who has not tasted one has lived in vain. The honey of Hymettus brought no such solace to the soul; the nectar of the Gods is tame beside it. It is the very dream of drinks, the vision of sweet quaffings. The Bourbon and the mint are lovers. In the same land they live, on the same food they are fostered. The mint dips its infant leaf into the same stream that makes the bourbon what it is. The corn grows in the level lands through which small streams meander. By the brook-side the mint grows. As the little wavelets pass, they glide up to kiss the feet of the growing mint, the mint bends to salute them. Gracious and kind it is, living only for the sake of others. The crushing of it only makes its sweetness more apparent. Like a woman’s heart, it gives its sweetest aroma when bruised. Among the first to greet the spring, it comes. Beside the gurgling brooks that make music in the pastures it lives and thrives.
When the Blue Grass begins to shoot its gentle sprays toward the sun, mint comes, and its sweetest soul drinks at the crystal brook. It is virgin then. But soon it must be married to Old Bourbon. His great heart, his warmth of temperament, and that affinity which no one understands, demand the wedding. How shall it be? Take from the cold spring some water, pure as angels are; mix it with sugar until it seems like oil. Then take a glass and crush you mint within it with a spoon—crush it around the borders of the glass and leave no place untouched. Then throw the mint away—it is a sacrifice.
Fill with cracked ice the glass; pour in the quantity of Bourbon which you want. It trickles slowly through the ice. Let it have time to col, then pour your sugared water over it. No spoon is needed, no stirring is allowed—just let it stand a moment. Then around the brim place sprigs of mint, so that the one who drinks may find a taste and odor at one draught.
When it is made, sip it slowly. August suns are shining, the breath of the south wind is upon you. It is fragrant, cold and sweet—it is seductive. No maiden’s touch could be more passionate. Sip it and dream, it is a dream itself. No other land can give so sweet a solace for your cares; no other liquor soothes you so in melancholy days. Sip it and say there is no solace for the soul, no tonic for the body like Old Bourbon whiskey.
Hey, did you know the Derby falls on Cinco de Mayo this year? Gird your livers! Here are my tips for making a stunning mint julep.
Walter: I’m crazy about you, baby.
Phyllis: I’m crazy about you, Walter.
Walter: The perfume on your hair. What’s the name of it?
Phyllis: I don’t know. I bought it in Ensenada.
Walter: You ought to have some of that pink wine to go with it. The kind that bubbles. All I got is bourbon.
Phyllis: Bourbon is fine, Walter.
Something a little different, as I resurrect this feature. Instead of grouping ads by theme or product, as I have in the past, I’m just going to start moving chronologically through LIFE magazine, starting with the first issue in 1936, and moving forward. Now, at this rate, I’ll have enough ad content to keep this feature going for the next 50 years, so I’m probably going to rethink this feature again at some point. But for now, I just want to get going again, and this is the easiest way. So, first up, some Four Roses ads.
The first ad up is from the November 23, 1936, issue, the first issue published of LIFE.
Detail (click the image to view it in a legible size):
And a Christmas ad, from the December 21 issue, from the same year:
Detail (click the image to view it in a legible size):
The sizes on these early ads will be inconsistent from ad to ad. I snipped all of these a couple of years ago, and I hadn’t yet set on a consistent procedure for snipping and sizing the ads. Apologies.