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Tricentennial Reading List (Cocktails) With Judy Walker


Susan Larson continues our discussion of food books with Judy Walker about cocktail guides.

Cocktail books

  • Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em, by Stanley Clisby Arthur
  • In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks, by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan
  • Obituary Cocktail, by Kerri McCaffety
  • Shaking Up Prohibition in New Orleans: Authentic Vintage Cocktails from A to Z, by Olive Leonhardt and Hilda Phelps Hammond
  • History with a Twist—Lemon or Lime, by Joe Gendusa


Larson: We just don’t talk about food here. We also talk about cocktails, and we read books about cocktails. Let’s talk about some of those cocktail books. I think Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to mix ‘em by Stanley Clisby Arthur was the granddaddy of them all.

Walker: That’s the granddaddy, 1937. It’s a very hail fellow well met book, and I think it’s still in print.

Larson: It is.


Walker: It’s still in print. Some of the very first things I heard that tells the cocktail was like disputing-


Larson: Recipes.


Walker: - disputing information that was in this book. He tells the stories of what was told that the cocktail was invented in New Orleans. Not really the case, but he tells the whole like legend of it in there.


Larson: Cocktail scholars are still finding out stuff. They’re serious scholars.


Walker: They’re very serious scholars, and a bunch of them have great New Orleans ties, and of course they’ve all been coming to test the cocktail forever since it started, since day one.


Larson: There’s a lot of pressure on the bartender here, don’t you think? [laughs]


Walker: I do. I do, but I think they still manage beautifully.




Larson: Yes, they do. Then we love bar culture in New Orleans.


Walker: Yes.


Larson: Kerri McCaffety, I think, really wrote the book on that with Obituary Cocktail.


Walker: Oh my god. That is such a great book. It’s a coffee table cocktail book. Just to look at that book and how she documented all the bar interiors. It’s gorgeous.


Larson: And those inviting autographs. They make you want to go to those bars. Then there’s this wonderful book that I’m very fond of called Shaking Up, Prohibition in New Orleans: Authentic Vintage Cocktails from A to Z by Olive Leonhardt and Hilda Phelps Hammond. That’s an update of an old, old cocktail book, but it’s so beautiful.


Walker: It’s so beautiful. It’s like Obituary Cocktail. You just want to sit with it and look at it and admire it, that great art deco feel of all the illustrations.


Larson: You have brought along one of those treasured spiral bound little books that you use all the time.


Walker: I do. I do. When I have to make a New Orleans cocktail that I’m not already familiar with, that I don’t already know therecipe by heart, I look it up in this little book. It’s called History with a Twist - Lemon or Lime by Joe Gendusa. I met Joe back when Tales of the Cocktails started, because in its early days, it started as a cocktail tour that was run out of the Hotel Monteleone. Ann Tuennerman got together with Joe Gendusa and started the whole thing. Joe Gendusa wrote this little book and it came out in 2008. I got my copy at a book signing with him at 2009, and he told me great stories. He has all the explanation of what is a cocktail, all the different spirits, then he goes around to all the different restaurants, covers all their different-- their history and the history of the buildings, the history of the cocktails, the history of the bars. Then he adds more New Orleans favorites, and he's got a huge extensive bibliography in the back. It’s just a little book, but it's got everything in it that you need, and lots of great information.


Larson: That's saying something, I have to say. All right. What's your favorite New Orleans cocktail?


Walker: When I go out, if it's a fancy meal, I like to have Sazerac. If it's a New Orleans place, it's not a fancy place, I like to have an old-fashioned. I never drank one before I came to New Orleans. Sometimes I order beer.




Larson: Well, on that happy note, let's go get a drink.


Walker: Okay.



The Reading Life in 2010, Susan Larson was the book editor for The New Orleans Times-Picayune from 1988-2009. She has served on the boards of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and the New Orleans Public Library. She is the founder of the New Orleans chapter of the Women's National Book Association, which presents the annual Diana Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction.. In 2007, she received the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the literary community. She is also the author of The Booklover's Guide to New Orleans. If you run into her in a local bookstore or library, she'll be happy to suggest something you should read. She thinks New Orleans is the best literary town in the world, and she reads about a book a day.

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