Historic Beer Birthday: Andrew MacElhone

Today is the birthday of famed bartender Andrew MacElhone (February 8, 1923-September 16, 1996) whose father opened the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France in 1911.

It was originally founded by American jockey Tod Sloan, who so wanted to create the atmosphere of a New York saloon that he actually bought one in New York, had it dismantled, shipped to Paris and rebuilt it where it stands to day at 5 rue Daunou (Sank Roo Doe Noo). It’s original name was simply the New York Bar when it opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1911. Sloan initially hired a Scottish bartender from Dundee named Harry MacElhone to run it, who twelve years later bought the bar in 1923 and added his first name to it. Shortly after opening, it began attracting American expatriates and celebrities, including such “Lost Generation” writers as F Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. George Gershwin supposedly wrote “An American In Paris” there, and it has been visited by many movie stars over the years, from Humphrey Bogart to Clint Eastwood. In the book Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s character Bond said it the best place in Paris to get a “solid drink.” It’s also where the Bloody Mary was first conceived, as well as the White Lady and the Sidecar.

Andrew started working in the bar in 1939, when he was 16, and never left. He took over for his father Harry MacElhone in 1958 and continued to run the bar for 31 years, until 1989. He’s also credited with creating the Blue Lagoon cocktail in the 1960s, when Blue Curaçao was first available in bottles.

Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.

Patent No. 2414446A: Illuminated Beer Tap

Today in 1947, US Patent 2414446 A was issued, an invention of Carl Vincent Carbone, for his “Illuminated Beer Tap.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to new and useful improvements in beer taps, the principal object being to provide a beer tap having illuminating means for illuminating advertising imposed thereon.


Patent No. 6843391B2: Gas Reclamation System

Today in 2005, US Patent 6843391 B2 was issued, an invention of Glyn Jones, for his “Gas Reclamation System.” Here’s the Abstract:

A gas reclamation system for use in a beverage dispensing system. The system includes a valve for releasable connection to a used beverage container containing a pressurized gas, the valve allowing release of gas from the container. A filter for removal of particulate matter from the gas and a sterilizer for removal of bacteria from the gas are also provided, together with a compressor to re-pressurize the filtered and sterilized gas for supply to the beverage dispensing system. The system may be used for carbon dioxide recovery from beverage containers, reducing the consumption of carbon dioxide from beverage dispensing systems.


Patent No. 2698994A: Beer Can Opener

Today in 1955, US Patent 2698994 A was issued, an invention of Walter M. Hansen, for his “Beer Can Opener.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to a can opening device and more particularly to a high speed opener of the performating type.

The conventional practice of storing liquids for customer consumption in cans has presented a problem for operators of restaurants and taverns who necessarily handle a large volume of canned liquids in this form such as beer and fruit juices. The usual practice is to punch a hole in the tops of the cans through which the content is poured into the customers glass. Prior to this time such a can punching operation has not only proved dangerous and laborious but also time consuming in that seldom was the punch conveniently located and its use required two hands, one hand to hold the can while the other hand was used to do the punching. Injuries are likely to occur in case of slippage of the can from the hand of the opener.

It is therefore among the objects and purposes of this invention to provide a high speed can opener requiring only a straight thrust by one hand of the operator used to grasp the can wherein a pivoted cutting blade is brought into cutting engagement with the top of the can.


Patent No. 2186835A: Foam Removing Utensil And Strainer

Today in 1940, US Patent 2186835 A was issued, an invention of John J. Mccauley, for his “Foam Removing Utensil and Strainer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention is an improved foam removing utensil and strainer and is intended especially for use as a bartenders implement as will hereinafter be more fully set out.


Patent No. 489388A: Attachment For Bar-Room Counters

Today in 1893, US Patent 489388 A was issued, an invention of John McNaney, for his “Attachment for Bar-Room Counters.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to improvements in attachments for bar room counters; and it consists in the construction and arrangement of parts which will be fully described hereinafter and particularly referred to in the claims.

The object of my invention is to provide an attachment for counters of bar rooms, which comprises a trough or gutter that is placed upon the floor of the room immediately at the lower front edge of the counter to receive tobacco, spit, beer and other slop which occurs in a bar room, and to provide a hollow foot piece which is capable of a partial rotation and provided with a slot through which water can flow into the said trough for cleaning it out, and be turned with the slot down to dislodge all slop accumulated in the said pipe, and to connect this hollow foot piece or rail with a water main or with a tank, whereby the trough and the pipe can be flushed or cleaned by a flow of water under the control of the bar tender.


