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Boothby Cocktail
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A toast to our spirited history 

By 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.

The 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 pre-Volstead days."

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


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This site was last updated 12/14/07