Cocktail Culture in a Postmodern World
Editorial by John Fleming
In this issue we touch upon a few of the physical avatars of alcohol and the decorative persuasions of advertising and practice in promoting its use in social contexts. As current linguistic clichés would have it, “what goes around, comes around,” in this instance, the revival of the cocktail culture of the art deco period between the wars in the postmodern spirit(s) of today. Our proposal here is to situate and compare, through the decorative aspects that defined a certain stylistic chic of the 1920s and 1930s, the objects that shaped and formed the social scene: the cocktail shaker, the little black dress, the cocktail ring, the glassware panoply of shapes made to match a wide range of alcoholic temptations: flute (champagne), snifter (brandy), goblet (wine), shot glass (whisky), mickey (Canadian whisky), etc. In other words, did cocktail culture and its accessories serve as agents of social behaviour through the decorative arts? Does the shape of a glass affect the touch and taste of the liquid in it? And on the other side of the table, did the prohibitionists express an attitude just as excessive as “too much drinking,” “too much smoking,” from the opposing camp? Whatever the answers might be, cocktail culture created an imaginative and beautiful aesthetic, while the battle of the banners and bottles has now found a new chic in a small but privileged corner of the postmodern.