Mid Century Modernists Had It Right …

or, it’s time to reinvent an epic cocktail party life.

What were we thinking? How did we ever let go of the mid century trending “then” cocktail party? A good strong Mai Tai, perfectly stirred, not shaken. Cocktails served in style in chilled glass tumblers. Olive & celery trays, little Vienna sausages on frilly toothpicks. Not a red Solo cup or plastic serve ware in sight. Nice, Right?

Especially now.

Sipping chilled pink martinis on the patio with the neighborhood tribe, Booker T. & the MG’s playing Green Onions on the record player, dancing it up after a few Mai Tai’s. Pretty, pretty, perfect.

All of this being mostly in the past, it made me wonder; How did the cocktail party actually come to be, and why not just get back to it?

Find good old and interesting barware. Some of my favorites are Culver, Osborne Kemper, Fred Press and Gay Fad. Bring the party back home. The mid century modernists had it right, from the fab barware, stunning dresses & hostess gowns to swanky men in suits. Get Social, mid century style.

Humorous Glasses, by Unknown Maker/Designer Osborne Kemper Thomas

Of course, people have been drinking at home for time eternal, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that the concept of an actual cocktail party evolved.

Concocting cocktails was an after effect of Prohibition. The fruity mixes disguised bad tasting bootleg liquor, and combined with getting caught running liquor, these new little concoctions meant that intimate soirees came to rule the day.

Later, after World War II, houses were being built by the thousands, side by side, with yards, pools and patios. Newly marrieds, and parents of Boomers, created a new society in bedroom communities across the land.

With the mass exodus to the burbs, couples were left to their own devices. Clubs, bars and restaurants were left far behind in the cities they abandoned for suburban life. And just like that, cocktail party life made the suburbs tolerable. Boomers got a good look at how parties were done, some kids even made cocktails for their parents, think “Drapers”.

Moulin Rouge Tumblers by Fran Taylor, Gay Fad’s founder, Lancaster, Ohio

Because entertaining at home became a trend that took the burb masses by storm, the art of cocktailing and hosting became a thing. And of course … keeping up with the Jonses was real, my friend. So, everyone went shopping downtown to buy the coolest in entertainment gear to be had.

Designers and manufacturers got on the money making bandwagon and produced a spectrum of killer barware to accommodate the masses. Great design. Made in the USA. Good times.

Parents died, Boomers grew up and old, some of the abandoned rec rooms still have the decanters, glasses, ice buckets, all lined up even after the party became just a happy memory. So, every now and then some of the “good stuff” surfaces, and it’s fun to envision the cocktail party that will continue in great iconic style, 70 years or so later.

T’ang Pattern Designed for Rubel, by 50s Designer Fred Press

The glasses in the genre shown here were designed for middle America, the high brow cocktail parties among old money and the nouveau riche were decadently gorgeous which included makers like Tiffany, Norman Bel Geddes, Hermes and Gucci. Finding these works of art are as elusive today as in their hey day. But at the end of the day, aren’t we always on the hunt for the Holy Grail? One never knows. So stay tuned, and stay classy.

And if any of this sounds intriguing at all, there may be something in my Etsy world that will fit you just perfectly, come see!


Yours truly,


All rights reserved . Author Jolie Baeztel


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