It's been a while hasn't it? Well, when it rains it pours.
I stopped by to pass on good news to a designer when he started pulling books off his shelves and out of filing cabinets. I've seen a lot of historical ephemera on men's apparel but that book up there blew my mind, cleaned my clock and stole my girlfriend. Used as a trade catalog in 1926, nothing was better said by an employee, "If a guy couldn't sell with this book he was brain dead." Or something to that effect.
This is where I'm supposed to tell you the name of the book. Some of you are probably expecting a link to the book's listing on Alibris. And I would imagine there are a few of you who expect me to buy the book for you while I help you blow your nose. Let me get my handkerchief...
Welch-Margetson & Co. Ltd. Thumb indexed and hard covered with lots of color plates. Back in 2004 a lucky buyer picked up four hard cover and three paperback catalogs from Christies for $1,051. Keep a look out but until then check out more images from W-M on the blog, "The Age of Uncertainty." He won't help you blow your nose but he'll sell you a book.
I was reading about popular drinks in the 1920's and 30's and was surprised to learn scotch and bourbon were considered below the salt and not at all what the erudite and sophisticated New Yorker drank. That confirmed Toots Shor's tipple of choice, brandy and soda. I used 10 year Decaumont ($13) for the dangerous Side Car here but can't find it. Blansac (4th from left) makes for a good Side Car and runs about $20 a litre. It's a little gritty with soda but has the backbone you need for a Brandy Old Fashioned a la the Wisconsin Dinner Club in Door County on a Friday night. It pairs well with the all-you-can-eat perch fry for $9.50 but be sure to save some room for the cheery cobbler, doncha know.
The De Ville (1st from left) is very light and I found it lacking. But I like the label so it's on my bar but filled with the St. Remy (3rd from left) which is a little steep ($19) but is complex enough to stand on it's own in a snifter. No surprise it's made by Remy Martin. Chatelle (5th from left -$18) was disappointing given the sale job from the wine store. Then again, I may not have the discriminating palette of a brandy buff. The Montmartre (2nd from left) stood out as cheap ($15), complex and very smooth with a hint of sweetness. It's perfect alone in a snifter but is clean and bright with soda. It's also perfect with sweet vermouth and orange bitters for a poor man's Brandy Manhattan. I'll pour Montmarte into the Hine VSOP bottle when it's empty.
Brandy and cognac are derived from grapes rather than grain or corn. And like Manzanilla Sherry, there's not a lot of interest and that's why they're so cheap. Sadly, the trade catalog from Welch & Margetson is not but I thought you should know about it. OK, you can blow now.