Experience this story and others in the new issue of Highsnobiety Magazine, available from retailers around the world and our online store.
From the desk of Highsnobiety Editor-in-Chief Thom Bettridge, The Materialist is an editor’s letter in the form of a treasure hunt for the objects that change the way we perceive our world. In this edition, Thom dives into the items you need to properly stock your at-home bar.
During my college years, I stumbled across a New York Times article from 1902 called “With Well Dressed Men.” I’m not sure how or why I found it, but its contents changed my life in not-so-profound ways.
The article recounts a horse race called the Brooklyn Handicap, going into painstaking effort (with the help of charming ink drawings) to detail the glorious spring outfits of the male socialites in attendance. There was the standing collar and black four-in-hand tie of Mr. Adrian Iselin Jr., the large Panama hat and gray flannels of Mr. William K. Vanderbilt, and, lest anyone forget, the yellow nankeen waistcoat of Mr. Hamilton Carey.
But no peacock at the race drew admiration quite like a man named Evander Berry Wall. The following is just a third of the Times’ gushing review of his outfit: “The trousers were extremely wide, but tapered at the ankle. They were turned up several inches to display white spats and highly varnished patent leather boots. But the crowning glory of the get-up was a dust coat of reddish Havana brown, an extraordinary shade for suiting.”
My 21-year-old self was immediately transfixed by this human being. I bought his memoir, a long and flowery tome called Neither Pest nor Puritan: The Memoirs of E. Berry Wall. The book reads like a thought experiment on a life solely dedicated to the pursuit of the finer things. It contains lines like “Fifth Avenue, to us, was sacred. Broadway was its comic relief,” and enumerates debaucherous triumphs from across the global social circuit. Mr. Wall was a devoted father of chow dogs and rumored to own more than 1,000 ties. During one gathering in Saratoga Springs, he changed outfits 40 times between breakfast and dinner.
On page 39 of the memoir, Mr. Wall shares the recipe for E. Berry Wall Champagne Punch, a concoction containing a mind-boggling amount of different liquors that I had never heard of before. In an attempt to occupy the mindset of my new hero, I purchased a vintage punch bowl and recreated the 1880s potion for a small group of friends. The evening (which I have few memories of) set off a passion for collecting barware and hosting small cocktail parties in my miniscule Upper West Side studio.
The thing about keeping a bar is that it’s a commitment to the lost art of entertaining — or in the mind of the Materialist, the equally lost art of selecting home objects that transmit exuberance and wonder. Here, you can find some essentials for anyone looking to build their own bar, as well as the recipe for the aforementioned punch.
E. Berry Wall Champagne Punch
- One large piece of ice for bowl
- Three lemons and one orange, cut into slices
- One cup of powdered sugar
- One pint of lemon juice
- One quart of brandy
- One quart of whiskey
- Four quarts of Niersteiner (or any German white wine)
- Three quarts of champagne
- One half pint of Chartreuse
- One half pint of Benedictine
- One half pint of Orange Curaçao
- Apollinaris (if required)