The Reservation Literally No One Can Get
Why don’t we have a hidden secret restaurant in the Twin Cities like the farcical The Last Parsnip? If this place were real, I would check it out. Wouldn’t you?
I love Rabelais Books in Maine. You can find first editions, rarities, new books from hot chefs, and limited editions from chefs you dream about meeting some day. I treasure the Italian and Japanese books I bought last year. Since it the year of the cocktail, how about giving one of these rare old books to the overindulgence-prone adults on your naughty list?
1. The Distiller by Harrison Hall (1818; $900). The second edition of an early American distilling manual, and describes processes used to make bourbon years before the first printed reference to “bourbon whiskey.”
2. Manuel Théorique et Pratique du Fabricant de Cidre et de Poiré (1834; $500). The first edition of an early manual on the production of cider and perry.
3. How to Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas (1864; $4,500). The first real cocktail recipe book. Thomas was “a bartender who had traveled and worked in most of America’s great metropolitan cities vacuuming up cocktail recipes as he went, and a true showman, an aspect of bartending which is today still nearly as important as the drink mixing itself.”
4. The Independent Liquorist by L. Monzert (1886; $900). Explains the art of manufacturing and preparing cordials, syrups, bitters, wines, champagne, beer, punches, tinctures, extracts, essences, flavorings, colorings, Worcestershire sauce, club sauce, catsups, pickles, preserves, jams, jellies, and so on.
5. Sulz’s Compendium of Flavorings by Charles Herman Sulz (1888; $300). A manual for making essences, flavorings, syrups, and more.
6. Drinks As They Are Mixed by Paul E. Lowe (1904; $500). An early pocket bartender’s guide that includes toasts and comical illustrations.
7. Coffee by Wm. McKinnon & Co. (1914; $1,200). No. 847 of a trade catalogue of coffee plantation machinery. Describes coffee pulpers, extractors, dryers, centrifuges, hullers, polishers, winnowers, graders, and more.
8. Les Eaux-de-vie et les alcools by Pagès, G. (1914; $250). A detailed manual on the production of fruit brandies, or “waters of life.”
9. My Pious Friends and Drunken Companions by Frank Shay and illustrated by John Held Jr. (1927; $200) Songs and ballads of conviviality collected from curious sources and illustrated with woodcuts.
10. The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock (1930; $2,500). The iconic art-deco, prohibition-era cocktail book, compiled by ex-patriot bartender Harry Craddock of London’s Savoy Hotel.
11. The Bon Vivant’s Companion, or, How to Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas (1930; $300). A reprint of the Jerry Thomas original bartending book published in the prohibition era, edited and introduced by Herbert Asbury, author of Gangs of New York.
12. Drink Mixer (1931; $350), distributed “compliments of Nat M. Leff, Boxing Promoter, boxers furnished for entertainments, smoker, etc., twenty-four hour service.” This piece of prohibition-era cocktailiana presents recipes for 72 concoctions, listed alphabetically from Alexander to Woodstock.
13. Punches and Cocktails by Charles of Delmonicos (1934; $900). A wonderful bar book, “written, not with the crude and rough hand of any careless bartender, but with the fastidious and delicate hand of one who has served drinks to Princes, Magnates, and Senators of many wealthy nations.”
14. Alambics, Appareils de Distillation by Deroy Fils Aine (1935; $700). A trade catalogue of alembic distilling equipment.
15. Das Grosse Lehrbuch der Bar by Harry Schraemli (1943; $350). An early edition of the authoritative Swiss bartending manual. Schraemli (1903-1995) was a noted Swiss culinary author, hotelier, restaurateur, and book collector, as well as the founder and curator of the Swiss Gastronomie-Museum in Thun.
16. Pour Faire de Bons Cidres by René Dauvray (1947; $60). First edition of this illustrated guide to cider making.
17. The Bon Vivant’s Companion by George A. Zabriskie (1948; $350). This is the second edition of this privately printed book by Zabriskie, an art collector and businessman associated with the Pillsbury Flour Mills, and a longtime president of the New York Historical Society.
18. Le Barman Universel by Pierre Dagouret (1951; $300). This cocktail recipe book and bar manual is a volume of the series Le Petite Encyclopedie du Restaurateur.
19. Chateau Latour: The History of a Great Vineyard by Charles Higounet (1993; $500). A grand history of one of the grandest of Bordeaux chateaux.