On Time National Museum of American History

Marking Time
Synchronizing Time
  Time-Saving Kitchen
  Dr. Gilbreth's Kitchen
  Time Control
  Happy Hour
Cocktail Culture
Home Bars

Happy Hour

Cocktail Culture
Cocktail set
Cocktail set by Bernard Rice's Sons; used by Mr. and Mrs. Foster M. Reader, West Hatton, Maryland, from the 1920s through the 1940s
Gift of Martha M. Patrick
In the not-yet-regimented workplaces of the early 1800s, drinking alcohol was a normal part of the workday. As drinking became separated from work, saloons flourished—always crowded, mostly with men, who often were violently drunk. In the 1920s, Prohibition shut down the saloons. It also spawned a new leisure-time cocktail culture-respectable, often home-centered, influenced by women, and highly ritualized, with specialty drinks and refined cocktail sets. Following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the cocktail hour grew in popularity. The evening drink marked the transition to personal time.
Home Bars
Detail from front cover of Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide
Detail from front cover of Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide, 1948
Lent by Sharon Forrer
Cocktail culture flourished in American suburbs in the 1950s. Home bars, often Dad-built in the basement recreation room, were popular. They were well stocked with liquor, often in labeled decanters. Even more important than the alcohol itself were the accessories required for the rituals of preparing the drinks—an ice bucket, tongs, cocktail shaker, martini pitcher and stirring rod, glassware of various shapes and sizes, and swizzle sticks, as well as bartenders' guides.
Cocktail shaker
Ice bucket
Martini pitcher and stirring rod
Cocktail shaker, 1950s
Lent by the family of
Beatrice M. Schwartz
  Ice bucket, 1950s
Lent by Elaine Paulick
  Martini pitcher and stirring rod, 1950s
Lent by Elaine Paulick
Martini glasses
Herman Paulick
Martini glasses, 1950s   Decanters, 1950s
Lent by Elaine Paulick
  Herman Paulick, 1950s; mixing cocktails at home, La Grange, Illinois
Courtesy of the family of Herman R. Paulick Jr.
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Smithsonian National Museum of American History