How It's Done At The Astor House
People often wonder how a man can manage to drink up his salary in
liquor, provided it is sufficient to buy a gallon of the very best
ardent every day in the year. How a fortune can be drank up, or drank
down, by the possessor, is still a greater poser to the unsophisticated.
Now, to be sure, a man who confines himself, in his potations, to
fourpenny drinks of small beer, Columbian whiskey, or even that
, by courtesy or custom called French brandy,--which,
in fact, is generally aquafortis, corrosive sublimate, cochineal,
logwood, and whiskey,--and don't happen to know too many drouthy
cronies, may make a very long lane of it; but it's the easiest thing in
the world to swallow a snug salary, income, mortgages, live stock, and
real estate, when you know how it's done.
Managing a theatre, publishing a newspaper, or keeping trained dogs or
trotting horses, don't hardly begin to phlebotomize purse and
reputation, like drinking.
"Doctor," said a gay Southern blood, to a famed "tooth doctor," "look
into my mouth."
"I can't see any thing there, sir," says the tooth puller.
"Can't? Well, that's deuced strange. Why, sir, look again; you see
"Why, sir," says the young planter, "it's most astonishing, for I've
just finished swallowing--three hundred negroes and two cotton
Four young bucks met, some years ago, in a fashionable drinking saloon
in Cincinnati. It was one of the most elegant drinking establishments in
that part of the country. The young chaps belonged over in
Kentucky--daddies rich, and they didn't care a snap! says they, let's
have a spree! The "sham" came in, and they went at it; giving that a
fair trial, they took a turn at sherry, hock, and a sample of all the
most expensive stuffs the proprietors had on hand. Getting fuddled, they
got uproarious; they kicked over the tables and knocked down the
waiters. The landlord, not exactly appreciating that sort of "going on,"
remonstrated, and was met by an array of pistols and knives. Mad and
furious, the young chaps made a general onslaught on the people present,
who "dug out" very quick, leaving the bacchanalians to their glory;
whereupon, they fell to and fired their pistols into the mirrors,
paintings, chandeliers, &c. Of course the watchmen came in, about the
time the young gentlemen finished their youthful indiscretions, and
after the usual battering and banging of the now almost inanimate bodies
of the quartette, landed them in the calaboose. Next day they settled
their bills, and it cost them about $2200! It was rather an expensive
lesson, but it's altogether probable that they haven't forgotten a
letter of it yet.
A small party of country merchants, traders, &c., were cruising around
New York, one evening, seeing the lions, and their cicerone,--by the
way, a "native" who knew what was what,--took them up Broadway, and as
they passed the Astor House, says one of the strangers:
"Smith, what's this thunderin' big house?"
"O, ah, yes, this," says the cicerone, Smith, "this, boys, is a great
tavern, fine place to get a drink."
"Well, be hooky, let's all go in."
In they all went; taking a private room or small side parlor, the
country gents requested Smith to do the talking and order in the liquor.
Smith called for a bill of fare, upon which are "invoiced" more "sorts"
and harder named wines and liquors than could be committed to memory
in a week.
"That's it," says Smith, marking a bill of fare, and handing it to the
servant, "that's it--two bottles, bring 'em up."
Up came the wine; it was, of course, elegant. The country gents froze to
it. They had never tasted such stuff before, in all their born days!
"Look a here, mister," says one of the "business men," "got eny more uv
"O, yes, sir!" says the servant.
"Well, fetch it in."
"Two bottles, sir?"
"Two ganders! No, bring in six bottles!--I can go two on 'em myself,"
says the country gent.
The servant delivered his message at the bar, and after a few grimaces
and whispering, the servant and one of the bar-keepers, or clerks,
carried up the wine. Says the clerk, whispering to Smith, whom he
"Smith, do you know the price of this wine?"
"Certainly I do," says Smith; "here it's invoiced on the catalogue,
"O, very well," says the clerk, about to withdraw.
"Hold on!" says one of the merry country gents, "don't snake your
handsome countenance off so quick; do yer want us to fork rite up fur
these drinks?" hauling out his wallet.
"No, yer don't," says another, hauling out his change.
"My treat, if you please, boys," says the third, pulling out a handful
of small change. "I asked the party in, an' I pay for what licker we
In the midst of their enthusiasm, the clerk observed it was of no
importance just then--the bill would be presented when they got through.
This was satisfactory, and the party went on finishing their wine,
"S'pose we have some rale sham-paigne, boys?" says one of the gents,
beginning to feel his oats, some!
"Agreed!" says the rest. Two bottles of the best "sham" in "the
tavern" were called for, and which the party drank with great gusto.
"Now," says one of them, "let's go to the the-ater, or some other place
where there's a show goin' on. Here, you, mister,"--to the servant,--"go
fetch in the landlord."
"The landlord, sur?" says Pat, the servant, in some doubts as to the
meaning of the phrase.
"Ay, landlord--or that chap that was in here just now; tell him to fetch
in the bill. Ah, here you are, old feller; well, what's the damages?"
asks the gent, so ambitious of putting the party through, and hauling
out a handful of keys, silver and coppers, to do it with.
"Eight bottles of that old flim-flam-di-rip-rap," pronouncing one of
those fancy gamboge titles found upon an Astor House catalogue,
"What?" gasped the country gent, gathering up his small change, that he
had began to sort out on the table.
"And two bottles of 'Shreider,' and cigars--seven dollars," coolly
continued the bar-clerk; "one hundred and three dollars."
"A hundred and three thunder--"
"A HUNDRED AND THREE DOLLARS!" cried the country gents, in one breath,
all starting to their feet, and putting on their hats.
The clerk explained it, clear as mud; the trio "spudged up" the amount,
looked very sober, and walked out.
"Come, boys," said Smith, "let's go to the theatre."
"Guess not," says "the boys." "B'lieve we'll go home for to-night, Mr.
Smith." And they made for their lodgings.
If those country gents were asked, when they got home, any particulars
about the "elephant," they'd probably hint something about getting a
glimpse of him at the Astor House.