Cabin Grill, New York 1935
Waiter – bring me a very large cocktail. This promotional brochure for the Cabin Grill in New York City dates to about 1935 and is a nostalgic look back at the naughty days of Prohibition. A witty poem: Ah, you who seek for liquid cheer and sadly weep for bygones dear…expresses the frustration of those who couldn’t get a legal drink during the era that outlawed the sale and production of alcohol. There are ‘receipts’ – the term used at the time for recipes – for proper cocktails since drinking was now about something more than just getting drunk on cheap booze.
It also has a chart on which wines go with which foods. Unfortunately, this was to no avail. Americans had lost their taste for wine and many of the vineyards that enthusiastically opened after Repeal quickly went bankrupt. It took fully 50 years to begin to recover from that misguided piece of legislation.
The Cabin Grill later became famous as the birthplace of the modern credit card. While dining in the restaurant, a lawyer called Frank X McNamara was embarrassed when the bill arrived and he realised he was short of cash. He thought there must be a better way for diners to ensure this never happened again and he launched a new enterprise called The Diner’s Club, which allowed members to pay for meals afterwards.
After founding his new company in 1950, McNamara returned to the Cabin Grill for dinner and when the bill arrived, he executed the company’s first transaction using a small cardboard card. This paved the way for the credit card. With thanks to Henry Voigt for this information.
Courtesy Private Collection.
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