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American Mixology: Recipe Books from the Pre-Prohibition Era

This resource guide provides online access to a series of historic printed cocktail and beverage books for bartenders and mixologists, published between 1869 and 1911, from the Library of Congress collections.


H. A. Thomas & Wylie's interior view of the Hoffman House Bar. 1890. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

In these books, recipes for old-fashioned drinks include many names that might be unfamiliar today: cups, cobblers, nogs, flips and toddies, pousse cafe, punches, sangarees, shrubs, smashes, crustas, and scaffas. But there are also modern cocktails, often with intriguing or evocative names: Golden Slipper, Inimitable Cocktail, Gin and Wormwood, Hari-Kari, Hot Locomotive, Stone Fence, Widow's Kiss.

Most of these books feature recipes for making drinks with gin, whiskey, or rum— tequila and vodka don't generally appear in these early mixology books, although there are a few occurrences. Absinthe is also popular--as are a variety of liqueurs and bitters. As a collection, these books show us a particular facet of American culture that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th century and was abruptly brought to a halt in January of 1920 when Prohibition came into force.

These ten books from Library of Congress collections represent a cross-section of pre-Prohibition cocktail culture in America. The earliest book here was published in 1869, and the latest in 1911. The titles in this guide link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress online catalog. A link to the full-text digitized book is included in each book description.

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