Vintage Ad Archive: Booze Around the World

There has always been a certain air of romance and sophistication associated with alcohol.  Whether it's the gin-soaked grandeur of Jazz Age aristocrats, the artistic passion of wine-stained Parisian bohemians, or the kitchen sink elegance of Holly Golightly's house parties, cocktails have the power to conjure up an immediate aura of culture and distinction – the sense, enhanced by movies and literature, that one well-mixed drink is all it takes to launch us into the sphere of tastemakers, innovators, industrialists, and jet-setters.

And that international vibe has been the basis of many memorable ad campaigns over the years.  Distilleries have created suave, worldly identities by transporting their brands to colorful lands and exotic locales, and established their elite status by placing themselves in different settings.  And now it's my pleasure to present you with some of my favorites – the world through the eyes of the alcohol industry of the 20th century!

Our first stop will be down in Sunny Mexico, where the local beverage of choice before World War II was...Canadian Club?

Canadian Club, 1937
Canadian Club, 1937

Hmm.  That doesn't seem right, somehow.  Perhaps we just need to look a little farther south to get a taste of real local flavor.

Canadian Club, 1938
Canadian Club, 1938

Okay.  This seems a little ridiculous, but maybe it's just that we're still staying too far north.  Let's hop all the way down to Argentina, and see if we can get some idea of what they were drinking in those days!

Canadian Club ad from Argentina, circa mid-1940s
Canadian Club ad from Argentina, circa mid-1940s

Wow.  That is some serious market saturation.

The company's focus wasn't limited to the Americas, either.  For much of the 20th Century, Canadian Club used their advertising to establish themselves in the minds of Americans as the universal Whiskey, readily available no matter where one traveled.

Other companies used similarly international approaches for their promotions. Page after page of the bestselling magazines were populated with brightly-colored pictures of global Gins and worldly Whiskies.

Hiram Walker produced some memorable (and colorful) ads focusing on the international origin of their ingredients.

Certain brands presented themselves as the liquid embodiment of their homelands – "if you're drinking this, it's just like actually being there!"

Some companies focused less on specific destinations, and more on the stylistic elements of travel itself.

Chivas had the novel concept of producing an travel-themed ad telling consumers exactly which airlines served their product.

Chivas Regal, 1967
Chivas Regal, 1967

And possibly best of all, Old Crow introduced a special "Traveler" bottle, so on-the-go boozehounds could better smuggle their Bourbon onto long flights.

Old Crow Traveler, 1968
Old Crow Traveler, 1968

Of course, some distilleries refused to get bogged down in details, and simply used a "big-picture" approach. After all, why worry about the individual countries or the methods of travel, when you can just take on the entire world?

And that seems like a good note to end on – I could come up with dozens of other global-themed ads, but I should probably save all that for another time, as I have a plane to catch!  Hopefully I'll see you again soon, for another view of the world through rose-colored cocktail glasses... 'Til then, safe travels and bon voyage!