Bronx cocktail & Rickey; Strap-Hanger

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Tue Aug 17 05:26:28 UTC 1999

RICKEY (continued)

     Two more versions.  This is from the NEW YORK WORLD (there's a good
photo here), 24 April 1903, pg. 3, col. 4:

     The drink known as the "rickey" was named for Joe Rickey, but not by
him.  Rickey had a habit of drinking in the morning a small "hooker" of
Bourbon whiskey into which he had squeezed half a lime and poured a tumbler
of water.  One morning Fred Mussey walked into the place where Rickey did his
drinking and said to the bartender: "Give me a Rickey!"
     "A which?" asked the bartender.
     "One of those things Rickey drinks."
     The drink was made in a long glass, with Bourbon whiskey, half a lime, a
piece of ice and carbonic water.  Rickey always contended that the use of rye
whiskey or gin in a Rickey made it unfit for a gentleman to drink.

     From the NEW YORK TRIBUNE, 24 April 1903, pg. 9, col. 4:

     He exploited and popularized the gin rickey, though it is asserted
Colonel Watterson christened the drink.
     It was at the St. Louis convention that nominated Tilden (1884?--ed.),
so the story goes, that Colonel Watterson, after being locked in a room for
eighteen hours, where he, as a member of the committee on resolutions had
been trying to build a party platform, emerged, hot, tired and thirsty.
Seeing Rickey, he called to him to join him in a cooling tipple.  When asked
by the bartender what he would have, Colonel Watterson, who had partaken of
the beverage with Colonel Rickey before, said, "Oh, give me one of those--of
those, ah--rickeys."  And the rickey was launched.


     I'm working in the Bronx today.  This is the origin of another old
American drink name.  From WHAT SHALL WE DRINK? (1934) by Magnus Bredenbek,
pg. 13:

     The Bronx Cocktail, strange to say, was invented in Philadelphia, of all
places!  There it might have remained in obscurity had it not been for one
Joseph Sormani, a Bronx restaurateur, who discovered it in the Quaker City in
1905.  (This coincides with the OED cite--ed.)
     The original recipe has been greatly distorted in the course of years,
but here's the original to guide you and to compare with the other recipes
being used:
     Four parts of gin, one part of orange juice and one part of Italian
Vermouth.  Shake thoroughly in ice and serve.

     From the NEW YORK TIMES, 17 August 1947, pg. 17, col. 2:

     Joseph S. Sormani, retired Bronx restaurateur, who was said to have
originated the Bronx cocktail, died Wednesday night in his home, 2322 Fish
Avenue, the Bronx, after a brief illness.  His age was 83.
     Born in Lake Como, Italy, Mr. Sormani came to the United States at the
age of 18.  He was proprietor of Sormani's restaurant at Pelham Parkway and
Boston Road for thirty years until his retirement twelve years ago.


     I take a subway to the Bronx.  The OED has a London "straphanger"
citation from 1905.  The term was also used in New York--before the
underground subway.  This is the first paragraph of a long and illustrated
article in the NEW YORK PRESS, 12 April 1903, magazine section, pg. 7, col. 3:

_No Hope for the Strap-Hanger_
     THERE is no hope for the strap-hanger.  He will hang to his strap when
the underground system is inaugurated next winter just as he hangs to his
strap to-day.

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