Kitsch & Cool: The 1950s-1970s Golden Age for signature swizzle sticks.
Cocktails have been around for quite a while. The first ones were devised in the early nineteenth century, when flavours were added to alcoholic drinks to mask the often unrefined and harsh taste of the liquor. Drinks were most commonly mixed with fruit juices, honey, milk, cream, spices and a variety of sauces.
During Prohibition from 1919 to 1933, alcohol may have been illegal in the United States, but Americans still consumed alcoholic drinks. However, some of these were homemade or at least came from dubious sources. Consequently, the quality of liquor was often considerably lower than what it had previously been available. Cocktails increased in popularity as customers mixed their drinks other liquids to make them palatable. Of course, you needed something to stir your drink. And if your drink included an olive, cherry, or other piece of fruit, you needed to skewer it with a cocktail stick, also known as a swizzle stick, rather than sticking your fingers in your drink. In 1934, Jay Sindler designed a small spear for this purpose, adding a paddle at the top. This could be used for advertising and promotion and was a lot cheaper than logo-emblazoned ashtrays or books of matches.
This collection comes with its own musician, but probably no actual accordion music for your entertainment (on the left). Perhaps this fellow’s red nose is meant to serve as a deterrent to anyone considering making use of the nearby cocktail sticks to serve some drinks (middle image)? -
Here’s a very nice set of stirrers from the sixties featuring harmonicas and whistles, which are apparently all still in working order (left image below). Also from the sixties, here’s a set of mermaid pin-up girl swizzle sticks. They all have a forked tail for holding fruit, or using as forks for snacks and hors d’oeuvre (on the right):
St. George may have slain the dragon, but that spear would obviously also have come in very handy for holding slices of fruit in someone’s drink, or maybe for skewering some snacks (left image). On the right are the chess-themed glass swizzle sticks from the 1960s:
This stick comes from the Wreck Bar at The Castaways, a motel resort in Miami Beach, Florida from 1958 to 1981 (left). This very decorative swizzle stick is from the Rhythm Room at the Bellerive Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri (middle). Why have real fruit in your banana daiquiri when you can have this one, all the way from Mountain Top, the highest spot in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands (middle). On the right is the stick from Poodle Room Fontainebleau in Miami, Florida:
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