Help me identify this 1930's liquor.
November 2, 2014 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to make a cocktail from a 1935 recipe book, and I can't for the life of me figure out what "cesoriac" is.

Googling it just brings me to the the same cocktail I'm trying to make.

Is it possible it was a typo for something I'm not thinking of? A now defunct brand name? Even if you could point me to resources other than Google to figure this out, it would be appreciated.
posted by Alexandra Michelle to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Because of the size of the serving / proportions, I would guess it's a liqueur, if that helps at all.

Do you have a specialty liquor store near you that you can pump for information?
posted by PlantGoddess at 7:51 AM on November 2, 2014

Based on the recipe it would have to be a pumpkin/pumpkin spice flavored liqueur of some sort.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:53 AM on November 2, 2014

Best answer: Sazerac..?
posted by kxr at 7:54 AM on November 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm convinced that it's referring to some brand of Rye Whiskey. That drink needs more than just vermouth and cherry juice to be a real cocktail, and rye whiskey is the ticket. Cesoriac sounds similar to Sazerac, the infamous New Orleans cocktail that uses rye whiskey (today there's even a rye whiskey named Sazerac, though I don't believe it existed in the 30's). Also, rye whiskey pairs with sweet vermouth and cherry.

It also sounds very similar to a Rob Roy Sweet. Just need the bitters.

This is my educated guess.
posted by nightrecordings at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

There is a New Orleans cocktail called the Sazerac, which was in turn named after a brand of brandy.
posted by cardboard at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2014

I wonder if it's an alternate spelling/foreign spelling of sazerac?
posted by magstheaxe at 7:56 AM on November 2, 2014

I'm thinking some kind of rye whiskey as well. This recipe adds limes and names the drink as Louis Paul's Pumpkin Coach Cocktail, which looks like a reference to this novel published in 1935. Maybe the book has more clues?
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:17 AM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you checked the index in the back, where all the drinks are organized by ingredient/category? I could only find it in the Vermouth section but I could've missed something.
posted by acidic at 8:25 AM on November 2, 2014

This is the original recipe, plus this description and I'm wondering if 'Cesoriac' is an OCR misread that others have copied verbatim. 'Liqueur' is clear enough, so I don't think it's rye, but your guess is as good as mine unless someone has access to copies of Esquire from 1935.

(The name is taken from Louis Paul's first novel.)
posted by holgate at 8:35 AM on November 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Esquire article actually is an extract from So Red The Nose, or, Breath In The Afternoon: Cocktail Recipes by 30 Leading Authors, from 1935.
posted by zamboni at 9:27 AM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Which I guess is the 1935 book that you're referring to in the question. Is it cesoriac in the original?
posted by zamboni at 9:31 AM on November 2, 2014

(I was referring to Paul's book, The Pumpkin Coach, but good spot on the collection.)
posted by holgate at 9:56 AM on November 2, 2014

(I was talking about the first sentence of the original post: I'm trying to make a cocktail from a 1935 recipe book)
posted by zamboni at 10:12 AM on November 2, 2014

Response by poster: Wow! Thanks for all the answers so far! Yes, So Red the Nose is the book I'm using, and it's spelled "cesoriac" in there. As far as I can tell I have a first (only?) edition of the book.
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 10:15 AM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're not the only one who has asked: Webtender forum. (Unfortunately, no replies.)

It sounds like it's basically a modified Manhattan. This page has a recipe for a Bulleit Manhattan, which is Bulleit bourbon, cherry juice, and sweet vermouth. Here's one with Wild Turkey.

Here's another appearance of your recipe included in a list of drinks named after famous people -- in this case novelist Louis Paul, who wrote a book called The Pumpkin Coach in 1935. So that's where it gets it's name, anyway.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:40 AM on November 2, 2014

Best answer: Since I now have enough caffeine in me to see you're working from the original, here's a lateral thought: Sambuca dei Cesari? That would be fairly, um, aggressive, but the description of the cocktail suggests that it's meant to be:
Louis Paul lifts a little glass slipper filled with his potent concoction to the opulent wench in the pumpkin coach. Privately and sub-rosa Mr. Paul confesses that he thinks the cocktail is an American abomination. He only offers this poisonous refreshment to his friends so that he can stand aside and watch their character and personality disintegrate before his analytical eye.
posted by holgate at 10:45 AM on November 2, 2014

Best answer: I'm away from my collection at the moment, but I have a few theories.

