If you're into thinkin' and drinkin'

Episode 43: Who is Barbara West? – The Barbara West Cocktail


Initially we all figured that this cocktail history would be a slam dunk. It has a name of a person…it’s named after someone. It has to be easy to find out.

We couldn’t have been more wrong. This drink was a complete mystery. Jay could not find any references to it anywhere prior to our source book from 2009. So we couldn’t find the source…and from there we couldn’t identify the origin of the name.

Looking at the name Barbara West itself, we searched for Barbara Wests of note. There is a Barbara West Titanic survivor. There also is a book with the title of Barbara West. None of these helped to shed light on the origins of the cocktail.

This in and of itself is amazing. How does this drink fail to have any sort of background? How did our source book, Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails know about this cocktail to be able to list it? We would welcome anybody with some hard sources to share to end this mystery.

The ingredients for this drink are:

  • 2 oz – gin
  • 1 oz – sherry
  • 1/2 oz – lemon juice
  • 1 dash – Angostura bitters

We all decided that the cocktail was rather ordinary. Quite a bit of lemon with a hit from the sherry, but otherwise like many drinks we’ve already tried.

We spent most of our time at the Brixton this episode discussing names and all of the ins and outs of naming people and pets. I would say one of the key themes we kept returning to throughout the episode is how names, books, movies, etc. that we think are amazing and perfect now may not resonate with culture in the future, so much so that the connotative meaning of an idea or story is completely lost much later. A theory was put forth that such might have been the fate of Barbara West. Is it possible that a cultural sensation got a drink named after it, but then quickly went away and was forgotten completely? Will anybody know or care about Harry Potter in 100 years? or Star Wars? Will 9/11 earn a footnote in the 21st century’s historical record? It’s hard to know what people will care about in the future.

Barbara West pic

Transition music: Cephalopod by Kevin MacLeod
Closing Music: Barbara Allen by Abunai

Liked it? Take a second to support Black Liver Project on Patreon!

No Comments Yet