Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller have been toiling away on the French island of Bendor for the past couple of years, working on a fabulous assignment: cataloging, photographing and chronicling a vast treasure trove of spirit and mixology ephemera. Founder Paul Ricard started the collection, known as the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux (EUVS, www.euvs.org), in 1958 to be a complete and permanent encyclopedia of the world’s spirits.
In fact, Ricard (yes, that Ricard, the creator of the aniseed-based liqueur and pioneer of modern spirits marketing, advertising and promotions) had amassed a collection of 8,000 bottles of wine and spirits, along with crystal, glassware, labels, restaurant menus and drink lists dating as far back as the 1860s. Distillers from 52 countries on six continents responded when he first asked them to donate unopened bottles of their brands to EUVS. The collection languished, but today, more than 2,700 spirits representing 35 categories, ranging from arrack to quinquina, are in place.
Can’t get there yourself? That’s what the Internet is for, and the site is a terrific archive, not only of collectibles but also a great resource for the drink historian. Downloadable books include William Terrington’s “Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks” and William Tarling’s “Cafe Royal Cocktail Book;” the latter was originally published in 1937 by the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild and offers a glimpse into the drinks offered in London bars between the two world wars.
The site is far from static; there’s even a cool “Cocktail Menu Creator” that allows professional and amateur alike to play with some classic designs for their own use. Overall there’s a lot to see here, and the site definitely deserves a place on any mixologists’ computer toolbar bar.