Gary & Mardee Regan
49 Weeks Ave.
C-o-H, NY 12520
Ardent Spirits e-letter
Volume 7 Issue 6, October, 2006
by Gary Regan and Mardee Haidin Regan
© 2005 Reganomics, Inc.
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Boy do we have some news for you this month. Groundbreaking stuff. Honest.
You’ll read below about the true story of the birth of the Cosmopolitan, and for the first time anywhere (as far as we know, but we’re pretty sure we’re right about this) you’ll see a picture of Cheryl Cook, the woman who created to original drink. And there’s much more to this story, too . . .
There’s also a story about a London Cocktailian who gives us his view on whether the Martini should be shaken or stirred--just in time for the new James Bond to get used to the idea--and don’t miss our piece on the Birth of the Big Apple. You’ll be sorry if you do.
We’re also bringing you news of the very first frozen Margarita machine, as well as information about an old Tom & Jerry machine, so read on.
Told you we had groundbreaking news for you in this issue.
Mardee & Gary
There’s isn’t enough room in this newsletter for us to bring you every single
detail about the creation of the most popular drink to come along since, say,
the Margarita, so we’ll be publishing the whole story in the second edition of
The Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail, due to be released by the
Museum of the American Cocktail in April, 2006. For more details, click here:
Now, back to the story: In our 1997 book, New Classic Cocktails, we wrote that good sources had pointed us in the direction of Cheryl Cook, a Miami-based bartender, as the creator of this drink, but we also noted that we’d been unable to find her. Guess what? She found us!
Here’s what she wrote:
“My name is Cheryl Cook. I was a bartender from 1985-2000 on South Beach. I was commonly refereed to as ‘The Martini Queen of South Beach.’ I have spent the past several years working as a Producer & Technical Director in the Event Industry. I also have traveled with a Dance Company around the World for many years. During this period I was out of the "Bar" loop. . . .
“Circa 1985(?) or 1986(?): The Martini had just made it's come back. Women were ordering Martinis just to have a drink in that classic glass. Many women did not seem to really like a true martini or the new age martini, the vodka martini. What overwhelmed me was the number of people who ordered Martinis just to be seen with a Martini glass in their hand. It was on this realization that gave me the idea to create a drink that everyone could pallet and was visually stunning in that classic glass. This is what the Cosmo was based on.
“I was the Head Bartender of the Strand on Washington Avenue during the first five years. My Southern Wine and Spirits rep brought me a new Absolut product, "Absolut Citron." He said, ‘create something Cheryl.’ I love a challenge and I had wanted to create a new drink for the Martini glass so..…. The ingredients, as I always phrased it, ‘Absolut Citron, a splash of triple sec, a drop of roses lime and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink,’ fell in suit. Basically this recipe is a no brainier, mixing wise. Merely a kamikaze with Absolut Citron and a splash of cranberry juice. My objective was also a "design" task. To create a visually stunning cocktail in a beautiful glass. Pretty and pretty tasty too. Not so much trying to reinvent the wheel, just bringing it up to speed.”
So how come the Cosmo is often made with fresh lime juice instead of Rose’s Lime Juice? We have Toby Cecchini, bartender extraordinaire, and owner of Passerby in Manhattan, to thank for that. While he was working at The Odeon, circa 1987/1988, his co-worker, Melissa Huffsmith, introduced him to an oddly mangled version of Cheryl’s creation. By the time it reached Toby, the drink had traveled from Miami to San Francisco, and then made its way to New York. The version that Toby was introduced to was made with regular vodka, Rose’s lime juice, and grenadine. Not very appetizing, huh?
Toby tweaked the San Francisco version by calling for Absolut Citron vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice. Almost the same as Cheryl’s original drink, except that Toby used fresh lime juice, and the triple sec he chose was brand specific. He used Cointreau.
So, eight years after our book was released we’ve finally gotten to the bottom of this story. For the record:
Cheryl: We hail you as the creator of the original Cosmopolitan.
Toby: We hail you as creator of the Cosmopolitan, Mark 2.
We seldom bring politics into Ardent Spirits, and we aren’t going to do it today, but it just so happens that a man with a web site that details the origins of quite a few cocktails, along with many other very well researched items, including the first usage of the term “Big Apple” to describe New York, is also a politician. Barry Popik by name.
We were delighted to find some intricate pieces on drinks such as The Manhattan, The Bloody Mary, and The Bobbie Burns Cocktail, among others, on Barry’s site, and even more delighted to find that he sometimes quotes from Ardent Spirits. Shows good taste, doncha think?
