Thursday, January 28, 2016

Library of Vintage Cocktail Books

Last Christmas I stumbled upon this book on Pinterest called Bacchus Behave!: The lost art of Polite Drinking. I felt certain that this was THE perfect book for my friend Nicholas. He loves spirits, loves Bacchus, and just hates exclamation points. Anyway, I set about trying to buy this book and people wanted hundreds of dollars for it--which might I say, seems worth every penny. Sadly, I did not have this many pennies in my holiday budget. But the interwebs, she just gives and gives. In my search for something object-ey, I instead found something entirely more vast and digital-ey. I stumbled upon the EUVS Digital Collection. This digital library contains I-don't-know-how-many scanned volumes of cocktail books. Their online reader is really amazing, making it possible to actually read and work from these texts. This collection appears to be the library for the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux. In addition to cocktail books, there are also books on customs and glassware. Really, this is such a finely curated library it's worth your time to check it out even if your idea of a cocktail is a bottle of beer.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Beautiful Music

Today my friend, Stephanie, took me to Madam Zuzu's in Highland Park. It's the second time we've been there. Mostly it's a tea shop, but it has records, too. I found this lovely album by Jackie Gleason called Music, Martinis, and Memories. As you can see, the cover is amazing. On the back it reads: music, martinis, and memories...each creates a wonderfully soft, romantic haze. This makes it sound kind of like Gleason is going to get me drunk and take advantage of me.

Until this afternoon, I had no idea that Jackie Gleason had anything to do with music. There were no liner notes and the text on the back was of little help, so I turned to the trusty Wikipedia. Apparently, Gleason just willed these albums to happen. He didn't play on them and wasn't the producer exactly. It's more like he said, "hey, make a record that will help me get lucky this weekend." Et voila! My new favorite record. Wikipedia called this record "mood music." It was hyperlinked, which I thought was pretty odd. Turns out this music genre actually has a name: beautiful music. I have a big collection of this music. At my favorite local record shop, Audio Archaeology, I just usually go in and ask the man at the counter if he has any new White People music. He hooked me up with a great Henry Mancini album called Dear Heart and Other Songs About Love. Most of the songs are pretty messed up. Now that I have these key search terms, the world of beautiful music is my oyster. Music, Martinis, and Memories is on Spotify if you want to listen to it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Beginner Housewife

The charming librarians at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Flaxman Library got me this awesome book, The Beginner Housewife via inter-library loan from, Guess where? New Zealand! I did for a moment question using the school's resources to procure this book for me. I read the book cover-to-cover, which took about two hours. I lingered. It was short and easy to read. Maybe the "Beginner" referred to reading level and out there somewhere there is The Intermediate Housewife and The Advanced Housewife. There's all sorts of tasties in the table of contents, from the basics of planning your day to the mysterious "masculine mending."

The thing that really struck me about this book is the publication date. It says 1956, but the advice in it seems really old. For example, the book talks about "if you are lucky enough to have a refrigerator." Really, by 1956 I would think most people would have had a refrigerator. By 1956, I would think a refrigerator would not be considered a luxury and that the lack of one would be seen as just that, a lack. It doesn't take very long for appliances of convenience to move from luxury to necessity.

Perhaps related to the refrigerator is the section that covers keeping a "stock-pot." I realize this is a time-honored tradition, but I was pretty surprised to see it in a book this recent. If you'd like to keep a stock pot here's some helpful advice:
1. Keep it covered.
2. Boil it up every day.
3. Never put anything into it but meat (including gristle and bacon rinds) and bones (fresh or cooked).
4. Empty it out daily and clean the pan thoroughly. (64)
I'm not so sure about this...

Overall the book was delight and I actually picked up some helpful hints. I found the
breakfast section really interesting because it included a lot of tinned fish. That would go over big in our house. Despite the total cuteness of this book, it's hardly been checked out.

The back jacket advertises a couple of other books. One is How To Succeed at Business Without Really Trying, which might actually be my favorite movie. It's certainly my go-to when I feel stressed out. I've already put on hold How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead, by Mrs. Dale Carnegie. I don't have a husband, I have a wife, but it couldn't hurt, right? The last book they advertise is The Secrets of Happiness. I'm not so sure about that one either.