The Cocktail:
An American Icon:
Case 14

From the early Egyptian dynasties on, wine, both medicated and not, was commonly prescribed medicine.

In time, concoctions with wine or spirits or both spawned popular beverages for leisure and hospitality.  None has become more popular than the cocktail, a mixed drink “invented” in America and first mentioned in print in 1806.

To much of Europe in the earlier twentieth century, the cocktail (with jazz) was the most visible American export.

If Europe brought wine to the New World, we brought the cocktail to the Old. The cocktail literature is vast and often entertaining in text and illustration. The Savoy (London), So Red the Nose with its literary associations, and Jerry Thomas (1887) the famed mixicologist are prime examples.

But not all were welcoming.  Paul Iribe was a noted French designer, artist and fashion illustrator.  In 1932, the French wine merchant Nicolas commissioned Iribe to produce a series of political cartoons contrasting the vulgarity in drink of the (other) world powers with the refinement of wine-drinking France.

The startling black and white illustration below depicts Prohibition era, cocktail-drinking America as mob-ridden, sinisterly dark cities. 

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