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Friday, December 4, 2015

Christopher Morley's Manhattan Report

A well-traveled friend of mine has the delightful habit of sending me a "Manhattan Report" by postcard from wherever he is. For example, he paid $21 for a very well mixed and generous Jim Beam Manhattan at the Hotel Cicerone in Rome last summer.

In 1930, Christopher Morley paid (or at least could have paid) 21 cents for Manhattan. A martini cost the same, an Old-Fashioned 25 cents, a whiskey sour 37 cents. And this was on a Cunard Line ship heading to England! Hence the term "good old days."

Morley's account of bar prices aboard ship appears in his "Clinical Notes by a Resident Patient" column in the July 1946 issue of the Baker Street Journal. Morley reported in the column that he wrote his famous introduction to the Doubleday Compete Sherlock Holmes - arguably the greatest introduction to any Holmes volume - on July 25, 1930, was paid on July 30, and sailed for Baker Street on the proceeds two nights later.

The rest of the column is equally interesting, for in it Morley recounts the early days of the Baker Street Irregulars, which he founded. If you don't happen to own that issue of the BSJ, or the eBSJ, you can also find the column in The Standard Doyle Company (p. 274), edited by Steven Rothman, and in Sherlock Holmes By Gas-Lamp, edited by Philip A. Schreffler (p.379).