Highball (St. Louis, 1888?)

Jan Ivarsson janivars at BAHNHOF.SE
Tue Jan 9 13:57:16 UTC 2001

Ice can be frozen into balls by using a metal mold, consisting of two half-spheres joined by a hinge. The two parts can be filled with ground ice and then closed together and deep frozen in an ice-cream freezer, using salt and ice in the traditional way.
This method is described (for making ice-cream balls) in an old Swedish cooking manual (Hagdahl, 1879, new ed. 1891).

Jan Ivarsson
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----- Original Message -----
Sent: den 9 januari 2001 00:15
Subject: Re: Highball (St. Louis, 1888?)

> With reference to Barry's recent posting on "highball":
>         "In each glass was also placed an "ice ball"."
>         I have never encountered the word "ice ball"; the only word I am
> familiar with is the now-standard ice-cube.  I can't picture how one
> would freeze ice into balls, and would have supposed that in the
> 1880s ice would have to have been formed in cubes, (or at least
> rectangular solids more likely to be called cubes than balls,) or be
> fragments chopped from a block of ice.
>         "The drink was usually called a "Ball".  Many members, however,
> wanted a bigger drink and they would tell the bartender, "Make it a
> High Ball."
>         It is my impression that the Irish use the word "ball" for a glass
> of whiskey.  I believe that one of the boozers in Ulysses refers to a
> "ball of malt".  If so, would this have a connection?  A highball
> being a ball of liquor in a high glass?
>         Despite having grown up in the company of my father, I was not a
> habitue of barroom when a toddler.  Other hand, neither was I
> unfamiliar with them.  When I got to college, I took a room in a
> working class neighborhood in Allston, within walking distance of
> Boston Univ.  The bar in my neighborhood -- the Brighton Avenue Cafe
> -- was a working man's joint, exactly the sort of place my father
> would take me into, if he needed a beer.  Or even if he didn't need
> one, but he hardly ever didn't need one.  My friends from college
> would have me take them there, and they would be goggle-eyed at being
> in a place where drinkers at the bar wore paint-speckled overalls.
> The bar-tender, Les, who claimed to have pitched in the majors in the
> 1920s, was a cut-up.  One of his standard gags was to bet someone
> that he could throw a ball into the phonebooth in the corner.  If the
> bet was taken, he would go into a cramped windup, with empty hands,
> and mimic a throw toward the booth; then he'd send his foil to look
> in the booth, when he would have planted a glass of whiskey -- a
> ball.  (You were wondering how this would be relevant, weren't you.)
>         To become irrelevant, or even more irrelevant than usual, the first
> time I went into the Cafe, Les tried one of his gags on me.  I might
> have been from a working class family, and raised to be at home in
> low saloons, but I also had "college kid" written all over me.  After
> Les served me, he said, "Listen, you're a baseball fan, right, know
> the game?  Tell me this, who would you say is the greatest
> ball-player who ever lived."  I don't remember noticing the other
> bar-flies nudging each other and saying "watch Les give it to this
> kid", but I figured I was being set up for something.  So I said,
> "Gee, that's a tough one, the greatest ever.  I guess I would have to
> say, Big Ed Delehanty."  Les didn't say anything for a few seconds,
> and then said, "Where in the hell did you ever hear of him?"  The
> script, you see, called for me to say Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams,
> or some other player of the day, and then Les would say, "Shit, they
> don't teach you young punks nothing about history in school.  You
> never heard of a man named Babe Ruth?"  and he'd be off.  But when he
> had been a kid himself, I think, his uncles and his father's friends
> would ask him "who's the greatest ball play of all time" and he's
> say, Babe Ruth, and they'd say, "Shit, you young punks don't know
> nothing about history.  Ruth is nothing compared to Big Ed
> Delehanty."
>         End of irrelevancy.
>         Actually, not quite.  I used to say frequently that the best advice
> that my father had ever given me, indeed the only good advice he'd
> ever given, was that if I ever saw the sign "Tables for Ladies" in
> the window of a bar, I could know that it was a low dive, and I
> should stay out of it.  I tested this advice frequently when I got to
> college, and it proved valid every time.  I remember one of my
> friends coming to me bubbling: she and her boy friend had actually
> seen a bar with that sign in the window, and she had wanted him to
> take her in, but he wouldn't.  Perhaps his father had known my
> father.

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