“Distinguished” is the word that comes to mind when I look at the cover of this little number, “compliments of National Distillers Products Co.” Three handsome men enjoying fine cocktails in a modern, tasteful setting. Gone is any hint of Victorian clutter. The painting over the fireplace is a Cezanne. The glasses and barware are neat and sleek, as indeed are the three distinguished gentlemen. It’s like what I would imagine what the drawing room in a “gentleman’s club” would look like, if “gentleman’s club” meant what it sounds like it means instead of what it really means.
And that’s the problem here. “Fine Cocktails Made Easy,” speaks from the cool, distant and repressed depths of the Eisenhower era. The men wear neatly tailored suits as they lounge around a cleanly dull interior setting. Where’s the fun? Where are the women? This could have been a booklet of fruit juice recipes for all the excitement it exudes. But I sense some turbulence under the surface of those tranquil waters. In the ‘50s people drank, smoked and couples did not sleep in separate twin beds no matter what they showed you on Leave it to Beaver.
And I may be reading too much into this, but from the forced-looking smile on the face of the gentleman mixing the drink, I imagine this is a meeting with his imperious future father-in-law and his bride-to-be’s smug brother. I can almost hear him thinking, “if I have to spend another second with these pompous stiffs, I better make this one a double… no, a triple.”
In any case, this booklet features classic and distinguished cocktail recipes presented in a sleek and sophisticated and bloodless design. Estimated date of publication: Early 50s.