Free house, tavern law, speakeasy, are some of the words associated with bars, but it’s easy to forget where these terms for pubs came from. The history of the bar is fully intertwined with free speech and the right to protest. When a government seeks to control the rights of all, or some, conversations between assembled groups of drinkers is one of the hardest to stop.
The surreal political climate in the United States has me heartened to see famous bartenders like Charles Joly—past winner of the Diageo World Class Bartending Competition—using their elevated standing to call out authoritarian forces. He’s posted from the Women’s March on Washington, and the airports he frequents.
There needs to be an immediate discussion about the role of the modern bartender in protest. That conversation suggests a notable bar man who did his best in trying circumstances; Frank Meier, head bartender of the Café Parisian, in the Paris Ritz, during Nazi occupation.
“There were very few people, who were staff at the Ritz, who were not actively engaged in some kind of resistance” notes Tilar J. Mazzeo in his book The Hotel on Place Vendôme.
Trained by Harry Craddock in New York, at the famous Hoffman House, Meier created the Bee’s Knees cocktail.
If you believe that refugees should be able to continue to flee persecution and violence, here’s the Frank Meier classic to toast that flight.
by Frank Meier
1.5 oz London dry gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
.75 oz clover honey water
Method: Dilute the honey with hot water using the formula of two parts honey to one part water, then allow the mixture to cool.
Combine the ingredients in a shaker, then give it a hard shake. Finally, fine strain the mixture into chilled coupé. V