Cocktail Hour: Shake, Rattle, & Roll in a New Era




Much like Virginia Elliot and Phil Strong's Shake 'Em Up tried to shepherd cocktail parties through the Prohibition and Great Depression Era, Alma Fullford Whitaker the wrote the equally amusing book on how to adjust to the end of Prohibition. From Bacchus Behave: The Lost Art of Polite Drinking:


Here we are, rushed into a post Prohibition era, all unprepared. Having been involved for so long with synthetic gin, flapper whiskey, and a varied assortment of friendship-testing home-brews, our palates and our manners can scarcely be expected to cope successfully with the niceties of the superior nectars that await our fancy.

Perhaps we deserved what happened to us. We were never what one might call really versed in the more delicate points of refined drinking…The more gentlemanly nationals felt we rather overdid things… A really gentlemanly nation would never bring upon itself such a confounding retribution as an Eighteenth Amendment… Still, we have our ideals. Properly fortified with instructive information, we may yet learn to carry our liquor like gentleman. It’s deucedly messy when we don’t. Gives the world an impression that our upbringing was sadly inadequate. We offer such a handle to the reformers, who should never receive that form of encouragement… It is vitally important that we should learn to become fastidious in the manner of liquor. The hostesses of the United States must see to it that vulgar excess becomes taboo…


Are we shocked that the performance of the cocktail hour fell to women? Everything related to drinking changed after Prohibition and even more so after WWII. Women were often the ones expected to model and maintain the new cultural norms.

 

As the cocktail party became a staple in American life, a hostess had to consider her options for drinks service. If she she wanted to enjoy the party and not just remain behind the bar mixing drinks, then the cocktail punch was the way to go.


Betty Sanderson Bintz’s Tea Punch


4 quarts hot tea

6 lemons, sliced thin

1 quart lemon juice

1 lb. sugar

1 pint grenadine

½ pint maraschino cherries

1 pint pineapple bits

3 quarts whiskey

4 quarts club soda


Pour tea over sliced lemons and cool. Pour lemon juice over sugar and dissolve. Add remaining ingredients. Serve over ice. Makes 2 bowls.



Recipe tester notes: Our recipe tester says it's delicious. Suggests quartering the recipe. If you make the full recipe you will have two punch bowls full, so that is certainly a party. Even after quartering the recipe, our tester only used half the whiskey called for.

 

Betty Bintz, Apple Mountain Matriarch


“Elizabeth Sanderson was born Feb. 4, 1899 in Wilmette, Ill., moving to Saginaw as a young woman. She was married to Mr. Bintz in 1920. He died in 1959 after retiring as president and general manager of Wickes Machine Tool Division here. Mr. Bintz established a fruit orchard on N. River Road in Freeland...” (From the obituary of Elizabeth Sanderson Bintz, The Saginaw News, September 28, 1970.)


Betty, as she was known to her friends and family, opened the Apple Tree gift shop. Although Savoring Saginaw states that Betty’s shop opened after her husband’s death, the shop actually opened seven years prior. Her son, John, took over the orchard business after his father’s death and expanded it to present day Apple Mountain Golf and Ski Resort.


 

Never Fully Dressed Without a … Cocktail Dress


Following WWII, Americans in the growing middle class had more disposable income, and they used that income to perform their new status. Taking cues for popular culture, such as television shows and movies, they embraced new household items and new fashion trends. When studying these items, we refer to them as material culture.


Historian Lori Hall-Araujo explains that during the war gender norms were set aside, but by the late 1940s and early 1950s, clothing in particular, transformed in such as way as to reinforce gender differences. With the war rationing over,

clothing designers like Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy created trends that used yards of extra fabric and emphasized a feminine body shape.


The cocktail dress, neither a day dress nor an evening dress, signified this in-between space from the end of the workday to the dinner hour. The dress has been compared to an upside-down martini glass with its cinched waist and voluminous skirt which stopped mid-calf. The fabrics selected had the rich quality of an evening gown, but the shorter length reflected a day dress.




Setting the Stage


These mid-century trends in the material culture of the cocktail hour lasted through the 1960s. Anyone who watched Mad Men (or anyone who just knows the basic premise), understands how important consumerism was – and the people who stoked consumer-need through advertisement. One needed not only the appropriate attire, but also the proper accouterments – the gadgets, the glassware – to host the proper party.


Dorothy Thorpe

Dorothy Thorpe was a California-based artist who designed glassware with silver overlays and sandblasted motifs onto crystal “blanks” or pre manufactured, plain glasses and other items. Her wide banded silver-rimmed glasses became iconic and much copied. It’s hard to say whether or not Mad Men featured true Thorpe glassware,

but they definitely remind us of the popularity of the style during that era. No home bar would be complete without proper glassware.


If you want to see if your collection is a Thorpe original, look for her signature large T with smaller D.




Lufkin Rule

Sometimes companies that had nothing to do with bartending equipment supplied novelty items that helped the home bartender.


The Lufkin Rule company (est. 1869 in Ohio) moved its operations to Saginaw in 1892. Their business model expanded from supplying the lumbering industry into making all forms of rulers and measuring tapes. Lufkin remained in operation in Saginaw for 77 years after which its new owners moved operations to North Carolina.


This tape measure, on display in our Made in Saginaw exhibit, features drinks recipes on the back to help the home cocktail party host.




We don't know the date this tape measure was made, but we suspect it may have been produced as a party favor. The face of the device has a rooster, which has long been used as a symbol for cocktails. It can be used to make measurements since it has a standard imperial ruler on the front side of the tape. The back features recipes such as an Old Fashioned, Bacardi, Bronx, Gin Rickey, El Presidente, the Clover and more.




Bacardi

2/3 Bacardi rum

1/3 Grenadine

Juice of 1/2 lime


Shake.


Note: There is a joyful irony in a lack of clarity in these measurements since it's on the back of a measuring tape. Take it to mean two parts rum to one part grenadine, drink size of your choice.


 

On July 21, Dr. Amy French, a history professor at Delta College will present “Mixing It Up: Michigan Barmaids Fight for Civil Rights,” for History After Hours.


Don't miss other Cocktail Hour posts:

It's 5 O'clock Somewhere and Complications of Prohibition



 

Sources:

Alma Fullford Whitaker, Bacchus Behave: The Lost Art of Polite Drinking (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1933).

Lori Hall-Araujo, "At Home with Postwar Cocktail Culture and the Cocktail Dress," The Shaken and the Stirred: The Year's Work in Cocktail Culture, eds. Stephen Schneider and Craig N. Owens (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2020).

"Who Is Dorothy Thorpe and What Glassware Can Be Attributed to Her?" The Hour Shop.

Savoring Saginaw cookbook.

The Saginaw News, September 28, 1970.