This probably does not have anything to do with pumpkin flavors, given the book reference and the scarcity of other drinks of this era using pumpkin as a flavor.

Given that even reliable sources like and the wonderful Martin's Index app do not have notes on this ingredient, and given the date of the recipe so soon after Prohibition, it's possible that this ingredient name is a subterfuge to hide an illegal ingredient (as the references to "Gordon water" instead of gin in 1932's Shake 'Em Up, iirc) or avoidance of use of a trademarked name.

The Sazerac Company did not buy the company making Herbsaint until 1949, I will note, so that's probably not what's being referenced.

Since it's supposed to be potent, my money is on a veiled reference to Sazerac whiskey. (Though I will say holgate's guess, above, of Sambuca dei Cesari is worth considering too.)

Hate to leave this floating as a guess, though, so I've put out a call to my booze nerd Twitter pals and will be back with more definitive information should it turn up.
posted by MetaGrrrl at 11:05 AM on November 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Considering it doesn't turn up in google books or any of the old news sources I've tried, I'm beginning to wonder if it was a joke on Louis Paul's part. Especially given the reference to his hatred of cocktails.

But maybe it was just a really obscure liquor.
posted by interplanetjanet at 12:39 PM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cocktail historian David Wondrich replies: "Alas I don't have access right now to the only place I can think to look, a big 1948 book of French drink exports. May not help."

If he didn't recognize it off the top of his head then it's an obscure spirit indeed.
posted by komara at 3:01 PM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

MetaGrrl is almost certainly right about the flavors--lots of cocktails from that era were named after their (relative) potency/lethality, so I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that 'Pumpkin Coach' refers to the vehicle you'll be poured into when the clock strikes midnight, rather than anything flavored like actual pumpkin.

I think people are right in linking sazerac to cesoriac, which would make bourbon or rye the leading candidates.
posted by yellowcandy at 5:33 PM on November 2, 2014

You know, I too am tempted to say "well cesoriac must be Sazerac" but I did some digging and found that Sazerac rye was reintroduced in 2006 "[a]fter a 116-year absence from the market". This means that the original Sazerac rye was not in production in the early 1900s and therefore it's a bit odd to see it listed in a recipe in the 1930s, some 40 years after it had last been in stock.
posted by komara at 9:46 PM on November 2, 2014

mudpuppie: This page has a recipe for a Bulleit Manhattan, which is Bulleit bourbon, cherry juice, and sweet vermouth.
That is an abomination before The Lord.

Manhattans have whiskey*, sweet vermouth, and bitters. No fucking cherry juice, and without the bitters, it's just a weirdly made whiskey cooler. Might as well use Cherry Flavored Kool-Aid(tm).

* Purists will want rye, but I hate rye, so bourbon or Canadian whiskey for me.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:23 AM on November 4, 2014

Best answer: You know, I too am tempted to say "well cesoriac must be Sazerac" but I did some digging and found that Sazerac rye was reintroduced in 2006 "[a]fter a 116-year absence from the market".

I'm not sure if the Sazerac Company actually marketed their own rye, back in the day, just premixed Sazerac cocktails. They did start marketing booze later, but I can't find evidence that it was under the Sazerac label- anyone know? (The original cognac that gave them their name was around: The original French Sazerac de Forge et fils cognac was bought in the 1870s, probably as a result of the phylloxera outbreak, and became Sazerac de Forge et Kotniski. Sazerac de Forge et Kotniski survived until 1965, when it was absorbed by the Societe Engrand.)

Possible other derivations of Cesoriac:

Gesoriac is the Roman name for what became Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Cesarica is Slovenian for empress.
posted by zamboni at 1:34 PM on November 4, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the really informative answers! I really thought this question was a long shot when I posted it, but you guys are way more knowledgeable about booze than I realized. I'm excited about all the awesome drink resources.

I'm going to go ahead and try it with sazerac and with Sambuca de Cesari. I've also ordered the Pumpkin Coach novel and I'll see if it offers any clues. Louis Paul's birth name was Leroi Placet which might be-- French? Cajun? It's hard to find any biographical details about him, but that would seem to support the sazerac theory.

interplanetjanet, there are one or two other joke cocktails in the book, so it's a possibility. But if it's a joke, I guess I don't get it? Like the other joke cocktail lists: "nitroglycerin, gunpowder, gasoline, and a lighted match." It seems like cesoriac would still have to be something, even if it's not alcohol.

Thanks again everyone!
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 6:52 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

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