Mixing it Up: Drink Stirrers and Cocktail Sticks

Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

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.

(a female figure and some glass octopus swizzle sticks; images credit: Anne, Full Blown Glass)

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.

(images credit: Nicole Caulfield, Jimbo Walker)

These days there seems to be no limit to the creativity designers of drink stirrers and cocktail sticks, so we thought we’d showcase a few examples here at Dark Roasted Blend. Cheers.

Here’s a very nice set of cocktail sticks for the avid golfer (left image below)... Or maybe you’re more of a bowling enthusiast? -

(image credit: Sheryl's Art Deco Emporium)

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)? -

(images credit: Sheryl's Art Deco Emporium)

These bathing beauties (right image above) from the forties are designed for the edges of cocktail glasses as markers.

More vintage pinup girls, this time posing on a glass rim:

(image via)

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):

(images credit: The Log Chateau)

No doubt “bottoms up” would be the most frequent toast offered whenever drinks were served featuring these:

(image credit: Uncommon Vintage)

These she devil swizzle sticks and skull drink stirrers would perhaps be the ideal accompaniment to what some consider the demon drink:

(image credit: Uvaboutique-Etsy)

These stirrers are topped with golden animals (left) and on the right there are a couple of romantically inclined giraffes:

(images via Sunday Noises, Natalie Johnson)

Here are a few more mermaid-themed stirrers:

(images via)

This rooster would certainly add a little color to your beverage (left)... More roosters, not as colourful maybe, but still very attractive silver adornments for your cocktail (right):

(images via Iris Bleu Antiques, Vintage Kitsch)

The sticks themselves may be pretty ordinary, but the snails make this quite an attractive holder (left). Same with these palm trees, neatly contained in colourful dice:

(images via Iris Bleu Antiques)

How about some beautifully crafted glass fruit on the top of your stirrer? -

(image credit: Karen Montgomery)

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:

(images via 1, 2)

Here are various vintage TWA sticks, including TWA Lockheed Constellation swizzle stick and the "Swizzles of All Nations" series:

(images credit: Todd Lappin, Elaine)

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:

(images credit: SwizzleStickCollecting.com)

Of course, if you consume too many cocktails, you might be seeing pink elephants. These are all striking a pose and each one is delicately handcrafted in frosted pink glass (left image below):

(image credit: The Vintage Cookbook Maven; right: LED-illuminated sticks)

Exotic Mer-Lion swizzle sticks from Singapore (left) and a cute rabbit-shaped cocktail stick holder (right):

(image credit: Riyazi Muzzamil, Mark Philpott)

The "Royal Order of Jesters" (left) and a dynamic figure of Jackie Gleason from the Miami Beach Hilton Plaza:

(image credit: Devlin Thompson, 2)

Norma Hazelton owns a magnificent collection of hundreds (if not thousands) of swizzle sticks:

(image credit: "Magnificent Obsessions: Truly Remarkable Collectors in Pursuit of Their Dreams" by Mitch Tuchman, photographs by Peter Brenner via)

This collection of vintage sticks is from a variety of places, with one of them advertising the Space Needle in Seattle.

(image credit: Traca Savadogo)

Help! I need somebody (not just anybody) -

(image via)

And we finish with the pretty obvious idea: "swizzle sticks" looking like, well... thorny sticks:

(image credit: Laura Walls Taylor)

Article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.


Check out our "VINTAGE" category for more great collections ->


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