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Saturday, May 16, 2015

An Early Cartoon in Athens

Finished Richard II and still hoping to find II Henry IV. So between histories, I picked up a book of between-the-wars travelogues by Evelyn Waugh, WHEN THE GOING WAS GOOD. A frightening book in a way, both with regards to how much we've lost and how little we care and also, yes, the melancholy understanding that attends reading an old book by a good writer: how few people value good writing to-day, and how many of we few (so often as I do myself!) elect to pour over the artful and unsanitized lives of characters long dead to dull airport prose that promotes the living.

But come to page 59 and Waugh, now in Athens on his meandering way to Ethiopia, describes a drink that is certainly a Cartoon cocktail: bitters, sugar, cayenne, champagne. He appears not to know the name of it.

I don't myself know the first mention of this drink. For what it's worth, the date of Waugh's Athenian cocktail, 1929, that fateful year, which he calls "unendurably desirable," is not the date of the publication of this book. The Cartoon is nonetheless decidedly not in the Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930; but Cartoon is indeed mentioned, however, in the 1937 Cafe Royal Cocktail Book Coronation edition. I'd be grateful to learn of any earlier references, lest we credit Mr. Waugh with too much.

The good Dr. Cocktail at the Cocktail db affords this recipe:

Shake with ice and strain
Champagne glass
Fill up with Champagne
1 lump of sugar saturated with Angostura bitters (1/2 oz, 1.5 cl, 1/8 gills)
Serve in a Champagne glass (6.0 oz)
&c. Another one to keep in mind around the holidays, around your birthday, around your anniversary, and around any time you may wake up discovering you have a surfeit of champagne from the preceding night.

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