CityDig: These 31 Far-Flung Liquors Kept Depression-Era Angelenos Tipsy

The Hotel Clark’s post-prohibition ”Drinks of the World” map charts everything from corn whiskey to fermented camel’s milk
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“Drinks of the World,” P.G.S. Morris, Cartographer Ned Wheldon, 1935

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Though maps generally prove most useful to travelers, city planners, statisticians, historians, and the like, this particular pictorial answers the hopeful cry, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?” The map was produced in 1935 for the manager (P.G.S. Morris) of the freshly opened Tavern at the Hotel Clark at 5th and Hill, across from the Subway Terminal Building in downtown L.A. It was a place “where you can relax amid a pleasing old English atmosphere with absolute privacy…Here you will find old beverages as well as new.” The Tavern’s custom map of the world is peppered with the names of unique libations from around the globe, and it provides recipes to warm the blood of Angelenos here at home.

On December 5, 1933, the “noble experiment” of Prohibition ended after 13 disastrously dry years, and watering holes like the Tavern at the Clark re-emerged all over the city. According to a local paper, “drinkers took the repeal in a quiet and orderly manner that surprised authorities.” The blasé response to the legalization of booze may have had something to do with the brisk business speakeasies did during prohibition and the steady flow of hooch around the basin. There were, however, a modest 87 drunk arrests in L.A. after the repeal, and dockworkers at Long Beach harbor unloaded 280 cases of cognac, brandy, and wines from France to kick off the bacchanalias.

Like most good maps, this one teaches a few important lessons. For instance, we learn that the moonshines of the world vary from White Lightening in the U.S., to Palm Wine in Africa, to Okolehao in Hawaii. Some of the national drinks are predictable—Vodka in Russia, Champagne in France, Tequila in Mexico—but others are more surprising. Kummel (a liqueur flavored with caraway) is favored in Holland, while fermented camel’s milk (or chal) is popular in Turkey. Arack is a fave in the Middle East, but in China, samshui—a fermented rice beverage somewhat like sake in Japan—is popular. And thanks to the map’s helpful key, you’ll know what to say before throwing back one of these potables, no matter your geographic location: “Za Zadorovic!” in Russia, “Cheerio!” in England, “Banzai!” in Japan, and in our native land (apparently) “Here’s How!”

Much like your third drink at a cocktail party, the recipes on this map—decorated as they are with inebriated animals—will make you giddy with anticipation. The ingredients include egg whites, crème de cacao, and a baffling assortment of fruit rinds. 1935 is a mere eight decades in the rear-view mirror, but I wonder how today’s bartenders in Highland Park or WeHo would respond when given an order for a “Clover Club,” a “Royal Fizz,” a “Brandy Daisy,” or (my favorite) a “Mamie Taylor.”