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Soda

From Soda Fountain to Bar

The soda train keeps on rolling and this time it stopped in Antwerp for the 2013 edition of the Belgian Bar Show. The show is a fun 2 day event with presentations spread through out each day. I was the opening act for Ian Rum-Ambassador Burrell, on Tuesday. Below you will find a slightly modified edition of my presentation. So […]

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The Hangover

Tis the time of year for hangovers. This also means it is time for my annual message about the myth of caffeine and hangovers. If you drink coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages your body has already adapted to the very mild diuretic effect of caffeine. In fact, scientific studies show caffeine does not have any diuretic effect at less […]

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Patent Medicine, The Endless Search

One of the historical blights on the soda fountain was the cure all patent medicines that were hocked for every know illness. Some were marketed as health supplements, while others were cures for specific ailments. The one common thread they all shared was their spurious health claims. This didn’t go unnoticed and many publications from the period made barbed statements […]

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Old Bitter Labels

Bitters are big business in the cocktail world and historically a cocktail wasn’t a cocktail without bitters, so it only makes sense. We often associate bitters with bars because of the cocktail, but the reality is that bitters were most likely sourced from the local pharmacy prior to prohibition. Even when bartenders were making their own bitters, they probably sourced […]

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Bourbon Ads

Digging through old photo archives can lead you to some interesting discoveries. In this case I found a couple of interesting bourbon ads. The first is a trading card, printed for Big Spring whiskey, sometime between 1880 and 1920. What makes it interesting is that the subject is a naked woman. The second is for “Belle of Nelson Old fashion […]

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Between Two Evils

Temper has a number of meanings, but they all stem from Latin which is “to moderate”. The Temperance movement took the term and used the more extreme definition of “to control”. Then there is “intemperance” which means “without moderation” and has strong associations with alcohol consumption and alcoholism. Extreme views are common place amongst many people, but I try to […]

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Temperance Images from the 1800s

The temperance movement most likely started shortly after alcohol was first consumed. Chronic alcohol consumption is a bad thing, and during the 1800s it was out of control in many places. To paraphrase Newton’s third law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Where there was a drinking problem, the Temperance Leagues intervened. Unlike the […]

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Historical Drinking & Driving Ads

We often see drinking and driving as recent problem (last 30 years or so) however the deadly combination of alcohol and motor vehicles has been know for over a century. When cars became common place, it didn’t take a genius to realize that driving while intoxicated resulted in serious consequences. One of the earliest observations came from Puck magazine in […]

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Detroit Soda Fountain

This photo is a great example of what a classic soda fountain/pharmacy looked like around 1910. The picture was taken by the Detroit Publishing Company around 1910, but no information was provided on where it was taken, though it assumed to be in Detroit. Sandy Levine of The Oakland bar in Detroit suggested that it looks similar to the space […]

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Age of Drugs

If you’ve read Fix the Pumps, you may have noticed that one of the reoccuring themes was the competition between saloons and pharmacies (bartenders and druggists) to hook the people on their tonics. Until 1906, when the Pure Food and Drugs Act was introduced, the local pharmacy/soda fountain had no restrictions on what they could serve and the taxes were […]

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Cognac Oil

The world of alcohol is fraught with risks and great bartenders know how to manage them. One method is to insert a low or non-alcoholic drink into the mix. Unfortunately, most non-alcoholic drinks suck, though things are getting better. One area that offers a lot of potential is essential oils and soda fountain techniques. The actual “Holy Grail” would be […]

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French Press Coffee

When it comes to drinks, a good cup of coffee is probably at the top of the list for many people, mine included. Like cocktails, there are decent cups of coffee, bad coffee and great coffee. A decent cup of coffee would be from a coffee shop chain like Tim Horton’s or Starbucks (suspect coffee quality with me). A bad […]