An exploration of a prohibition era cocktail book
Two Hundred Selected Drinks, written by Knut W. Sundin, was printed in 1930. Sometime between then and now it found itself wedged on an old yellow bookshelf at my grandfather's house. After his passing the book made its way to my hands.
I want to make this clear - I am not a bartender. I say this because I am good friends with bartenders. The tireless work they do to make sure their patrons are happy and in enjoyable atmosphere is to be admired and copied. If we all acted like bartenders, listening, being attentive and hardworking while serving others, maybe this world wouldn't be as crazy as it is.
What I am is a guy with some books, some bar tools, booze and interest in learning and, perhaps, connecting in some way with my grandfather.
In late 2006, my grandfather passed away. He was a hardworking man. He was a serviceman, a teamster, a truck driver, and more. He worked hard to make sure my dad had everything he needed growing up. Despite his work ethic, he knew how to have fun. He’d play pranks on me or other unsuspecting people, he talked to everyone, and loved to needle people to get a smile or smirk. At his funeral, friends and family told a multitude of unsurprising stories about his puckish ways. Sometimes he’d act like he was performing an exorcism during a party or hiding out in the basement of a bar while a couple of hooligans tried to find him and his buddy.
After his passing, my father found an old prohibition cocktail book on a yellow bookcase that was near my grandfather's home bar. He shipped this along with other bar essentials to me in Dallas. The book sat on my shelf for a number of years
My love of cocktails hit right before the height of the craft cocktail resurgence during the recession. That’s when I started to pay closer attention. I became friends with real mixologists and they opened my mind to a world I hardly knew existed. That is when I started to love a "good cocktail" and could finally discern the difference.
I picked up Two Hundred Selected Drinks by Knut W. Sundin, a couple of months ago with an idea. A plan to create an online journal of my journey with cocktails. Partly because I'd like to think my grandfather used this book and partly because I wanted to challenge myself.
Then came the app. Mostly because all of the other apps didn't do the things I wanted them to do.
Thanks for joining me on my journey.
- J.B. Chaykowsky