Prohibition in the United States drove many talented bartenders overseas to make a living. The result of this migration of talent is that cocktails became very popular in Europe. This led to a huge boost to the cocktail culture in Europe.
In Great Britain, one of the rising stars in the cocktail world was Harry Craddock at the Savoy Hotel in London. He was born in the town of Stroud, Gloucestershire in 1897. He worked at the Hollenden Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio and then at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City and became a United States citizen.
During Prohibition, he left the United States and returned to Great Britain with his wife and daughter and eventually found employment at the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London. In 1930, he wrote the book The Savoy Cocktail Book. It has recently been republished by Martino Publishing, of Mansfield Center, Connecticut in 2015. It was originally published by Constable & Co. of London in 1930. This latest edition was made from a scanned copy of the original book.
The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, Mansfield, CN.: Martino Publishing, 2015. Forward, Contents, Illustrations, 287 pp.
Harry Craddock wrote a book that has to be considered a classic cocktail book. It has a brief history of cocktails followed by recipes in alphabetical order. It then has chapters about individual styles of cocktails such as sours, flips, egg noggs, rickeys and other popular styles of drinks of that era.
It follows with extensive chapters on wines and ends with pages for the bartender to make notes about their own cocktails or improvements upon the recipes in the book. It is well organized. The only complaint I would find is the lack of an index.
The book is well-written and easy to use. It is illustrated with many drawings that reflect the Art Deco style of the 1930s. I find them very interesting drawings but I would have liked to have seen images of the cocktails.
The recipes have clear instructions and are easy to make. For example the “Egg Sour” recipe is as follows: 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar, 3 dashes of lemon juice, 1 liqueur glass of Curacao, 1 liqueur glass of brandy, 1 egg, 2 or 3 small lumps of ice. Shake well and remove the ice before serving.
The book does not have a lot of recipes calling for American whiskey as it was written during Prohibition in the United States, so Bourbon and rye whiskeys were not common in London at that time. Brandy or Canadian whisky would have been the substitution for Bourbon and rye whiskeys when he was making these cocktails at the Savoy in the 1920s. However, it would be easy to substitute back Bourbon or rye when making these recipes today.
The book also has value as a reference book as Craddock places historical information about the drinks throughout the book. If a new bartender wants to understand more about wine, this book is a good place to start their education. The Savoy Cocktail Book is a classic cocktail book that should be part of every spirits library. It is informative and well written and a great reference book.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller