Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Images From the Museum of the American Cocktail

After being homeless in New Orleans for three years after Katrina struck, the Museum of the American Cocktail finally reopened recently. It's actually a museum within a museum, a one-room affair inside the larger Southern Food and Beverage Museum on the Riverwalk Marketplace mall along the waterfront.

It could be called the Ted Haigh Museum, so many of of the antique items in the display cases come from the cocktail historian's collection. Others belong to Dale DeGroff and Jeff Berry. The latter contributed mainly Tiki stuff, of course. When I visited, it was hard to get a word in edgewise with Haigh, who was entertaining some Spanish gentlemen who wouldn't stop asking questions—questions Haigh was more than happy to answer at enormous length. But I did find time to mention that there was no indication that the Berry items came from his collection. Haigh suddenly remembered that the tags with Berry's name had come in and quickly set about putting them in the place in the cases. My small contribution to the Museum.

Haigh mentioned that one item he's really like for the Museum is an intact 19th-century cocktail shaker. Hear that? So, if you've got one, cough it up, man! History's at stake here.


Jimbo Walker said...

As one of the early contributers of the Museum, I have come to the conclusion that Ted is just not good at giving credit to it's donors. I would hope that maybe a he will see this and get better about that.
With said the New Museum is very well done and as I send more items it will be a joy to see it grow.

Dr.Cocktail said...

As curator, I am distressed to read Jim Walker's assessment of my intentions. While it is true that I remain constantly behind in captioning the wonderful artifacts we exhibit, I have always tried to default to giving our lenders the first benefit of acknowledgment. By the time Jim saw the current exhibit he has requested his items be returned to him for the cocktail shaker symposium event at Tales of the Cocktail. I would request that he and any readers who presume his assertions are correct get in touch with Kathie Crabtree and Mark Bigler, two shaker contributors who kept their shakers in the current exhibit. They were well credited with their contributions and I believe they will tell you as much. Nonetheless, this is particularly vexing since I personally saw Jim at Tales and never to my face was a word said about these concerns.

I'd like to make a promise that I will be constantly working to caption all artifacts individually in our museum. In the meantime I invite anyone to visit us in Riverwalk and (if energetic) determine the number of artifacts, the number of captioned artifacts, and then do the math to determine the proportion of credit I give our valued contributors versus the credit I give my own material. Hint: In a time pinch I attempted to give EVERY lender credit whereas my contributions (and, by the way, any insurance coverage for them) were held in abeyance for lack of time. Not so the artifacts from such lenders as Jim. THEY are covered to the maximum value. I think the presumption is that i get more benefit from our arrangement. Having contributed all my time from the end of February to present without pay, I would dispute that. My plan is to travel to the museum ( I live in Burbank CA) regularly to add documentation, exhibits, and additional insight to to museum. My first focus remains those who contribute without presumptive benefit for themselves. Jim could not have known this, but his assertion could not be more wrong or more distressing to me. I hope any concerned devotees of the museum will contact me before presuming Jim's words are factual. I am personally offended that Jim never once approached me with his concerns.

--Ted Haigh

Robert Simonson said...

I'm sure we're all well aware of the hard work Ted Haigh has put into the Museum of the American Cocktail, and wish him and it every success. For my part, I intended the bit about the Jeff Berry citations to be taken in a humorous light.

Dr.Cocktail said...

How about an email address, Robert? I have another misconception (this time yours) to apprise you of. No need to make it public. --Doc.