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Q: (Old) Mr. Boston bartender's guide and liquor company ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: (Old) Mr. Boston bartender's guide and liquor company
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: joshglobe-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 18 Dec 2003 08:51 PST
Expires: 17 Jan 2004 08:51 PST
Question ID: 288321
I'd like to find out the history of the "Mr. Boston" official
bartender's and party guide (it's a book, often found for sale in
liquor stores, now published by Warner Books; formerly called "Old Mr.
Boston") and the history of the Old Mr. Boston brand of liquor. Was
there a liquor company called Old Mr. Boston, was it based in Boston,
did it have a good or a bad reputation? When was the company founded
and when did it go out of business?
Subject: Re: (Old) Mr. Boston bartender's guide and liquor company
Answered By: cynthia-ga on 01 Jan 2004 05:35 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings joshglobe,

Thanks for asking such an interesting question.  It was fascinating to research!

If I had tried to research your question a week ago, I would not have
found the answer.  It just so happens that a Boston Globe columnist
just did an article on the history of the Old Mr. Boston name on
December 28th 2003, giving all the answers to your questions.

There was a distillery called Old Mr. Boston, and it was located in
Boston at 1010 Massachusetts Ave. in the Roxbury district.  It was
founded in 1933 by two Boston natives: Irwin "Red" Benjamin and Hyman
C. Berkowitz.  The first edition of the drink recipes guide was
published in 1935 by Ben-Burk Inc.  The 65th edition was just released
in 2003.

The Old Mr Boston Distillery has since shut down, and the Mr. Boston
"brand" has changed hands many times, the most recent being 1995.  The
new owner of the Old Mr. Boston brand of liquors (the distillery being
gone) is the Barton Inc. liquor unit of New York's Canandaigua Wine
Co. (now Constellation).  Although prior owners had all but buried the
logo and history of "Mr. Boston," the current owner has given Old Mr.
Boston back his name, his logo, and "former glory."

Although over time the Mr. Boston name has become nearly synonomous
with the bartender's bible (I can vouch for digsalot's comment, I too
am a licensed and certified mixologist from Las Vegas), the liquor
itself is still being made with the original recipes, and has always
been a well respected brand with many loyal followers.

See the whole article here, it's fascinating:

Looking for Mr. Boston - By Joshua Glenn, Globe Staff, 12/28/2003

Here is the Barton Brands web page showing all the Mr. Boston products
available, with links to more information for each product:

Barton Brands - Alphabetical Products Listing

Here are the liquors you find there:

Mr. Boston Black Raspberry Liqueur
Mr. Boston Cocktails
Mr. Boston Dark Rum
Mr. Boston Egg Nog
Mr. Boston Five Star Brandy
Mr. Boston Five Star Canadian
Mr. Boston Flavored Brandy
Mr. Boston Gin
Mr. Boston Light Rum
Mr. Boston Liqueurs
Mr. Boston Riva Gin
Mr. Boston Riva Vodka
Mr. Boston Rock & Rye
Mr. Boston Schnapps
Mr. Boston Screwdriver
Mr. Boston Tom Collins
Mr. Boston Vodka

Here is their link to order the current Mr. Boston Official
Bartender's & Party Guide in either paperback or hardback:

Here's some interesting links I found along the way, I thought I'd pass them along:

Old Mr. Boston Labels

New Hampshire State Seal
The story New Hampshire's State Seal was documented in a pamphlet
during the 1975 Bicentennial and funded by Old Mr. Boston distillers
who released a "commemorative" liquor bottle.

I hope this answer is what you hoped for...  If I can be of further
assistance, please don't hesitate to ask for a clarification of my
answer, before rating.


search terms used at Google:
"Old Mr. Boston" history
"Mr. Boston" history liquor
"Old Mr. Boston Distillery"
"Mr Boston Distillery" history
joshglobe-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Thanks Cynthia -- although I guess it didn't occur to you that
"joshglobe" and the Boston Globe writer Joshua Glenn were one and the
same! I managed to dig up all the info the hard way -- through
microfilm in the Globe's library. Glad you liked the article.

Subject: Re: (Old) Mr. Boston bartender's guide and liquor company
From: digsalot-ga on 18 Dec 2003 10:51 PST
Hello there

This does not answer or even address your question but I thought you
might be interested in the way Old Mr. Boston Guide is perceived by
the bartending community.

I was a bartender for several years at the old Dunes Hotel in Las
Vegas and later part time at the Las vegas Hilton.

At that Union requirements were that a potential bartender had to work
as a "barboy" or "barback" for a year befire being allowed to take the
bartenders examination and working as a bartender if you passed.

The test was both oral and demonstrative.  Using banks of glassware
and bottles of colored water, etc, one had to know not only how to
mix, but the proper glassware and garbage (garnishes)

Old Mr. Boston is the Bible.  We had to know that book forward and
backward, be able to call out a page number if there was any challenge
to our answer, and more.

I don't know what the situation is out there now as I moved away more
than 20 years ago and union rules may have changed.  But as for the
reputation of the book, it is top notch and rules the scene in first
class resorts around the world.

LOL, I even won $250 and third place nationally in a Mr. Boston drink
creation competition using Midori liquer as a base :)

And I still hate my own creation, a yuckky, sweet, cloying, creamy
concoction that I have avoided completely since the competition ended.


Please note:  The above statement is not about the quality or taste of
Midori.  It is about the mess I created with it.
Subject: Re: (Old) Mr. Boston bartender's guide and liquor company
From: digsalot-ga on 18 Dec 2003 10:53 PST
Correction in third paragraph - should read "At that time"
Subject: Re: (Old) Mr. Boston bartender's guide and liquor company
From: journalist-ga on 18 Dec 2003 19:23 PST
Greetings Joshglobe:

I, too, am interested in the history because I've a set of eight Mr.
Boston martini glasses (Mr. Boston's head and top hat makes up the
stems) and I've always wondered the value of the glasses.  My mother
acquired them in the 1960s.  I've done some searching (to no avail)
trying to ascertain the history of Mr. Boston and the glasses - no
information is yet forthcoming.

I guess we'll both have to inquire of barton Brands and hope for the answer: 

Best regards,
Subject: Re: (Old) Mr. Boston bartender's guide and liquor company
From: cynthia-ga on 02 Jan 2004 10:55 PST
Wow, no, I had no idea, and it didn't occur to me.  In any event, I
did find the article fascinating, thanks.  What irony, that a
researcher finds your very own article and cites it as a source.  I
wonder if that has ever happened before?


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