by KEITH MICHAEL CHESTER
When “The Man Who Taught America How to Sing” first met inventor Frederick Jacob Osius in his backstage dressing room of a 1936 radio performance, entertainer Fred Waring probably had no idea that the two were about to start a revolution across multiple industries. The Waring Blendor (with an “O”) would make its debut in 1937, selling for $29.75, and (as boasted at the time), found in over 35,000 restaurants, hotels, clubs and bars.
One of those clubs would have been the famous “Don the Beachcomber” in Hollywood, CA., we’re ex-bootlegger Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt, or Donn Beach as he was later known, would single-handedly invent the tropical drink genre. Grandfather of the Tiki bar lounges that were popular in the 40s and 50s, Donn, was known for exotic rum punches, and was the first known restaurateur to mix flavored syrups and fresh fruit juices with rum. Rhum Rhapsodies, as they were (and are) known, quickly became a hit with the Hollywood elite.
It wasn’t long after the introduction of the Waring Blendor, that Donn began crafting frozen “Tiki Drinks”, the genesis of such iconic drinks as the frozen Pina Colada, frozen daiquiri and the frozen margarita. These frozen drinks put many blenders through the paces over the ensuing years, but fell into disfavor with bartenders, bars and clubs, or relegated to the “frozen machine” for ease of use, no noise and less hassle. Alas, this indispensible tool of the frozen tropical drink era faded from the stage only to be of service to the home bar on weekends, the food industry and the smoothie revolution.
Even with the uptick in craft bartending, the blender was not immediately welcomed back. Craft cocktails and old fashioned bartending theater were more about old world artisanship and pre-prohibition era cocktails – pre-blender. However, there has been a shift in the wind. Little by little, bars, clubs and artisan bartenders are dusting off the mechanical monoliths of yesteryear and starting to re-embrace the blender.
It is with that spirit that Cocktail Journals brings the blender back into the conversation. In the article “Crushing Cocktails”, we bring you five top-notch blenders of the modern era, including two that we’ve picked from Waring Blenders as a nod to Fred Waring and Frederick Osius.
Also in this issue, Cocktail Journals pays respect to Chicago native Charles Joly… the “Greatest Bartender in the World”; the historic Gunter hotel in San Antonio gets a facelift; we visit Rebecca Creek Distillery; and Bonnie Osterhage consults with Bohanan’s bartenders on building a better home bar, drink stations for cocktail parties and the overall “Art of the Cocktail”.
So, sit back with a tumbler of your favorite bourbon… after all, September is National Bourbon Heritage month. We’ll see you in October – cheers!