Patent No. 2774229A: Draft Beer Dispenser

Today in 1956, US Patent 2774229 A was issued, an invention of Karl Thau and August Kiel Sr., for their “Draft Beer Dispenser.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

Draft beer, i.e. beer as it is drawn from a barrel or keg of relatively large size, e.g. 4 gallons or more generally is less expensive per unit of volume than beer in smaller containers such as tin cans or bottles. Draft beer also is preferred by many people.

Heretofore however the use of draft beer generally has been limited to situations in which the entire contents of a barrel or keg is consumed quickly e. g. within a day or so because beer is known to deteriorate rapidly after a portion of the beer in the container has been withdrawn and replaced by air.

It has been proposed to preserve the beer in large containers such as barrels and kegs by refrigeration, and by replacing the beer which is withdrawn with carbon dioxide gas but such attempts have not, so far as we are advised, been successful in making it practicable for a person or family to use the contents of a keg over a period of one or more weeks.

An object of my invention therefore is to provide a draft beer dispenser adapted for home use or for use on small boats and in other similar situations, which will preserve the beer and permit its use over a relatively long period of time.

A further object of my invention is to provide a portable unit which is capable of use wherever electric current is available.


Dean Biersch Buys The Twin Oaks

This is more local news and will be of interest mainly to my neighbors in Sonoma County. There’s an iconic bar in Penngrove, a small town next to where I live, in Cotati. It’s even smaller than my town, but it does have a pretty cool bar called Twin Oaks, which has been there since 1924, though at least until 1933 it was simply a road house tavern and gas station. Well, maybe not simply. According to 98-year old Vivian Kehl, who worked there during prohibition when it was also a grocery store, Twin Oaks also
sold co-owner Frances Hoar’s “very good home-brewed beer that, despite Prohibition, was widely popular with local customers.” But since we moved up this way, it’s been a kick ass old bar.


But in 2013, Twin Oaks got a new owner, Sheila Groves-Tracey, who’s been booking local bands in the North Bay for decades, and she’d transformed the bar in a concert venue, as well.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Dean Biersch bought the Twin Oak. Biersch was a co-founder of the Gordon Biersch brewpub chain but left when the restaurant side of the business was sold. More recently, he opened the HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol, and has gone on to open two additional locations, one in Sonoma and the other in Novato.

In the Press Democrat, Biersch talked about his plans for the bar:

“In my mind the Twin Oaks is a ‘heritage’ hospitality site – one of the last roadhouse, tavern, honky-honks on the Old Redwood Highway,” said Biersch, reached by phone.

He plans to keep the name and ambiance that Twin Oaks Tavern (5745 Old Redwood Hwy, Penngrove) is known for while renovating and upgrading the space to include a new dance floor, expanded outdoor patio, and new kitchen. A licensing change will allow for families and children to enter the tavern to eat. Another major draw includes a lineup of 16 draft beers.

“It’s been running for 91-years continually, and that’s pretty cool. I’ve never considered (making it) another HopMonk,” he said. “Our biggest focus is to be a part of this great property, close to other craft breweries in Petaluma with a great beer, music and bar atmosphere,” Biersch added.

Twin Oaks will close briefly in January to do some minor renovations, with plans to open again in the spring, but Biersch cautions that’s he’d not planning on changing very much of the iconic old bar.


Patent No. 2022952A: Beer Dispensing System

Today in 1935, US Patent 2022952 A was issued, an invention of Abraham Cohen, assigned to Beer Control Systems Inc., for his “Beer Dispensing System.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to beer dispensing systems.

An object of this invention is to provide a system of the character described, provided with 5 highly improved means for returning the beer within the beer coils to the barrels and for flushing the coils with water and draining the water from the coils.


Patent No. 20130314244A1: Draft Beer Supply Chain Systems And Methods

Today in 2013, US Patent 20130314244 A1 was issued, an invention of Steve Hershberger, Steve Kremer, Matt Mayer, and Mark Kosiarek, assigned to SteadyServ Technologies, LLC, for their “Draft Beer Supply Chain Systems and Methods.” Here’s the Abstract:

Supply chain systems and methods are disclosed for monitoring fluid levels in liquid containers, such as kegs. Embodiments include sensors that fit within a keg’s false bottom, measure the weight of the keg, and transmit the weight information to a computer database via a wireless network. Other embodiments include an RFID device with information about a characteristic of the liquid within a keg (such as brand and/or type of beer) that may be attached to the keg and paired with the sensor so the sensor can transmit information about the characteristic of the liquid in the keg. In alternate embodiments, the sensor’s transmitter is short range and an uplink/gateway is used to receive information from the sensor and relay that sensor’s information to a broader wireless network. Multiple containers in close proximity may each be fitted with an RFID device and sensor and communicate their individual information to the database.