Martini, Straight up: The Classic American Cocktail

Martini, Straight up: The Classic American Cocktail

by Lowell Edmunds, Johns Hopkins University Press, Lowell Silver Edmunds
     
 

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From its contested origins in nineteenth-century California; through its popularity among the smart set of the 1930s, world leaders of the 1940s, and the men in the gray flannel suits of the 1950s; to its resurgence among today's retro-hipsters: Lowell Edmunds traces the history and cultural significance of the cocktail H. L. Mencken called "the only American

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Overview

From its contested origins in nineteenth-century California; through its popularity among the smart set of the 1930s, world leaders of the 1940s, and the men in the gray flannel suits of the 1950s; to its resurgence among today's retro-hipsters: Lowell Edmunds traces the history and cultural significance of the cocktail H. L. Mencken called "the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet."

Editorial Reviews

Lori D. Kranz
Edmunds treats us to a cultural history of the martini, from its origins in the Gilded Age to its 1990s symbolism. . . The drink may be dry, but this book is anything but.
Bloomsbury Review
Booknews
Edmunds (classics, Rutgers.) traces the drink from its American origins in the 19th century to the present, with literary and dramatic works, newspapers, magazine, cartoons, bartenders' manuals, distillery brochures, and other documents of popular culture. Revised from (1981). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
Kirkus Reviews
Few drinks achieve such complex and ambiguous symbolism as the martini, and likely few writers could decode it as well as the polished Edmunds (Classics/Rutgers Univ.). Consider the martini a true American icon, says Edmunds (its status as an institution waxes and wanes), but a fungible one with so many associations that drinkers can grab whichever one they like and run with it. For many, the drink radiates what Edmunds calls "seven simple messages": it is American, urban and urbane, of high status, a man's drink, optimistic, adult, and a drink of the past, timelessly of the past. Almost all of the signifiers can now be labeled as nonce wasn (once, it was the drink of diplomats, the sophisticate, the denizens of the smoking room), for Edmunds serves up a welter of deflationary material, toppling the martini from its elite roost. He draws positive and negative imagery enough from literature (Dorothy Parker to Jack London), film (Buñuel to Lang to The Lost Weekend), New Yorker cartoons, Cole Porter lyrics, W.H. Auden haiku, Jimmy Carter (who poked his finger in the eye of the three-martini lunch), to diagnose the martini with a severe but endearing multiple-personality disorder. Once he has covered the social history of the cocktail, he delves into its origins and its various configurations (martini rituals that are surely as codified as the tea ceremony), and there is a chapter on the classic martini glassnthe stemmed, V-shaped vessel with its own iconic powernthat is as elegant as the glass itself. Though itns clear from the book that Edmunds is a martini fancier, he is not a martini bully: He likes his martini straight up, but he also admits to many classically correctvariations.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801859717
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
11/23/1998
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
153
Product dimensions:
5.69(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.72(d)

What People are saying about this

Hugh Brogan
Strongly intoxicating, which perhaps explains why I broke the rule of 14 years and mixed myself a Martini while reading it. I felt much better for the drink, and almost anyone who tries it will feel much better for reading the book.

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