The very first paragraph from the Foreword of Charles H. Baker‘s The Gentleman’s Companion two-volume collection reads as follows:
One comfortable fact gleaned from travel in far countries was that regardless of race, creed, or inner metabolisms, mankind has always created varying forms of stimulant liquid — each after his own kind. Prohibitions and nations and kings depart, but origin of such pleasant fluid finds constant source.
These words provide insight into the inspiration for and love of all things wonderful to be imbibed or consumed from around the world by Mr. Baker as he traveled the globe and yearned to share his experiences with those that were similar in spirit in his enthusiasm for food and drink. Charles H. Baker, born December 25, 1885, is best known as a globetrotter and writer for Esquire, Vanity Fair, and Gourmet magazines. During his travels, he would document recipes of interesting meals and alcoholic beverages he deemed unique and worthy of sharing with his readership. What makes Baker’s books so compelling is his propensity for colorful prose, and more importantly, his zest for life. Mr. Baker wrote a two-volume compendium titled The Gentleman’s Companion, originally published in 1939 by Derrydale Press. The first edition run was leather-bound and limited to 1,250 copies. Surviving examples in good condition regularly sell for a few thousand dollars today. Fortunately, for the plebians among us (including me), a trade edition was released in 1946 and can be had for less than a couple hundred dollars. And although not as valuable as the first edition, the 1946 edition is no less rich in stories, recipes, and Baker’s keen sense of descriptive and romantic writing style that easily transports the reader back to an older and nostalgic era.
Here’s a chance to grab your copy of Baker’s two-volume The Gentleman’s Companion, that includes Vol 1: Being an Exotic Cookery Book and Vol 2: Being an Exotic Drinking Book. Besides being a terrific read, you will also find some interesting recipes that would otherwise be lost to time and the inability to experience it for yourself in the native setting. For the distinguished gentleman, this is a terrific item to add to your library as a collectible, but more importantly to be used as a reference for a unique cocktail or special meal. This set is currently available on Ebay for a Buy-it-now price of $118, which is a lot cheaper than flying to Sai Gon for an Absinthe Drip.
Author: Charles H. Baker
Title: The Gentleman’s Companion: Exotic Cookery and Drinking Book
Price: $118.00 Buy it now
The Gentleman’s Companion – 2 VOLUME COMPLETE SET
A rare cocktail and exotic food recipe guide by Charles H. Baker, Crown Publishers, NY, NY, 1946.
2 hardcover volumes in a cardboard slipcase. The top of the slip case has separated from the rest of the slip case and is not attached. There also separation of back slip case and side binding. (See pictures).
Volume 1 – “Being an Exotic Cookery Book or, Around the World With Knife, Fork and Spoon”, 220 pages.
Volume 1 has some pencil markings in a few pages. There are a few pages with folds that have been flattened. Book is in good condition with light fading on spine. Front and back covers have a few slight marks.
Volume 2 – “Being an Exotic Drinking Book or, Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask”, 216 pages.
Volume 2 is in very good condition with light fading on spine. Front and back covers have a few slight marks.
This was first published in 1939 by Derrydale Press in a limited edition, priced at $15.
This set is the first trade edition, dated 1946.
In Volume 2, Baker outlines a grand cocktail tour that takes the reader on imaginative flights fueled by drinks like the Vladivostok Virgin, “being a risky little heart-warmer from out Frozen Siberia,” or “the unpredictable Balloon Cocktail from Calcutta’s smartest restaurant, Firpo’s.”
Baker recounts that he and his friends took up a ship load of booze in Gibraltar in 1931 and mixed, drank and rated every conceivable cocktail from Suez through Hong Kong to Honolulu.
There is a recipe for the “immortal” Hong Kong ROSY DAWN exotic cocktail.
This is the greatest drink travelogue ever. Picture two bon vivants prior to WW2 drinking their way around the world.