Marco’s “The How and When”, unsung

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After Prohibition, Marco’s, a business apparently owned by Abe Marco and (presumably son) Gerald F. Marco (died 2007 at age 93), operated a couple liquor retail stores in downtown Chicago. They possibly ran a parallel wine and spirits import firm.

In 1937, Marco’s published the first in a series of lavish, hardbound books for their customers, containing articles about wine and spirits, ads, and an extensive collection of cocktail recipes. The covers of these books were often personalized for the customer.

Four editions were struck—1937, 1940, 1945 and 1949—and many copies of these books are still floating around. You can check out a PDF of the first edition here.

These books, credited to Hyman Gale and Gerald F. Marco, are remarkably good, and probably the only liquor store books that border on canon.


One interesting addition to the second edition (1940), is a section of Tropical Specialties:

Examination of these recipes reveals that all—save the first recipe or two—are reproduced verbatim from RonRico marketing materials. Of these recipes, at least two might cause a double-take: the Diablo and the Hurricane Punch. We know these recipes appear in various RonRico pamphlets (including these booklets), but dating RonRico materials has been problematic, whereas with Marco’s How and When, we have a year: 1940.

Upshot:

  • The Hurricane was probably invented by some unsung mixologist—possibly at RonRico—and then adopted by Pat O’Brien
  • Before Trader Vic’s tequila El Diablo, there was the RonRico rum Diablo
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