What it is

Late-breaking telexes from the craft spirit front by Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails, columnist for Imbibe, and designated drinker for The Atlantic magazine.

  • And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
    by Wayne Curtis

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Herbert Asbury on The Professor

Adam Elmegirab performed a fine public service when he manually entered and posted online a 1927 story by Herbert Asbury about America's ur-über-bartender. The story was entitled, simply, "Professor Jerry Thomas," and it ran in The American Mercury, the journal that H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan founded in 1924.

It's classic Asbury — a less-than-academic but fun-to-read account by the author of Gangs of New York and The French Quarter. Sample passage: “Briefly, Jerry Thomas was a bartender. But what a bartender! His name should never be mentioned in the same breath with that of a frowsy gorilla who, in the dark days of Prohibition, may be found lounging behind the bar of dingy basement speakeasy, sloshing luke-warm ginger-ale into a dirty glass half filled with raw alcohol, and then calling the unspeakable concoction a drink.” (I trust that I do not have to point out here that The Frowsy Gorilla would make an excellent name for a new speakeasy.)

If you don't have time to read the piece, above is a handy sort-of-summary by Wordle, a website that has done more for me than even YouTube in consuming what could have been otherwise productive time. Above is a word map of the 100 most common words in Asbury's story, with size relative to frequency. (Click image to view.) Wordle summarizes so you don't have to.

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