Women, cocktail history and writing

I like where this is going.

@RobertSimonson on Nicola Nice:

Nicola Nice’s elegant bibliography of drinking books written by women:

(We have copies of almost all of these in the Library, but unsurprisingly, they’ve gone under-appreciated, to-date.)

Nicola Nice on Bertha Stockbridge:

Nicola Nice on Mary Sherwood:


Thanks for posting this, Martin. One interesting side note I left out of the article–Dr. Nice proposed a seminar on this very subject to Tales of the Cocktail twice, and was rejected, twice. The cocktail community has a long way to go in many ways.


If we can push it forward a little bit, here, let us do so.

As far as the books go, I’m crippled until I can get the Library set back up in its new location. I suspect the books have been largely overlooked because they are not necessarily a source of interesting recipes—treasure hunters of that sort just flipped through them and moved on. But they clearly factor into what became the popular press for sophisticated living: Gourmet Magazine, etc. I generally hold out Toye & Adair’s Drinks Long and Short as the first foodie cocktail book, both in content and marketing.

For the larger topic, it seems there’s quite a bit to organize: what women were and were not permitted to do, their roles at different economic strata, the nature of entertaining at different economic strata (including the ruinously competitive high society balls in places like New York City), differences with Europe, changes with Prohibition, suffrage, etc. I imagine there’s already some good scholarship to supply the bulk of it?


Respectfully, I think the domestic/hostess genre can be a source of interesting recipes as the famous barman books are (or not). Plenty of boring drinks in both, plenty of rehashes. But that’s not the point. Rather than perpetuate the problem by treating these books as “women history,” this genre should be recognized for the cultural gold it contains. Domestic history, material culture, would be interesting to anyone interested in drinks I would think. I’ve recently been working on cocktail party history – food, drink, entertainment – and yes the folks that wrote about that tended to be white women in America. Just as the bar books of a generation before tended to be written by white men in America. But those aren’t filed under “men’s literature.”


Important podcast here, with @Splificator and Noah Rothbaum chatting with Dr. Nicola Nice and Lizzy Young, includes discussion of the domestic/hostess genre:

1 Like

Dr. Nice has a number of these books scanned and on her company’s website, as you’ve linked above. It’s a great resource. Another interesting area to look at is ancient Roman writers. Not women generally (as far as I know) but an overlooked area. I believe @Splificator knows a lot of that literature.

1 Like

Going back even further, the OSC entry on Milk Punch (p. 466–7) intriguingly invokes both Aphra Behn and Mary Rockett.

1 Like