The Repeal of Prohibition brought back the American bar and the cocktail hour. With Repeal, Ben Burk. Inc., the makers of the Old Mr. Boston line of spirits that included whiskey, gin, rum and liqueurs, decided to take the lead and create an “Official Bartender’s Guide.” They worked with four “old-time” Boston Bartenders to create the guide. It was a huge success and the Old Mr. Boston Bartender’s Guide became a yearly publication for over 50 years. I have a 1935 second printing and I thought I would share some of the recipes here. I shall start with the Manhattan recipe as something everyone will recognize and then pick a few other whiskey cocktails from the book.
The first thing you will notice is that there are a lot more cocktails made with gin and other unaged spirits than whiskey. When whiskey is given, it is simply the Old Mr. Boston Whiskey, their blended whiskey, not Bourbon or rye. This is because there was not very much mature Bourbon or rye in the market and what aged stocks there were at Ben Burk, Inc., were being blended with neutral spirits to stretch them into as many bottles as they could. The other thing I have noticed is that the whiskey is being mixed with liqueurs with strong flavors and the cocktails would not be very whiskey forward. Once again, this is because of the youth of American whiskey in 1935. Strong flavors other than whiskey covered up the young whiskey flavors. Better a strong orange flavor than the bitter wood tannins of a six-month-old whiskey.
1/3 Italian Vermouth, 2/3 Old Mr. Boston Whiskey, 2 Dashes Bitters, 2 Dashes Gum Syrup. Stir well with cracked ice and strain into a 3 oz. Cocktail glass. Serve with a cherry.
2/3 Pineapple Juice, 1/3 Old Mr. Boston Whiskey. Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a 3 oz. Cocktail glass.
Kentucky Colonel Cocktail
¼ Benedictine, ¾ Old Mr. Boston Whiskey, Twist of lemon peel. Stir well in ice and strain into a 3 oz. Cocktail glass.
King Cole Cocktail
1 jigger Old Mr. Boston Whiskey, 2 dashes gum syrup, 1 slice orange, 1 slice pineapple. Muddle well then add cube of ice. Serve in Old Fashioned glass.
Juice of 1 lemon, Juice of 1 lime, 1 jigger Old Mr. Boston Whiskey, 1 dash Grenadine. Shake well with cracked ice, strain into a Tom Collins glass and fill with carbonated water.
1 jigger Old Mr. Boston Whiskey, 2 dashes Absinthe, 2 dashes Anisette, 2 dashes bitters. Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. Cocktail glass. Serve with a piece of pineapple on top.
Los Angeles Cocktail
Juice of 1 lemon, 1 jigger of Old Mr. Boston Whiskey, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 egg, 1 dash Italian Vermouth. Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a 4 oz. Cocktail glass.
The Old Mr. Boston Official Bartenders Guide went on to be printed yearly for over 50 more years. As aged American whiskeys, Bourbon and Rye, became available, the recipes start calling for such whiskeys by style.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller