Somewhere in here is a story about connections. There's also a story about an unexpected cocktail with an odd name, Fair and Warmer, that saw a moment in the limelight just about the time of a popular play of the same name.
It's not unusual for movies or plays, especially those of note, to have a cocktail named after them, or their characters, or associated similarly in some way. Blood and Sand is one example among many, as are the many cocktails named for movie stars. Sometimes it goes the other way. Tequila Sunrise is a move named after a drink, and one could argue that The Big Lebowski could work just as well if it were named The White Russian.
The Fair and Warmer cocktail might be one of these, but the history is murky. What we do know is that the original recipe comes from one Harry Craddock, a subject of the crown living and working in New York before prohibition. His pre-Prohibition resume includes bartending at both the Knickerbocker Club, and the Hoffman House. In 1920 he returned to the UK, and began his most famous gig at London's Savoy Hotel serving fancy American drinks to Europe's leisure classes, but it's his time in New York that's of interest to the story of the Fair and Warmer.
Although hailing from the UK, Craddock became an American citizen and avoided most of the First World War until serving with US forces in 1918. Before and after his service he worked at several hotels and establishments of note, and being a young publicity hound employed among the New York night life, he would have had access to Broadway and various forms of entertainment such as a farce called Fair and Warmer.
Fair and Warmer was the hit play of 1915, a three act story about 2 friends, Laura and Jack, who like late nights and parties, and their respective spouses who don't. The dull spouses find themselves together and mix a cocktail beyond their sensibilities, subsequently passing out after drinking it. Laura and Jack, knowing nothing of the short night and long snooze, assume they are having an affair and mayhem ensues. Eventually, the maid sets the irate spouses straight because in the movies and on stage maids don't clean, they get actively involved in their employers. Fair and Warmer ran for 377 performances, and, in 1919 was made into a movie which also was a hit, because plays and movies about drinking and spouse swapping always are.
In 1930, Craddock published his cocktail book, the renowned and famous Savoy Cocktail Book, full of minuscule portions of strange ingredients, and recipes for drinks we recognize by name, but would hardly know from the notes. The virtue of Craddock's book is as historical document for he famously collected classic recipes, those from the 1800s, invented new ones, and kept copious notes. There's no record known to us of the Fair and Warmer before Craddock's book, and it's a hard find in any of the contemporary or subsequent bar books. Is the Fair and Warmer a Craddock original? It's hard to tell. At the time, it wasn't common for an author to claim or give credit for a particular drink, they just were, and if you made a new one, then it just was. Credit and celebrity is a modern thing, and often fraught with assumptions when supporting historical records with definitive evidence goes unfound. Such is the case of the Fair and Warmer. There's no identifiable empirical data to say that Craddock created this drink for, or named it after, the play or the movie, but circumstantial evidence does support the argument that the names are one and the same. Craddock was employed, young and loose in New York at the time of the hit play, had the means and ability to create a drink named after it, the publicity skill to promote it, the foresight to write it down, and, later, the gumption to publish it. As far as cocktail histories goes, it's a great story, just like most of them.
So what is it? Another interesting recipe, the Fair and Warmer is rum, vermouth, and curacao. Not exactly the kind of cocktail you think of first when you think of rum, but it works. Craddock does specify Bacardi Rum, which was made in Cuba at the time, and although not the same as modern Bacardi, it was, and is still a light rum. What is a light rum? Just that. It's a bit self defeating trying to classify, or understand any of the non-standard ways of describing rum (there are no standard ways like there are for whiskey or gin) but what the Fair and Warmer wants is something clear, not to funky and not too assertive. Delicate rum is in order, and you totally could use Bacardi, but we recommend Below Deck Silver Rum from Eastside Distilling. Make no mistake, Bacardi is a very good rum, we love it, and it's the top selling spirit in the world for a reason, but we love local rum more, and, when compared to Bacardi, Below Deck Silver is just more interesting with the small batch all natural craft vibe. It's not likely Bacardi is either all natural, or small in scale, but you use what you got, or, if you're into historical accuracy, it's all you got.
In the usual way of old cocktail recipes, the portions of each ingredient seem almost random. The bartenders of the time did indeed know what they were doing, but were working with spirits of the day for both good and bad. Bacardi would have been one of the more respectable choices, but given available ingredients and popular taste of the times, it would make sense that the ratios might not work for modern drinkers and modern spirits. No worries. We simply roll with it, use standard measures and mix a drink. Is it a theater cocktail? Who knows, but it could be, and, as far as cocktail naming goes, you could do worse than name it after a hit play or movie. At least you'd get a loyal fanbase for a moment, as did the Fair and Warmer. Or so one assumes.
Stir and serve up. Garnish with an orange twist.
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