Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Esquire's Handbook For Hosts, 1949

Tomorrow night is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's once again time for 'Book Club' here at The Whistler. This month, I've chosen the 1949 edition of Esquire's Handbook For Hosts. The book came to me on the same day that I scored that amazing vintage banquet bar at a suburban auction--you may remember seeing it featured in Chicago Reader's Space column. There was a whole bounty of vintage cocktail stuff tucked in the drawers, including a stash of 48-star American flag cocktail picks and an unopened package of paper napkins from Bar St Germain in France. However, my favorite treasure found within was the very edition of Esquire's Handbook For Hosts being used for this month's Book Club selection.

The book is much more than cocktail recipes; it includes directions for Boeuf Bourguignon, party tricks, and clever ways to let your inebriated guests know it's time to head home. One of the neatest features is the Bartender's Box Score: a handy chart perfect for keeping track of your guests' favorite (and least favorite) libations:

While preparing for Book Club, I spend a few weeks going through the book and studying the recipes, trying to come away with 20 or 30 to test out.

I then go through those recipes, tasting and tweaking them until I settle on 10 or so of the book's best.

Sometimes there are too many good drinks to fit on one menu, as is the case with the East India Cocktail. So even though you won't be able to order this particular concoction tomorrow evening, you can take Dale DeGroff's modern version of the recipe and make it at home:

See you at Book Club tomorrow night!

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