Jon Bonné, Chronicle Wine Editor
With all the attention for the pre-Prohibition mixological wonder Jerry
Thomas (subject of Dave Wondrich's "Imbibe"), another San Francisco
bartending legend is getting notice.
California Historical Society's holiday lecture-cum-party this week
featured the Boothby cocktail, an invention of William T. "Cocktail
Bill" Boothby, a onetime minstrel performer and saloon owner whose fame
behind the slab reached its peak in San Francisco, where he briefly
served as an assemblyman. In 1910, he devised his masterpiece at the
Palace Hotel - essentially a Manhattan with a Champagne float. And at
the time of his death in 1930, deep into Prohibition, The Chronicle
called Boothby "probably the best-known bartender in San Francisco in
His was one of three drinks chosen by cocktail
historian and teacher John Burton to highlight the city's spirited
history. (The other two were the Pisco Punch and the martini, whose
lineage is also claimed by New York.) With the society considering more
such events for members (memberships $60 and up,
don't be surprised if tippling types take a sudden interest in history.
Meantime, consider the Boothby a little holiday gift from the past.
This article appeared on page F - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle,
Friday, December 14, 2007