Historic Beer Birthday: Andrew MacElhone

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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.

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Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.

Beer In Ads #1722: Beer That Warms


Wednesday’s ad is for Brüna, from 1950. I have no idea about the beer itself, but the poster was done by Raymond Savignac, a famous French illustrator at the time. Do a Google image search for him and you’ll see his widely copied style. The French text “La Biere Qui Rechauffe” translates, at least according to Google translate, as “Beer that warms,” which seems curious, although perhaps not to a polar bear (or is it a brown bear?).

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Beer In Ads #953: La Meuse


Tuesday’s ad is for La Meuse, this one I’m guessing is from the late 19th century. There are several other, more artistic, ads from the same period advertising bieres de “La Meuse.” This one shows two snooty gentlemen, with one beer between them. It doesn’t make me want to join them; how about you?

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Beer In Ads #793: Biere Paillette


Wednesday’s ad is another one for Biere Paillette, from Brasserie Paillette in Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France. This one shows a woman with a beer in her hand, sitting on a wooden cask and floating high above an ocean sunrise (or is that sun setting?), with a large ocean liner coming toward us full steam ahead. What does all this imagery mean? I haven’t a clue. Does anyone?

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Beer In Art #164: Vincent Van Gogh’s Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin

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Today’s artwork is another painting by one of the world’s most well-known artists, Vincent Van Gogh. This one is a portrait entitled Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin, completed in 1887. Today it hangs in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Holland.

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Here’s how Wikipedia describes the work:

In the painting Agostina, a woman in her forties, can be seen smoking a cigarette while having her second glass of beer, evidenced by two saucers under the mug of beer. In demeanor and style, such as her clothing, make-up and hairstyle, she is a modern woman. She is wearing a fashionable hat. According to the style at the time, her jacket is a different design than her dress. A parasol sits on one of the seats next to her.

Van Gogh used the theme of a woman sitting at a small table, introduced by Impressionists, such as Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet. The table and stools were in the shape of tambourines, befitting the café’s theme. On the wall behind her are Van Gogh’s Japanese prints, which he began exhibiting at the café in February, 1887. The brightly colored painting and confident subject represent a shift in Van Gogh’s attitude, in comparison to his previous subjects, such as were dark, tragic peasants.

And apparently Van Gogh was very familiar with both the Café du Tambourin and its owner, Agostina Segatori, who had also been a model for Edouard Manet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and other artists. More from Wikipedia:

[The Café du Tambourin] was a gathering spot for Parisian artists, a place where their work was exhibited. Van Gogh, unable to pay in cash for his meals, exchanged paintings for meals. The paintings then adorned the restaurant. He held a special exhibit of his Japanese prints in the café as well. His connection with Agostina and the cafe came to a sad end when she went bankrupt and Van Gogh’s paintings were confiscated by creditors. This painting, however, demonstrates an artistic discovery that culminated in his unique, creative style not quite on the brink of being understood and revered.

I can’t tell if she’s trying to relax after a long day, or having a quick smoke and a coiple of beers in order to face her shift behind the bar. Based on the expression on her face, it could be either.

For more about Vincent Van Gogh, Wikipedia is a good place to start, though there’s even more at the Vincent Van Gogh Gallery, which has a complete list of his works. There are also tons of links at the ArtCyclopedia and another biography at the Web Museum.

Beer In Ads #536: Grande Brasserie D’Arcueil


Monday’s ad is still one more by Eugene Oge, a French illustrator who did a number of great beer adverts during his lifetime from 1861-1936. He was a major figure in the Belle Epoque and did many outstanding ads for resorts, food, and all sorts of beverages and brands. This is the fifth of his I’ve featured, and it’s for a presumably French beer brand, Grande Brasserie D’Arcueil. On a particularly hot day, the server appears to be licking the beer foam on the side of the glass as he delivers a giant mug of beer.

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