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Blast from the Past

  • Ever helpful, the proper glass for each cocktail is shown right on the recipe card.

By Denise Mickelsen, senior editor

April 10th, 2009

My husband recently found this little gem on our bookshelf, and I just had to share. In this, the 2nd of two volumes of A Guide to Pink Elephants (published in 1957), readers will find the "200 most requested mixed drinks on alcohol resistant cards."  Alcohol resistant?! I couldn't help but sprinkle some water onto one of the cards to see, and yup, after a quick wipe it was as if the water had never been there at all.

Not only do these sweet little cards repell liquids, but the cocktails within are fantastic, a true blast from the past.  We're talking drinks with names like What-Cheer Punch, Cholly Knickerbocker, Elysean Nymphs, September Morn, Paree Pousse Cafe, and much, much more. There is even a canape section, with tasty tidibits like Herring Snack and Coconut Cheese.  Oh my.

Here are a few fun (aka gross) drinks to consider:

Gin and Milk

1 1/2 oz. Gin
Cold milk

Place gin in glass. Add cold milk and serve.

       This sounds like something a 1950's housewife would put together to hide her drinking before noon...

Hell Raiser

1 1/2 oz. Gin
3/4 oz. Scotch
1 tsp. sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 egg

Shake with crushed ice and strain into cocktail glass.

       How do you add 1/2 an egg? And why would you want to mix eggs with Scotch, gin and lime?  Ugh.

Not to give Pink Elephants a bad rep, here are a few cocktails that I can't wait to try:

Stone Fence

1 1/2 oz. Bourbon
2 ice cubes

Place ice cubes and bourbon in 8 oz. highball glass. Fill with chilled cider and serve.

Jungle Julep

2 oz. dark rum
2 oz. light rum
Dash apricot brandy
6 sprigs mint, fresh
1/2 tsp. powdered sugar

Dissolve sugar in small amount of water. Add mint. Stir with ice until glass is frosted. Add dark and light rum and apricot brandy.

Decorate with mint.

What are your favorite old-school drinks?

posted in: Blogs, cocktails, Denise Mickelsen, gin, rum, bourbon, great finds, scotch, mixed drinks
Comments (10)

JuliRoberts writes: there was one my grandad used to Spanish is was Beso de Angel...or Angel's Kiss.

It was served in a small glass like a sherry glass or something liqueur with heavy cream floated on top with a marachino cherry on a toothpick suspended over the rim of the glass. and you would drink it with the cherry there for the flavor and then eat the cherry at the end.

that drink warms you from the inside out! it was lovely!!!! Posted: 3:17 pm on April 21st

DMickelsen writes: Hi Pielove - That sounds delicious! I love the idea of there being a blue hue to the drink, too. Now I just need to get some creme de violette... Posted: 12:36 pm on April 20th

Pielove writes: Hi Denise-- An aviation has gin, lemon juice, and maraschino liqueur. In very old versions, creme de violette is also added, giving a slight sky-blue tinge. The older versions are really lovely in a slightly perfumey way.

pie Posted: 8:30 pm on April 19th

DMickelsen writes: Pielove, what's an Aviation? It's not in Pink Elephants... : ) Posted: 1:56 pm on April 14th

Pielove writes: My husband has been on an Aviation kick-- the recipe he found was from 1916 in an article by Robert Hess. Yum! Posted: 9:23 pm on April 12th

DMickelsen writes: Dabneyg,

There are tons of recipes for cobblers and fizzes and the like in the Pink Elephants. Some are just funny, but some sound delicious. Posted: 4:08 pm on April 10th

Barb A. writes: "Seeing pink elephants" was a euphemism for delirium tremens in the days when heavy drinking was cool. Posted: 3:54 pm on April 10th

illbebaking writes: My absolute favorite mixed drink has to be the brazilian caipirinha, but I am not sure if this could be considered old-school in the U.S. It seems like it should be with America's obsession with Brazil in the 1950s (think bossa nova and samba - hell, Frank Sinatra even sings about all the coffee there - even though most of it is sub-par). Anyone know if the caipirihna was ever popular in the U.S. back then?

Andy Posted: 3:03 pm on April 10th

dabneyg writes: You may be interested to know about the reproductions of vintage cocktail books available at - I have been working my through the Modern Bartenders' Guide from there, and it's great. It covers a whole taxonomy of drinks that just aren't made much anymore - flips and fizzes and cobblers and more. Most amusingly, some recipes say to set up a glass with ice (and maybe a mixer) and "hand the bottle of gin to the customer." Any bartender that did that with me would be in trouble... Posted: 2:28 pm on April 10th

LisaWaddle writes: That Stone Fence DOES sound good.
Any idea why it's called the guide to Pink Elephants? Am I missing some alcohol-related reference here? Posted: 1:25 pm on April 10th

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