This site is a must-see for anyone interested in word origins, so we suggest that you go visit it as soon as you have an hour or three to kill: www.barrypopik.com
In the political arena, Barry is currently running for the office of Manhattan Borough President, and here, direct from his web site, is a little more information about this incredibly busy man:
BARRY POPIK is a contributor-consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary, Dictionary of American Regional English, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, and the forthcoming Yale Dictionary of Quotations. Since 1990 he has also been a regular contributor to Gerald Cohen’s Comments on Etymology. He is recognized as an expert on the origins of the terms Big Apple, Windy City, hot dog, and many other food terms, and he is an editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2004). He posts commentary on Americanisms to the American Dialect Society email list, ADS-L, where he has over 7,000 archived posts since 1996. Barry lives in New York City, where by day he is an administrative law judge of parking violations.
On September 28, 2005 The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced that it had acquired the world’s first frozen margarita machine, invented on May 11, 1971 by Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez. The machine will join hundreds of other innovations in the museum’s collections, including Tupperware wonder bowls and a Krispy Kreme Ring King. We think it deserves better placement than that, don’t you?
“The invention of the frozen margarita machine is a classic example of the American entrepreneurial spirit,” said museum director Brent D. Glass. “This story is told through many of our collections, revolutionary or mundane, from the light bulb to the can opener.”
The Museum stated that Martinez merely modified a soft-serve ice cream machine into the first frozen margarita machine after he was inspired by a frozen drink machine he saw at a local convenience store.
“Improved consistency, overall better product and ease of use due to the frozen margarita machine, made the drink so popular that it brought bars in Tex-Mex restaurants front and center,” said Martinez. “People came to Mariano’s for that frozen margarita out of the machine.”
Martinez incidentally developed his machine at the forefront of the Tex-Mex food movement. Tex-Mex is now an American favorite and margaritas are a standard together with salsa and tortilla chips. Martinez continued serving his famous margaritas for the next 34 years, eventually retiring the original machine in favor of the new mass-produced machines.
For more information, visit the museum’s Web site at
AmericanHistory.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000.
Steve Manktelow, cocktailian whiz at Cocoon Restaurants in London, and graduate of this year’s Cocktail in the Country course (and boy was he a pain . . . His buddy, Timothy Cunliffe, wasn’t much better), wrote to us a little while ago to say that he far preferred his Martinis to be shaken, rather than stirred. Mardee agrees. Gary doesn’t.
However, Steve’s explanation for his methodology preference was quite unique. Here’s what he had to say about the matter:
“It’s all about showing the gin who's boss. Roughing it up a bit before drinking. Making sure it doesn't try anything sneaky like getting you horribly drunk and slurring at someone you shouldn't. I mean would, ‘be nice or I'll give you a good stirring’ put anyone off mischief?
“Now it’s much more different with a Manhattan, or any other drink that calls for an aged spirit. They’re a bit older, a bit more mature, the gentlemen of the spirit world. You don't need to discipline them as they already have discipline, refinement, and experience. In short they've got age on there side; white spirits are like naughty adolescents that need a good smack.”
That’s a very British take on the matter, Steve. And white spirits aren’t the only adolescents who need a good smack . . .
We were recently contacted by Joseph Mc Donald, a man who had been researching his family’s business, J.H. Mc Kie Mfr, a company that manufactured coffee making equipment in Los Angeles for more than 70 years. But it wasn’t just coffee machines that the company made--they made Tom & Jerry Urns, too.
“I remember my grandfather, the owner and founder of J.H. Mc Kie Mfr., serving Tom and Jerry's during the Christmas and New Year season to all of our many customers and friends who would visit his Los Angeles home from all over the country,” wrote Joseph.
So why would bars want such a thing as a Tom & Jerry Urn? Because Tom & Jerrys were very popular at one time. Deservedly so, too. We’ll let Joseph explain:
“. . . the 1930's through the 1950's were a very special time for restaurants and bars. Dining rooms were expansive with meals being considered a full evening experience. Bars and lounges of those days were usually elegantly decorated allowing patrons to enjoy cocktails as a kind of pre-dining experience not just a waiting area for your table. And all kinds of cocktails including the very unique Tom and Jerry were served. The urn itself is really a very simple item--basically just a warming unit for liquids. Some other drinks also required hot water and so because not all bars of the day were equipped with hot water, this little urn proved quite handy for barkeeps.”
McKIE ELECTRIC TOM & JERRY URN|
A 2-gallon hot water urn for mixing all kinds of hot drinks.
Prominently placed in any restaurant, buffet, or bar, this
McKie unit represents a business source that will pull
many extra dollars in sales. Equipped with 300-watt
electric heater -- Plugs in any wall socket.
Chrome plated finish. Price Each $29.50
Thanks for getting in touch, Joseph. Much appreciated. We love the look of your urns, too!
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