I wrote a story in this weekend's San Francisco Chronicle about Charles H. Baker's cocktails and their popularity, centering around the program at Heaven's Dog in San Francisco.
"A hazy memory of a night in Havana during the unpleasantnesses of 1933, when each swallow was punctuated with bombs going off on the Prado..."
This line by Charles H. Baker Jr. introduces not an account of Cuban rebellion but the cocktail Remember the Maine, which he was drinking there while it took place. Baker wrote about drinks from his travels around the world in the early 1900s, mostly during Prohibition, when the drinking in the United States wasn't legal - or very good.
Other drinks in Baker's two-volume "The Gentleman's Companion" are introduced from such ports of call as Beijing, Monte Carlo and Bombay (now Mumbai), ripe with mentions of princes, peacocks, cruises up the Nile and hanging out with Hemingway.
Bartenders in particular have latched on to Baker as a patron saint of good living, and his cocktails and quotes from his writings are both appearing on drink menus.
"I've always thought that when you have a drink there's so much that comes with it: your friends, who you're with, the time of the day," says Erik Adkins, general manager of Heaven's Dog in SoMa. "And (Baker) captured all that.."
But for all the excitement about Baker's cocktails, they share an unfortunate common trait.
read the rest of the story here.
In the story I also mentioned the forthcoming coffee/cocktail bar Fort Defiance, in Brooklyn, that should be opening later this month. But that's not the only bar to put Baker back on the menu:
The Brooklyn bar Clover Club dedicated a small section of the menu to what owner Julie Reiner says are Baker’s best cocktails this winter, including the Remember the Maine.
In Portland, Ore., the bar Beaker and Flask, named for the subtitle of one volume of “Gentleman’s Companion,” is set to open. Owner Kevin Ludwig says he’ll be featuring Baker drinks on the menu, though not exclusively.
In Amsterdam, speakeasy-style bar door 74 recently offered several pages of Baker drinks, with the menu letterhead mimicking the Baker’s own.
Baker's globe-hopping cocktail book is now helping those cocktails hop back around the world.