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"The Savoy Cocktail Book"
By Harry Craddock (1876–1963)
1st edition, 2nd printing with the "Additional Cocktails" pp.282-283
London, Constable & Co Ltd, 1930
287pp.: 221 pages of recipes
Illustrations throughout by Gilbert Rumbold
Octavo: 19.7cm x 13.6cm x 2.7cm (7.8" x 5.4" x 1.1”)
An elegant, neat inscription on the dedication page from Carl Brisson (1893–1958), the Danish born, early Hollywood movie star and entertainer.
Condition is very good indeed, a near fine copy, immaculate internally. Silver/gold foil covered boards, printed with a black, green and grey art deco design. Bound with black cloth to spine with gilt lettering. Coloured pictorial endpapers. Minor bumps to corners, some rubbing to edges and boards. Some oxidization and mottling to the covers, as invariably found on copies of this edition. Very minor dividing of the fabric towards middle of the fore hinge. Really an exceptionally well preserved copy of this famous book.
The iconic "Savoy Cocktail Book" has long been recognized as a quintessential book in exemplarizing the fun and frivolity of the 1930s. In 1926 Harry Craddock (1876-1963),“the king of cocktail shakers", left Prohibition U.S.A. to become the head barman of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London. In the late 1920's the management of "the Savoy" had embraced the new "style moderne" ("Art Deco") and begun an innovative programme to update not just the hotel's appearance, but its entire image. In 1930 the now instantly recognizable entrance with its stainless steel portico, gilded statue of Count Peter of Savoy and distinctive modernist signage was unveiled. As part of projecting the hotel's chic new identity, the innovative managing director, George Reeves-Smith, had the idea of putting together a Savoy-branded book on wine and cocktails. He delegated the realization of this to his Publicity Director, the very well connected Richmond Temple. Little is known about the specific genesis of the scheme but, on 1st April 1930, Temple signed a deal with Constable & Co Ltd to publish the book. The Savoy's star barman Harry Craddock was asked to commit to paper everything he knew about mixology. He duly set down recipes for around 750 drinks, along with recording a host of other information and anecdotes useful for the bartender. Although uncredited, it is thought that Richmond Temple's friend Vyvyan Holland (1886-1967) (younger son of Oscar Wilde) helped with editing and contributed some of the elegant writing and phraseology.
The book was, of course, launched at a cocktail party. Around 250 "Limited Edition" copies were signed by Harry Craddock and those books designed for general distribution were then made available to bookshops from Trafalgar Day (21st October) 1930. These have an errata slip for a "Bacardi Cocktail" bound in between pages 24-25. The second-printing of the 1st Edition (as here) included nine "Additional Cocktails" on pp.282-283 (including the previously omitted "Bacardi Cocktail"). This more comprehensive book, printed within weeks of the launch, also includes a Gilbert Rumbold designed advertisement for Booth's Dry Gin as endorsed by Harry Craddock.
Craddock’s text, the sumptuous quality of the production, the innovative layout and design and the bold style of Gilbert Rumbold's profuse art deco illustrations all combine to make these First Editions of the "Savoy Cocktail Book" particularly sought after as one of the archetypal artefacts of the Jazz Age and an essential and historic reference work for the mixing of cocktails.
The elegant manuscript inscription on the dedication page reads:
“Robert Burns / with best wishes / Carl Brisson / 1931”
Carl Brisson was a Danish-born actor and entertainer who began his career as a prizefighting boxer and crooner in the nightclubs and cabarets of Copenhagen. He appeared in various British and Hollywood films through the silent era and into the golden age of "talkies". He was the first teenage idol of the young Greta Garbo. His most famous starring roles are probably those in two early Alfred Hitchcock movies "The Ring" (1927) and "The Manxman" (1929). The “Robert Burns” mentioned here is probably not a person but, more likely, a reference to the “Bobby Burns Cocktail” described by Harry Craddock on p.33 of the book as “One of the very best Whisky Cocktails. A very fast mover on Saint Andrew’s Day”. (Though Albert Stevens Crockett, author of the rival Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book [published in response to the "Savoy Cocktail Book" a year later], indicates the cocktail itself may actually have been named after a bar-frequenting cigar salesman of the same name). We could also maybe speculate that Brisson presented the book on Burns Night (25 January).
It is also fascinating to note that Carl Brisson was the first artist to perform the song “Cocktails for Two” (celebrating an end to Prohibition in the U.S.), which made its debut in his 1934 movie “Murder at the Vanities”. Duke Ellington went on to have a hit with this tune later that year.
A sound, tight, tidy and very fine copy of this highly sought-after book with an interesting contemporary celebrity association
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