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Hollywood Cocktails

Hollywood Cocktails is a square novelty cocktail recipe book published in 1933, designed by George E. Buzza, Jr., and published by his greeting card company Buzza-Cardozo. George Buzza and Ralph Cardozo began their company in Minneapolis, but relocated to Hollywood in the early 1930s—you can read more about their history at the Vintage Valentine blog.

Front cover

This roughly-six-inch square book must have been one of Buzza-Cardozo’s early projects following their relocation, and it apparently sold well enough, enjoying at least four printings in late 1933. This saddle-stitched book with full quarto cover was packaged in a cardstock box featuring the same cover artwork. The third edition added dark red ink for the line art for a two-tone appearance throughout. The excerpts below are from an all-black (except the cover) first edition specimen.

As a recipe book, Hollywood Cocktails is quite problematic. Most of the pages of the book simply present 6-8 terse cocktail recipes in two columns. All but eight of the 222 recipes were copied verbatim from the Savoy Cocktail Book, and about 44 of those were artibrarily renamed after movie stars, streets and film industry jargon to ascribe local (Hollywood) significance to them that was never there in the first place.

Title page

As advertised by the title page (above), eight decorative pages sprinkled throughout the booklet are devoted to one or another of the more fashionable Hollywood hotels, clubs and restaurants of the moment. These eight special pages each get one drink recipe, but they’re all likely fictions as well: five of the eight are just renamed Savoy recipes, and given the context, the remaining three are at least suspect. (You can read more about the plagiarism in this book here.)

Disregarding the text, however, these same eight pages get their own elegant deco line drawing, which is what we’re really here to appreciate! These drawings might have been by George Buzza, himself, or (perhaps more likely) a staff artist.

A page for the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel (read more on this famous entertainment spot on wikipedia) and the absurdly-renamed Plaza Cocktail recipe from the Savoy
A page for the Hollywood Boulevard location of Sardi’s (read more about Sardi’s on wikipedia) and a drink recipe of unclear provenance
A page for Café Vendome, and the renamed Salomé Cocktail recipe from the Savoy
A page for the Brown Derby restaurant (read more on wikipedia), and the renamed De Rigueur Cocktail recipe from the Savoy (itself plagiarized from Judge Jr.’s Here’s How)
A page for the Hi-Ho Club, plus the renamed Princeton Cocktail recipe from the Savoy
A page for the Embassy Club (Hollywood), and a drink recipe of unclear provenance that historian David Wondrich located in marketing materials from Myers’s Rum as the Mar Vista Special
A page for Café Montmartre (more on wikipedia) and a drink recipe of unknown provenance
A page on the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (more on wikipedia) and the renamed recipe for the President Cocktail from the Savoy
End paper

These illustrations reflect the aspirational glamour that Hollywood was selling in the post-Prohibition 1930s. This image of elegance and style tenaciously attached itself to cocktail culture, and the residual effects survive to this day. From its very cover, Hollywood Cocktails also reflects the single most important development of American drinking culture of the time: the inclusion of women.

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