The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930)

compiled by Harry Craddock of The Savoy Hotel London

Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 28, this year. Every year I host a party for many friends. One of my guests, Giles Gallant, is the last of London’s dandies. He has his suits made by a woman’s couturier. He says, “until one cuts for a woman, one does not truly know how to cut.” He has sent me an original 1930’s copy of The Savoy Cocktail Book , which he had picked up at a flea market in Paris.  He says this will help me make delicious cocktails for my Thanksgiving lunch.

“The originals of the Savoy Cocktail Book go for up to £150 in London. The one I sent you was a real bargain, only a few Euros. Immediately I thought of you,” he said triumphantly. The beautifully illustrated book is packed with recipes for every alcoholic concoction under the sun, from Fizzes and Juleps to Smashes and Punch, some with hilarious warnings.

As we all know, The Savoy, synonymous with style, elegance and sophistication, has recently re-opened after two years and the most expensive facelift in history. The Savoy is the birthplace of some of the most famous cocktails. During Prohibition Americans visiting London for the dansant, etc., made the American Bar at the Savoy their home. The legendary barman, Harry Craddock, invented the White Lady and popularized the Dry Martini. The Savoy Cocktail Book features 750 of his most popular recipes, Slings and Sashes, Frizzes and Flips. It is a fascinating record of the cocktails which set London alight in the 30s.

And thus with this beautifully illustrated little book, my dinner guests and I set to work, making all sorts of cocktails, some with amusing names. Here are two of our favourites.

Bunny Hug Cocktail
1/3 gin
1/3 whisky
1/3 Absinthe

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Warning: This Cocktail should immediately be poured down the sink before it is too late.

Corpse Reviver
1/4 wine glass lemon juice
1/4 wine glass Kina Lillet
1/4 wine glass Cointreau
1/4 wine glass dry gin
1 dash Absinthe

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Warning: Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.

By the end of the evening, all agreed with both warnings.

— Mrs M

Original copies of The Savoy Cocktail Book, published by Constable & Company, can be found (if you’re lucky) in good antique bookstores all over the world.

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