Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff

I’LL HAVE A PINK LADY, AND A COCKTAIL TOO

FORGIVE THE old one-liner, but it popped into my mind when, rummaging in the desk for something else entirely, I came upon this handy artifact of my misspent youth. Indeed, judging from the vintage aircraft pictured on the gizmo, I suspect this handy artifact was part of an earlier misspent youth as well.

The gizmo, pure and simple, is a cocktail guide. A printed disc is sandwiched between two copper ones, each with an open sector displaying a different cocktail recipe upon rotation.

Twenty classic cocktails are listed: Alexander, Apple Blossom, Bacardi, Blue Point, Bronx, Clover Club, Daquri (we’d say “Daiquiri”), Dry Martini, Gin Rickey, and Jockey Club on one side; Jack Rose, Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Orange Blossom, Palm Beach, Saratoga, Side Car, Tom Collins, Whiskey Sour, and Woodstock on the flip side.

The gizmo is embossed with an image identified as the Sky Ride, two towers strung with cables over an expanse of water. Soaring above in the clouds is what appears to be a Ford Tri-motor, which helps identify the age of the gizmo. Tri-motors were the workhorses of commercial aviation from 1927 through 1933.

Indeed, this and the name Sky Ride pin down the gizmo completely. The Sky Ride was an attraction built for the Chicago’s Century of Progress 1933 World’s Fair.

Chicago World’s Fair poster. Below, a map for A Century of Progress.


By the way, for aviation enthusiasts this particular fair and its site have dual resonance: Italian Italo Balbo and his fleet of 24 Savoia-Marchetti SM.55X flying boats arrived at the fair on July 15, 1933. And, years later, its Lake Michigan site evolved into Chicago Meigs Field, renowned among Microsoft Flight Simulator people as their “home field.” Its actual counterpart was destroyed in the dead of night by Chicago’s despotic Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2002. A tale for another day.

The fair’s Sky Ride was what’s known in the trade as a transporter bridge or aerial tramway. Each of its two towers was 628 ft. in height, separated by an 1850-ft. span over the fair’s lagoon (which is now Chicago’s Burnham Harbor).

A panorama of A Century of Progress. The Sky Ride towers are on the left.

Each tower was “higher than any building in Chicago,” according to the Official Guide Book of the Fair. “Six hundred and twenty-eight feet they rise into the skies,” the guide reads, “with observation floors atop them. On the 200-foot level, the rocket cars offer you a beautiful and, mayhap, thrilling ride across the lagoon.”

The 628-ft. observation deck and 200-ft. landing can be seen on the Sky Ride’s inland tower. One of the rocket cars is en route (above the word “HALL”).

There were 12 double-deck rocket cars, each one emitting steam as it traveled the wires suspended between the towers. At night, the rocket cars were illuminated from the ground.

It was reported that the Sky Ride attracted 2,616,389 riders in 1933 and more than 4.5 million during the fair’s two-year run. No doubt souvenirs were part of the fun, and this is where my Sky Ride cocktail guide found its first owner.

Several of its cocktails are new to me, the Woodstock, for example: 2/3 Apple Jack, 1/3 Dry Vermouth, Bitters, and Syrup. The Palm Beach is 2/3 Dry Gin, 1/6 Grapefruit Juice, and 1/6 Italian Vermouth.

As an old math teacher, I’m pleased to see they got their fractions right: 1/6 + 1/6 = 2/6 = 1/3. Also, note that this was long before people worried about cholesterol, but be aware that grapefruit might react adversely with Lipitor.

My cocktail of choice, a Dry Martini, is classically represented: 2/3 Dry Gin, 1/3 Dry Vermouth, 1 Stuffed Olive, and Angostura. Today’s taste is more akin to whispering the word “Vermouth” while passing its cap over the cocktail shaker.

Straight up with a twist, made with Bombay Sapphire, please. And, yes, I know about its recall. I’ll take my chances. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017

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