Harry McElhone coming to Martin’s Index

The next database update for Martin’s Index is going to be a doozy. Around 1922, Harry McElhone (ex-Plaza Hotel, New York City) produced Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails, the first major collection of drink recipes after Prohibition began in the USA. This he did from his brief new perch in London before moving onto immortality as the proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. While I knew Harry’s ABC was significant, I only just began to realize how significant as I got into preparing this update.

(Thanks David Wondrich for the photo)

Harry’s ABC not only carries to Europe a reasonably representative subset of American formulae (and McElhone was clearly a Harry Johnson devotee), but documents dozens of genuinely novel ideas, many contributed by bartenders—American ex-patriot and otherwise—working in Europe in the early 1920s. Some new (then Euro-centric) ingredients are at work, but in most cases, just fresh thinking. So, this collection isn’t merely an “ark”, but documents a thrilling sprint forward almost immediately after the stewardship of cocktail culture passed to Europe.