February 3, 2012

Cocktail Talk: Alexis Soyer Week, Part 3

I’m going to skip the preamble for this post (you can catch that in Alexis Soyer Cocktail Talk I and Alexis Soyer Cocktail Talk II) and get right the quotes, which are again taken from the superb Soyer bio Relish by Ruth Cowen. These quotes are again showing why Soyer fits on a cocktail and drinks blog (even though he’d probably be more associated with the culinary arts as opposed to the cocktail arts. Though really, they go together so nicely). And the first one uses the phrase “oesophagus burners,” which is a phrase I’d like to see back in circulation.

Beneath this terrace, reached via a wooden staircase, was an American-style bar called The Washington Refreshment Room, which was to all intents and purposes the first cocktail bar in London. It provided thirsty customers with such daring modern concoctions as ‘flashes of lightning, tongue twisters, oesophagus burners, knockemdowns, squeezemtights . . . brandy pawnees, shadygaffs, mint juleps, hailstorms, Soyer’s Nectar cobblers, brandy smash, and hoc genus omne.’ More than forty cocktails were on offer, and among the candidates for the job of barmen, said Sala, was ‘an eccentric American genius, who declared himself perfectly capable of compounding four at a time, swallowing a flash of lightning, smoking a cigar, singing Yankee Doodle, washing up the glasses, and performing the overture to the Huguenots on the banjo simultaneously.

 . . .  the festivities almost came to a dramatic end when a paper lantern caught fire and the flames quickly spread across the roof–but a young officer hoisted himself up to the beams and managed to extinguish it. The band resumed, and Alexis produced his special punch–Crimean Cup à la Marmora–a lethal blend of iced Champagne, Cognac, Jamaican rum, maraschino, orgeat syrup, soda water, sugar, and lemons.

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