Throwing a Deco style cocktail party can be simple with a few of the right pieces. To begin with a proper shaker is essential. Here are some from my collection.
Even though these are collectible they are not expensive, especially the Krome Kraft shaker. Farber Bros. made this style of shaker from the 1930’s until the 1960’s, many are found in excellent condition at thrift stores for less than twenty dollars. The Steward and Paden City shakers were less than fifty dollars each.
Another elegant way to make cocktails is a mixer. Below is the Stirring Cocktail Mixer and spoon, designed by Walter Von Nessen (1889 – 1943), for the Chase Specialty line and was in stores between 1934 and 1937.
For many years, I have used William Powell as Nick Charles in The Thin Man (M.G.M., 1934) as my cocktail mentor. Take a look at the size of the cocktail glass.
I don’t know when it happened, I think it was in the 1980’s, that cocktail glasses became the size of buckets. This is great if you want to get blind on one drink, but if you want to enjoy the evening use a vintage glass that is an appropriate size for a Martini, a Manhattan or a Bronx. Again the thrift stores or flea markets will be your best friend in finding these style of glasses.
I picked up the platinum trimmed glasses at a local Goodwill Thrift store for .99 cents each. The Farber-Cambridge glasses were purchased at the Golden Nugget Flea Market in Lambertville, New Jersey for $18.00 for the six. So it is easy to find proper cocktail glasses at very reasonable prices.
A great classic cocktail is the Old Fashion. It is not only necessary to have the right glass (which is short and squat), but you must also have a muddler. Chase made some great chrome Old Fashion cups and muddlers with bakelite tips. These are highly collectible and very stylish. A set like this can be found for between $80.00 to $125.00.
If drinking out of chrome plated cups does not appeal to you, try these Seneca black amethyst petal foot glasses, they would be perfect for an Old Fashion cocktail.
A Highball is a nice cool drink for the summer. Highballs are easy to make and should always, always be served in a tall glass. Too many times today a highball is served in a tumbler, take a hint from the name of the drink and use the correct glass. Below are more black amethyst footed glasses from Seneca, which are perfect for highballs. Glasses like these can be purchased at flea markets for around $5.00 to $10.00 each.
Of course serving cocktails with a complete set (shaker, glasses and tray) is always an impressive statement. This is the Chase “Blue Moon” cocktail shaker (early version with the bakelite ball cap) and glasses on a Chase Ring Tray. This set was available between 1937 – 1941. The shaker, designed by Howard Reichenbach (1901 – 1959) and was first sold individually in 1936. The following year Chase combined it with the Harry Laylon (1911 – 1997) designed cups and tray. Today this set has a book value of $280.00 – $320.00.
Once you get the right glasses and shakers, next come some accessories, like a Russel Wright cocktail ball from the Chase Specialty line. Even though it looks like a 1950’s satellite, it is actually from the mid-1930’s. These can either be used for cocktail franks and cheese cubes or for olives, cherries and onions to garnish your cocktails.
Here is a cocktail accessory that I have had for a while, but have yet to use – Silverice.
Introduced in May of 1929, Silverice was sold exclusively through Mary Ryan of Fifth Avenue, New York, and cost $5.00 for a box of six. The metal balls contain a liquid. Put them in the freezer and when they are frozen, place in glass. Unlike ice cubes, these won’t dilute your drink. I’m not sure what the liquid is inside Silverice, so I’m a bit leery of using them. But the box has a nice Deco design that I would put out on the bar while having a cocktail party.
Now that you have the shaker, the right glasses and some accessories, it is time to throw that Deco style cocktail party. Here are some recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book. Please note that vodka is not seen in any of them. Save the vodka for your mid-century Mad Men 1960’s cocktail party.
Dry Martini: 1/3 French Vermouth, 2/3 Dry Gin, 3 dashes of orange bitters. Shake well and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with an olive. In the 1920’s and 1930’s vermouth was used more liberally than today. The old recipes give a nicer, more mellow flavor to the drink.
Manhattan (Sweet): 1/2 Italian Vermouth, 1/2 Rye or Canadian Club Whisky, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters. Shake well and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry. As with the martini, more vermouth was used back then. The color of a Manhattan should be slightly lighter than Coca-Cola.
Bronx: The juice of 1/4 orange, 1/4 French vermouth, 1/4 Italian vermouth, 1/2 dry gin. Shake well and serve in a cocktail glass.
Sidecar: 1/4 lemon juice, 1/4 cointreau, 1/2 brandy. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
Old Fashion: 1 lump of sugar, 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, 1/4 of an orange slice, 1 cherry. Crush sugar, bitters, orange and cherry with a muddler. Add 1 glass of Rye or Canadian Club whisky. Top off with a splash of club soda.
Highball: 1 lump of ice, 1 glass of whisky, scotch or brandy. Fill with club soda, or Ginger Ale, if desired, or a mixture of soda and Ginger Ale. Serve with a lemon peel, if desired, in a tall glass.
Tom Collins: The juice of 1/2 a lemon. 1/2 tablespoon of powdered sugar. 1 glass of Dry Gin. Shake well and pour into a tall glass. Add a splash of club soda. This is an especially refreshing summer time drink.
As always, please drink responsibly, and do not go Driving for Deco, or anywhere else after cocktails. Enjoy your drinks after a long day of antiquing to celebrate your Deco finds of the day.
Chris & Anthony (The Freakin’, Tiquen’ Guys)
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