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OP: The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book

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by Albert S. Crockett

Dodd, Mead and Company, 1934. Hardcover. Very Good, no jacket. First printing.

We proudly present here the very scarce 1934 first printing (Dodd Mead, New York) of newspaperman Albert Crockett’s The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. Crockett was the press agent for and a champion of the bar for many years and spent more hours “gathering material” than he might care to confess. In 1931, during Prohibition and after the hotel’s move further uptown, Crockett published Old Waldorf Bar Days, a history of the brass rail and its renowned cocktails.

This second book, published after the repeal of the 18th Amendment, is a bit of a rehashing of the original but focuses more on the cocktail recipes, as they were (officially) useful once again. He presents many of the same recipes, some with minor tweaking, as those in Old Waldorf Bar Days but with less commentary on the origins and histories of each.

Crockett’s musings provide thoughtful context to the drinking habits of post-WWI Europe and America and distinguishes those drinks that originated before the Great War and those before Prohibition. 

Among the “amendments” to the original book, we find notable international influence. Between the war exposing soldiers to new locales and thirsty Americans escaping off to Cuba to satiate their need for liquor, new tastes emerged. Brandy-based drinks like the Sidecar appear along with a large influx of tropically-inclined cocktails from the Caribbean islands.

Our copy was recased in gray cloth by a previous owner with the original cloth covers laid on and re-colored by some crafty hand that, perhaps, was trying to remedy the fading or rubbing off of the original ink. The quality of ink used for the task was certainly not intended for this purpose, and it has begun to smear. The interior is very clean and crisp, printed on high-quality stock, though there are two handwritten recipes on a blank page at the rear. The jacket is absent. Perhaps not peak collectors’ condition, but certainly a respectable example of this not-often-seen title.

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