Friday, August 1, 2008

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Banana Shrub

I spend too much money on books. There. I'll admit it. Though as my culinary library grows, I'm buying fewer and fewer titles—it's just that those I do buy are older, more rare, and in better condition that I might once have considered.


Every once in a while, though, I come across a book I haven't seen or even heard of before and the impish little glutton in me springs out. So it was with M.E. Steedman's Home-Made Beverages and American Drinks.

I hadn't heard of Steedman, so that caught my eye. The book itself is battered, the pages frayed. If there were dozens of these floating around the net, I would have waited until a better quality copy surfaced. But this is the only copy I've seen.

Greg Boehm shed some light on the author while we chatted in New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail. Turns out that Steedman also penned Home-Made Summer and Winter Drinks; Cups, Liqueurs, Cocktails and Invalid Drinks. Greg had a nice scan on his laptop. They seem to be different books, but I'd still like to do a side-by-side comparison to see if my copy may be an earlier edition from a different publisher. Fortunately, online book merchants seem to have many copies.

Since shrubs seems to enjoying a renaissance among some cocktail folk, here's Steedman's recipe for

Banana Shrub

Put a quart of peeled and thinly sliced bananas into a jar, add the thinly pared rind and strained juice of a lemon, 3 pints of good old Jamaica rum, and 10 oz. of pure cane sugar. Cover the jar closely and infuse for 2 months, shaking it daily, then filter, and store in airtight bottles.

~ Home-Made Beverages and American Drinks
M. E. Steedman (nd) The Food and Cookery Publishing Agency, London.

Goes well with:
  • Mud Puddle Books, Boehm's imprint selling fantastic facsimile editions of early cocktail books. In general, I avoid facsimile editions because I enjoy the heft of the actual old texts in my hands. But Greg has so faithfully reproduced the books—from the fonts, to the paper, cover, ink, and size—that, except that they are clearly brand-new, you'd think you were holding bartender guides older than Barbara Walters.


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