A Jolly Drink Indeed
Story by Molly Wellmann; Photograph by Terry Allen
In 1901, Richard E. Fox, publisher of the widely popular national men’s magazine The National Police Gazette, awarded bartender Peter F. Sindar of St. Paul, Minnesota the Gazette’s coveted Bartenders’ Medal. His winning drink was called the Elks Fizz.
Why the name? After digging a little deeper, I found that Sindar was involved in quite a few societies of the day. He was the grand master of ceremonies for the Knights of the Royal Arch, a secular Masonic Order composed of 250 wholesale and liquor dealers. He was also a member of the Knights of Fidelity and a member of the Bartenders International League, which was a part of the American Federation of Labor. I couldn’t find out whether he was a member of the Elks or not, but I could see him being inspired by that order’s history.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was founded by a gentleman named Charles Vivian, an English entertainer who moved to New York in 1867. His first stop in New York was, of course, a saloon, where he quickly made friends over drinks. The group, made up mostly of minstrels and other entertainers, enjoyed meeting, drinking, and playing a game called Drop the Cork, where the last person to pick up his cork would be the loser and would have to buy the round of drinks. The group was soon known as the Jolly Corks. In wanting to help a deceased member’s family and also to avoid Sunday blue laws in New York, they decided to become more of a service fraternity and renamed themselves the Elks (the name “Buffaloes” was narrowly defeated).
I can imagine Sindar being inspired by this history and naming his cocktail for a society that started with drinking. Alternatively, he may have enjoyed a Chicago Fizz, another popular turn-of-the-20th-Century libation, and decided to switch out the rum for whiskey and rechristen it as his entry in the Police Gazette’s popular contest. We will probably never know the exact origin of the name for sure. But one thing is certain: This drink is amazing and should be enjoyed at any time of day.
The Order of Elks was founded by Charles Vivian, an English entertainer who moved to New York in 1867 and befriended a group of minstrels and other entertainers. They enjoyed playing a game called Drop the Cork, where the last person to pick up his cork would have to buy the round of drinks. The group was soon known as the Jolly Corks.
- 1.5 ounces whiskey
- 1 ounce Port wine
- .5 ounce fresh lemon juice
- .5 ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
Add all ingredients to a shaker. Add ice. Shake, shake, shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a piece of pineapple (optional).