Are The Titillating Stimulators Before Dinner & The Vari-Colored Liqueur After, Desirable Aids To Feminine Sociability?
Do our women drink cocktails and liqueurs? The answer to this query comes readily enough after a glance around the fashionable restaurants.
A great many do. But has the drinking of Martinis and creme de menthe, the little alcoholic elegancies of dining, become so general among the feminine members of society as to be set down as a habit?
This is more difficult to say, for the one glass taken now and then cannot be termed a habit, and yet does any one, even a lovely woman, stop there?
One thing is true, and that is that the cocktail appears oftener than the uninitiated know. It comes to the table of some of our most fashionable restaurants in its modest disguise of blue and white or gold china, instead of clear crystal, and only those who have been introduced to the “Martini demitasse” recognize the drink, which, in this novel way of serving, looks as harmless as tea or bouillon.
The excessive use of wine and liqueur is too revolting to be thought of in connection with women. It would be doing them a great injustice to hint such a thing.
On the other hand, it is generally agreed that the insidious cocktail and the deadly cordial are sipped by many fair lips, but whether or not they are taken in a proportion to warrant their being styled a habit can only be learned by careful investigation.
This has been done by securing opinions from persons prominent in the various social, club and business circles of the city.
“High Balls” Will Never Be Permitted At The Woman’s Club
When the subject was presented to Mrs. James L. Blair, president of the Woman’s Club, Mrs. Blair said:
“I am glad to say that I believe St. Louis is freer from habits of intemperance, both in drinking and smoking, so far as women are concerned than any city I know of. The tendency here is, I believe, exactly in the opposite direction, I think it is an example we can proudly hold up to women in other cities, who may indulge in these things.
“I am glad to have this opportunity to say that so far as the Woman’s Club is concerned nothing of the kind will be tolerated, or has it ever been dreamed of.
“A very uncalled for article appeared in a St. Louis paper some time ago about what you call ‘high balls,’ that were to be served at the Woman’s Club. Let me state positively, and absolutely, that nothing of the kind will ever be permitted there, or will there ever be any suggestion of such a thing.”
Ladies Do Not Drink, Nor Do They Smoke In Circles
Mrs. Ashley D. Scott of No. 3516 Morgan street said: “Ladies do not drink, nor do they smoke in circles that I have ever moved in, in St. Louis. It may prevail in homes that I do not know of, but I am sure that the rule is quite different. I certainly would not like to revisit a home where cocktails or liquors of any kind were served to ladies, or where the hostess would permit such customs.
“I should no more think of going to an entertainment where such things were permitted than I would go to the house where they permitted bridge whist to be played for money.”
Said Charles R. Platt of No. 3639 Pine boulevard: “At dinner parties where gentleman and ladies dine together cocktails are often served. The ladies may drink them or refuse them. Generally they sip them. The men always do.
“Of course, a host generally knows his guests.
“If he thought it were going to hurt any one’s feelings he would not offer cocktails, but it is such a usual thing now that no one is offended when cocktails are served, and the ladies, as I say, take them or refuse them as they desire.”
Perhaps Occasionally Cocktails May Be Served To Ladies
H. S. Potter of No. 5814 Cabanne place said: “Oh, perhaps occasionally cocktails may be served for dinners where gentlemen and ladies are dining together, but I should say that it was a rule honored more in the breach than in the observance.
“I think I have seen it done; that is, the cocktails were offered, but ladies usually declined. It is certainly not customary for ladies to drink cocktails.”
Older Ladies, You Know, Matrons, May Be Served Cocktails And Cordials
A St. Louis club manager expressed his views as follows:
“Why, yes: at any companionable dinner here cocktails and liquors are served to gentlemen and ladies alike. No self-respecting chef at any club in St. Louis would think of serving dinner without cocktails, any more than he would without napkins.
“There is this difference: At the St. Louis and most other clubs where they have ladies to dine, the gentlemen’s cocktails are somewhat heavier than those served to the ladies.
“For after dinner liqueurs the ladies usually confine themselves to creme de menthe, kimmel, or grand marnier, a liqueurs served, I think, only at the St. Louis Club, though it s well known in the East, and abroad. Marisette is another liqueur which the ladies sometimes drink. It is a new cordial made from cherries, and the first I think ever made from that fruit.
“You must bear this in mind, however, where there are only very young ladies present, gentlemen are content to take their cocktails in the room below by themselves, but where there are older ladies, I do not mean too old, you know, matrons I mean, why they always serve cocktails and cordials to men and women alike.”
Star Of “Drink” Discusses Evil
Apropos of the subject of drinking is the temperance play now being produced in the United States, and it is but natural to infer that the English star, Charles Warner, who has played in “Drink“ over 3,000 times and has received as many letters from all classes on the subject, should have given it more serious thought than most men, in all its various phases, from feminine tippling to degrading excess.
“The cocktail habit has grown vastly among men.” says Mr. Warner.
“Formerly ladies would not think of going into a restaurant and ordering liquor, but now it is a common thing for them, too, to do, and my opinion is that the liking for it started from their desire to be companionable to men.
“Liquors, too, which are just as bad as cocktails, are always seen at dinner, and they are almost as strong a habit with one sex as with the other.”
And just a few decades later, cocktails for the home bar for men and women in St. Louis and elsewhere were popular and socially acceptable (see author’s quote remembering how his parents took turns hosting cocktail hours in each others homes while growing up in St. Louis).
Source: The St. Louis Republic. (St. Louis, Mo.) 1888-1919, October 04, 1903, Magazine Section, Image 57 - Chronicling America (The Library of Congress)