Martin’s Index Update: The UKBG

Today’s update for Martin’s Index is courtesy of the New York State jury selection system, which gave me a solid, uninterrupted day in which to be surprisingly productive.

The United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild’s founding members—some of whom were refugees from behind US bars—can be significantly credited with picking up the baton dropped when the US adopted Prohibition. By the mid-1930s, the Guild was formally organized under Harry Craddock’s leadership and one of their endeavors was a standardized recipe manual. The first edition of this manual, Approved Cocktails, appears to have been released in 1937. Many more UKBG cocktail manuals would be released in ensuing years, adopting the less prescriptive title The UKBG Guide to Drinks. Also, in 1937, UKBG board member and Café Royal head bartender William Tarling published a cocktail book aimed at the general public and intended to raise charitable funds: The Café Royal Cocktail Book. One of my next tasks will be cross referencing the Café Royal Cocktail Book with Approved Cocktails, but I would not be surprised to find significant overlap or indications that the principal editor of Approved Cocktails was, in fact, Tarling himself.

Meanwhile, I’ve selected 111 recipes to add to the index. Some are a bit whacky, others eminently straightforward. Original drinks are carefully credited to their creators—presumably all members of the UKBG. There’s an excessive number of drinks improvised for the coronation of George VI, some of which I’ve included. Perhaps more interesting are the represented trends in ingredients. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of gin. On the other hand, there’s a lot of passion fruit juice and liqueur, perhaps because Pash was aggressively marketed at the time? We can certainly see these bartenders experimenting more with vodka. Grand Marnier and Aurum are everywhere. There’s was clearly a fascination with goldwasser and Sansilvestro—imported herbal liqueurs featuring a suspension of gold or silver flakes. Strega appears. Most unexpected is the appearance of Polish imports, including zubrowka and rowan berry-flavored spirits (jarzebiak). Finally, there’s the regional stuff: apple gin and “Moussec Champagne” (English sparkling wine made from imported grapes—Eek!)

Enjoy!