Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The #London Walks Reading List No.3: The Savoy Cocktail Book

OUR NEW SERIES! Throughout March & April 2015 we'll be compiling our definitive London Reading List. 

We've asked London Walks Guides & London Walkers to recommend a favourite book or story, and we've also raided the archives here at The Daily Constitutional to bring a rich and varied selection of London-themed and London-set reading matter.

Whether you live here in London, work here, play here or if you are in the throws of planning a trip to visit us here, these are the books you need to read. As usual, you can give us a shout with your own recommendations – thrillers, literary classics, biographies, anthologies, anything! – at the usual email address, via Twitter or Facebook, or simply leave a comment below.

No.3 The Savoy Cocktail Book
by Harry Craddock (1930)

Patriotic American Harry Craddock was driven from his homeland by a wicked and draconian law: Prohibition. As a bar tender, Harry was out of a job. Luckily for London he washed up on the bank of the Thames at the Savoy Hotel, where he popularised the Dry Martini in the capital and invented some 200 cocktails.

He also penned The Savoy Cocktail Book (1965 edition shown), not a day out of print since 1930. Even now, Harry’s book still has few rivals for clarity, variety and – best of all – simplicity.

An illustration of this simplicity can be found in his deliciously unfussy Egg Nog:

1 Egg
1 tablespoon sugar
2 oz. of any spirit desired
Fill glass with milk
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Grate a little nutmeg on top.

Bish, bash and, indeed, bosh. A simple classic. The pages brim with golden rules and booze wisdom aplenty from the man who, legend has it, mixed the last legal cocktail in New York City in the minutes before midnight on 15th January 1920. (He cut it so fine that the last legal cocktail to be mixed became the first illegal one to be consumed, thrown back just after midnight.)

“What,” he was once asked, “is the best way to drink a cocktail?” His answer fizzes with both wit and cautionary wisdom: “Quickly, while it’s still laughing at you.”

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