I recently had the opportunity to participate in an author's night with the Mark Twain House in Hartford. I was joined by Cecelia Tichi, whose book, Gilded Age Cocktails, was the focus of the discussion. This is part of a regular virtual series that the Twain House began near the onset of Covid, in order to maintain their audience and fund raising links. By the look of it, they have been successful as they have done nearly 200 events and we had well over 100 attendees online with use for this event. Mark Twain coined the phrase "The Gilded Age", btw - he wrote a book of the same name, so this all makes perfect sense.
For this date, I guess I was brought in as the drink "expert" (which of course I am!), but what wasn't really conveyed to me until just before we held the event, was that I was actually going to be the interviewer - and needed to fill about 45 minutes of discussion. This little nugget was dropped on me a day or so before the event, and I had to do a little scrambling to figure out what I was going to ask and say - initially I thought I was just making a couple of drinks to illustrate some recipes from the book.
Needless to say, my worries turned out to be unnecessary as Cecelia was more than happy to carry the conversation. She has written a book that is very quick and easy to read and is filled with stories about people of the time, especially women, who were key in the development of the cocktail during this period - the late 1800s to early 1900s - essentially before Prohibition.
I also made a few of the recipes from the book while we were on the interview, and we discussed the ins and outs of a few timepiece recipes as well as a few that have transgressed time, such as the Martini. All of the recipes in Cecilia's book are fairly easy to understand and most home bars will have the majority of ingredients - remember these were somewhat simpler times and just in the early days of real brand building for many liquor manufacturers.
If you would care to watch the broadcast, please find a link to the show here (I promise, its not that boring, really), and I might even suggest making a cocktail or two before you get into it - perhaps a great classic martini is in order!
And perhaps more important than listening to me talk about cocktails, if you would like to help the Mark Twain House and get yourself a copy of the book - I believe they have some copies left to acquire - please click here. You might even consider picking up a book or two from the man himself - I hear he was good with the pen.
Don't worry, I am not compensated for any sales of this book, just being generous with my time, and NEWA is not affiliated with the Twain House, either...
And just to make this official...
Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign and its Travelers Arts Impact Grant program, with major support from The Travelers Foundation. For more information call 860-247-0998 or visit marktwainhouse.org.
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ABOUT THE Author
Brian Mitchell runs The New England Wine Academy, and is responsible for the content of this blog. With 30 years of drinks industry experience, Brian has learned a few things, but everyday he is learning more. This blog helps to bring that knowledge to you.