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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

New book explores Black cocktail history


Gin and juice. Many people know of gin and juice because of Snoop Dogg’s hit from his debut album in 1993 — Toni Tipton-Martin’s recipe has extra depth from the use of vermouth and bitters. Food styled by Simon Andrews.

By Claire Moses


While many in the world of cocktails are familiar with Tom Bullock, renowned for his juleps and long considered the first African American bartender to publish a cocktail manual, fewer know the work of Atholene Peyton, a home economics teacher whose 1906 “Peytonia Cook Book” predated Bullock’s by a decade.


Peyton’s story is just one told in Toni Tipton-Martin’s new book, “Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs and Juice: Cocktails From Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks,” a chronicle of the ways Black people contributed to American cocktail culture.


“This is really a work of investigative journalism. It’s not just a book of cocktails,” said Tipton-Martin, a James Beard award-winning author of several cookbooks and the editor of Cook’s Country magazine, who pored through centuries’ worth of published recipes for her new work.


The book is a continuation of her 2015 book, “The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks,” which credited Black women for much of the country’s culinary history, and her 2019 follow-up, “Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African American Cooking.”


“What Toni has done here is essentially create a mixologist’s parallel to what she did in ‘Jubilee,’” said Jessica B. Harris, the author of “High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey From Africa to America,” which has been adapted as a Netflix series. “The two books become a diptych of the food of African Americans, as revealed through their cookbooks.”


Tipton-Martin owns a vast collection of old cookbooks by Black authors from as early as 1827, and has used that foundation to propel the research and historical context her books are famous for.


For her new book, she relied on cookbooks published by early Black bartenders like Bullock in 1917 and Julian Anderson in 1919. But she also uncovered the contributions of Peyton, a teacher born in Louisville, Kentucky, whose “Peytonia Cook Book” included a chapter on drinks, with recipes for juleps, gin fizzes, eggnog, a whiskey sour and a manhattan. (Tipton-Martin discusses Peyton’s Champagne punch in her new book.)


“I can hear the voice of the cook or bar master claiming their intellectual property,” Tipton-Martin said.


“Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs and Juice” is organized chronologically by craft, which gave Tipton-Martin the space to write about “all of that Black drink history.” She starts with teaching readers how to brew beer and ferment wine. Enslaved and free Black women made those drinks and built beverage enterprises during the antebellum era. Punchbowl drinks tell the stories of Black caterers and food entrepreneurs.


Other chapters are dedicated to the Black bartenders who made layered drinks at taverns in the late 18th century. She ends the book with a section on how some Black people today refer to liquor as a form of empowerment, especially in rap lyrics. Beverages like gin and juice — which Snoop Dogg immortalized in song in the 1990s — have deep roots. Similar concoctions appeared in the 1930s in books like “Burke’s Complete Cocktail and Drinking Recipes,” published in 1934. The drink’s origins begin in Africa, Tipton-Martin said, where people macerated oranges and allowed them to ferment.


The book goes far beyond cocktails in exploring African American history. Places like juke joints, strategically located near agricultural communities, served as sites where African Americans could escape the daily indignities of segregation. But their clientele were often stereotyped as lazy gamblers, unlike white Americans, whose drinking was portrayed more favorably. This double standard led to a notable absence of writing about drinks by African American authors from the mid-20th century until the 1970s, Tipton-Martin said.


“It was surprising and fascinating to me to learn that as part of my ancestors’ desire to be respected, appreciated and valued by the larger society, they just stopped discussing alcohol consumption,” Tipton-Martin said, likening those stereotypes to the way Black female cooks were mocked with the mammy character.


She dug just as deep for her recipe research, combining elements from various books and testing the adapted recipes before completing them for publication. She explains how people served these drinks decades ago, which offers readers ideas for customizing the recipes.


Tipton-Martin came to her work with little cocktail experience, so she relied on two consultants: her son Brandon Tipton, a formally trained bartender, and Tiffanie Barriere, a master mixologist and educator in Atlanta. Barriere said she taught Tipton-Martin essentials such as knowing how long to shake a drink. She also offered some modern alternatives to older methods like shaping ice with a pick and mallet (use pebbled ice cubes or an ice mold instead).


“The beverage community has been waiting for a book like this,” Barriere said, adding that Black people have long known that their ancestors made an impact on cocktails. “It’s just another ‘aha’ moment.”



—RECIPE:


Gin and juice

Recipe from Toni Tipton-Martin

Adapted by Christina Morales


Toni Tipton-Martin spent three years writing her latest cookbook, “Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs and Juice: Cocktails From Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks” (Clarkson Potter, 2023), which gives Black people credit for their contributions to the American cocktail canon. But through her research, she found that Black people were disparaged for their drinking, which led to a large gap in published recipes. Alcoholic beverages like gin and juice were referenced in rap lyrics, namely Snoop Dogg’s hit from his debut album. Though gin and juice needs only two ingredients, this one gains extra depth from the use of vermouth and bitters. Similar combinations of gin, orange juice, vermouth and bitters were traced back to several cookbooks, including some that were published more than a century ago.


Yield: 1 drink

Total time: 10 minutes



Ingredients:


Ice cubes

1 1/2 ounces gin (preferably Tanqueray)

1 ounce fresh orange juice

1/4 ounce sweet (red) vermouth

1/4 ounce dry (white) vermouth

1/4 ounce Cointreau (optional)

2 dashes Angostura or blood orange

bitters

1 mandarin, tangerine or orange wheel



Preparation:


1. Fill a cocktail mixer halfway with ice

and add all liquids. Stir for 20 seconds,

until cold.

2. Rub the rim of a rocks glass or lowball with the citrus wheel. Strain the cocktail into the glass, garnish with the citrus wheel and serve right away.



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2 Comments


robadamsofficial
Feb 24

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Carol Lawrence
Carol Lawrence
Jan 24

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