Sunday, July 11, 2010

Esquire's Handbook for Hosts


While out antiquing this weekend, I ran across this delightful book. I paid $8.75 for it and it was a deal at twice the price.

My edition was published in 1949 and features Esky, Esquire magazine's dapper mascot. The book was intended to be a guide for gentlemen who entertain. There are sections titled "canapes", "midnight snacks", "eggs", "rum drinks", "is there a drunk in the house", "card games" and (my favorite) "365 excuses for a party."

I've been reading it all weekend. Here are a few nuggets:

"Oysters and Mushrooms" from Canapes:
"Take a fresh oyster and place in a large mushroom that has been peeled. Dip in olive oil or butter, sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and a dash of celery salt, then place under a hot grill. Serve on half shell or a piece of thin toast."

"Cold Toddy" from Cocktails:
"In the bottom of an Old-fashioned glass, crush:
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 strip lemon peel, about 1" long
1 teaspoon water
Add 1 or 2 cubes ice. Pour in 1 1/2-2 oz your favorite whisky, give it a quick stir, and there you are. You may add a bit of water or seltzer if you want to last longer."

On "Games, the life-savers of the party":
"But there comes a time in every host's life when conversation is better replaced by GAMES. When your guests know each other so well that they've nothing new to say to each other... when your guests are such complete strangers that they seem in dire need of an organized ice breaker... when your guests, friends or strangers, are of such divergent views and interests that a normal conversation may result in hopeless argument or boredom, propose a game."

and

On the surprise guest:
"Liquor is quicker, but plain old-fashioned hospitality also sets your guests at ease and assures their enjoyment of an evening in your home. Hospitality seems to be composed of two parts sincerity and one part preparedness. In the home of the congenitally good host, one is ever unexpected. An Emergency Shelf in your pantry should always be equipped to provide a little something for drop-in callers to much on. The bar is always ready with something to sip. But, most important of all, the host is always ready to pretend he is delighted to have the company of his guests."

Good advice, even today.

Finally, today's excuse for a party? Well, it's July 11, birthday of John Quincy Adams! I'll have to get out my cocktail shaker and invite some people over!






1 comment:

Pigtown-Design said...

I adore these old entertaining books! I was just given two of them by a french woman. classic advice!