Vintage Ad Archive: Drinking In The Holidays!

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.11.40 AM
Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 1.11.40 AM

A couple days ago, I brought you an article that discussed and illustrated some of the many varied Christmas campaigns that Whiskey companies (and their affiliated ad agencies) have unleashed over the years.But while compiling those images and composing the commentary, I began to realize an awful truth: limiting my topic thusly might make for a fine selection of pictures, but it would, by its very nature, leave some readers out in the cold.

Martini, 1938
Martini, 1938

Because, the fact of the matter is, not everybody likes Whiskey.And though it's my standard tipple of choice once inclement weather sets in, there are times even I feel like branching out and mixing it up a bit.Be it a hearty mulled wine, a spiked coffee beverage, a crisp gin cocktail, or a nice mellow glass of beer, I've been known to indulge in all manner of liquid refreshment while commiserating with loved ones (and awaiting the opening of presents) – and I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't present the proper historical perspective, and showcase some other classic styles of Santa-and-snow-flocked sales pitches.

So I've gone digging through my piles of old paper once more, and emerged with another selection of visuals, demonstrating the greater range of Christmas-themed drink promotions.

Though it was a fairly niche taste in the U.S. through the first half of the 20th Century,Vodka became a major player in the bar world in the 1950s, when Smirnoff launched their first massive stateside campaign (and in the process, made the Moscow Mule a cocktail sensation).Other distillers were soon hyping their own brands of high-proof Russian-styled refreshment, and by the winter months of the early '70s, the liquor was well-established as a a seasonal staple.

Rum was another regular suspect when it came to such matters – Bacardi (and other companies) sold their product by the bushel, suggesting it as perfect for mixing with eggnog or mixing in other festive recipes.

And though it's often thought of as a warm-weather drink (with its refreshing, restorative properties), Gin is certainly no slouch when it comes to partaking in yuletide merriment.

After all, Christmas is a truly international celebration, with appeal unbound by borders or liquor preferences.

Cuervo 1800, 1981
Cuervo 1800, 1981

Cordials, Vermouths, and Apertifs seem a natural fit for the season, and the color and pageantry of Christmas have also been used to market these styles of delectable drinkables.

Dubonnet, 1945
Dubonnet, 1945

Beer, Wine, and Champagne (or, ahem, "American Champagne"), also have long histories of tying themselves to the holidays in all kinds of ads.

Likewise port, brandy, and other delights, who came up with some interesting visual spins on the usual festive fare.

But in all, I think my favorite style of wintertide promotion is the one that focuses on the heartwarming sense of being with friends and family – entertaining, throwing parties, sharing gifts and laughs.

Fleischmann's, 1963
Fleischmann's, 1963

Some thoughtful companies even produced themed pamphlets to assist consumers in planning their holiday soirees – which, when viewed today, provide a fascinating peek into the tastes and traditions of a bygone age.

Four Roses brochure, circa 1960s
Four Roses brochure, circa 1960s
AlcProfXmasFourRosesBrochure2
AlcProfXmasFourRosesBrochure2

And there's one other major style of liquored-up Christmas publicity that though it would be fun to mention.  Liquor stores used to give away lavish catalogs/calendars at the end of each year, and I've found these publications to be particularly valuable for gaining insight into the drinking culture of that bygone era –  I'm always fascinated upon picking one up to flip through, enjoy the glossy color photos, read the recipes, check out the bits of trivia and information, and marvel at the prices.

two-page spread from the 1957 Dunhall Wines catalog (store located at Irving Place and 19th Street, New York City)
two-page spread from the 1957 Dunhall Wines catalog (store located at Irving Place and 19th Street, New York City)
a helpful hint from the same catalog
a helpful hint from the same catalog

And with that, I'd best be signing off...  There's wine to mull, presents to wrap, and other last-minute details to complete before the party gets here.  (I should also probably do something for those carolers gathered outside my door – I wonder if they'd like some cocktails?)

I hope these glimpses of historical holiday spirits have put you in the holiday spirit, and on behalf of all us here at Alcohol Professor HQ, I'd like to wish you and yours all the happiness of the season.  Be safe, be merry, and keep an eye out for intoxicated elves!

DrunkSanta
DrunkSanta