Batterberry, Michael and Ariane Batterberry. On the Town in New York: A History of Eating, Drinking and Entertainment from 1776 to the Present. New York: Scribner, 1973; reprinted 1999.
A lively and broad history of eating and drinking at all levels of society, with a comprehensive bibliography.
Bayles, W. Harrison. Old Taverns of New York City. New York: Frank Allaben Genealogical Co., 1915.
Anecdotal and historic information on taverns from the first tavern in 1643 to the 1830s.
Einstein, Izzy. Prohibition Agent No.1: The Startling and Humorous Experiences of America’s Most Famous Prohibition Agent. Introduction by Stanley Walker. New York: Stokes, 1932. With photographs.
“Dedicated to ‘the 4,932 persons I arrested,” Izzy and his partner were unusual, colorful, effective agents who disguised themselves as gravediggers and icemen and did whatever it took to catch bootleggers and speakeasy owners. Einstein predicted in his foreword that “the day when Prohibition is repealed will not be our lifetime. And I’m not looking forward to dying soon.”
Graham, Stephen. New York Nights. Illustrations by Karl Wiese. London: Ernest Benn, 1928.
Graham, a British journalist, came to write about New York’s colorful nightlife just before the 1929 Stock Market Crash. He sees it all, from the elegant Ritz Carlton roof garden to Texas Guinan’s popular club, Romany Marie’s, in Greenwich Village, up to Harlem hot spots and way down to Bowery flophouses.
Kahn, Gordon. Manhattan Oases. New York 1932. Speak-easies with a Gentleman’s Guide to Bars and Beverages. Illustrated by Al Hirshfeld. Introduction by Heywood Broun. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1932. Quarto size. Reprinted in 2006 as The Speakeasies of 1932. Introduction by Pete Hamil. Milwaukee, WI: Glen Young Books.
Hirshfeld sketched each bartender and Kahn added a colorful description and recipe for the bartender’s favorite drinks on the facing page. Kahn writes of Jack and Charlie’s (the “21” Club), “Probably the only place on the Island (sic) where one can call for Dewar’s, Teacher’s, Walker’s Black Label, or any other band of whiskey and get just that.”
Lerner, Michael A. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 3. Dry Manhattan: Class, Culture and Politics in Prohibition Era New York City 1919-1933.
Originally a doctoral thesis, this is an excellent, engaging and exhaustive account of the principal players, the politics and the ramifications of Prohibition in New York.
Okrent, Daniel. Last Call. The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York: Scribner, 2010. Illustrated.
The history of American drinking habits and the intricate political alliances in the nineteenth century temperance crusade, that included women suffragettes, social reformers, religious groups and anti-vice groups.
Zerbe, Jerome. John Perona’s Family Album. Introduction by Lucius Beebe. Pvt ptg: 1937, folio.
A photograph album of El Morocco by a popular photographer unveils the quintessential glamorous café society complete with Hollywood stars. Uncommon, but worth finding for a fulsome picture of the times.
Crane, Stephen. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. New York: pvt ptg by the author, 1893. Reprinted.
Crane brings to life the tawdry, wretched saloon world of the Lower East Side.
Madden, Joe. What’ll You Have, Boys. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1934.
Madden had a steak house/speakeasy and wrote a few books that are obscure, but present an authentic voice of the times. Ring Lardner was a fan of Madden’s writing.
Mitchell, Joseph. Mc Sorley’s Wonderful Saloon. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1943. Reprinted.
The great New Yorker writer who profiled quirky, under-the-radar New York denizens immortalized the watering hole before women were admitted.