This month, VinePair is exploring how drinks pros are taking on old trends with modern innovations. In Old Skills, New Tricks, we examine contemporary approaches to classic cocktails and clever techniques behind the bar — plus convention-breaking practices in wine, beer, whiskey, and more.
Astrology has served as a topic of conversation long before the Costar App or any other digital horoscope reading. During the 1960s and early ‘70s, the zodiac even inspired social gatherings in the form of cocktail parties and happy hours.
For the white, middle-class Americans who moved to America’s flourishing suburbs during these decades, disposable income and private space lent themselves to new opportunities for entertainment.
Such is evident in the 1971 vintage “Happy Hour Mixology” catalog, which offered readers an exciting take on the cocktail party, using astrology to inspire drinks and discussion. Attendees could learn about their element signs (fire, earth, air, and water), ruling planets, and lucky numbers while drinking their favorite cocktails.
“When happy hour talk turns to astrology, this guide’s brief summary will spark your conversation … and help you know what enthusiasts are talking about,” an introduction to the catalog reads. “In fact, it will help you have the greatest happy hour party ever.”
Much like any astrology guide today, the catalog allows readers to discover their zodiacs, ruling planets, and element signs. Using these “different potential characteristics,” “Happy Hour Mixology” offers hosts the perfect drinks to concoct for guests, based entirely on their zodiac signs.
So while a Honolulu Cooler (made with Southern Comfort, lime juice, and pineapple juice) might be “poured for Pisces,” a Margarita should be “mixed for Cancer’s moon-children.” The catalog offers simple recipes for classic drinks like the Dry Martini (“Terrific for Tauruses”) to the Grasshopper, a signature cocktail from the era.
The 1960s were often referred to as the “Age of Aquarius,” a term used to define the start of a new cultural era. As such, Comfort on the Rocks, which calls for Southern Comfort poured over cracked ice, is dedicated to the “sign and age of Aquarius.”
For each cocktail listed, an alternative recipe is provided that uses Southern Comfort (a whiskey that’s not quite a whiskey and more like a liqueur with a complicated history), whose parent brand, Southern Comfort Corp., also owned the catalog. “Try [Southern Comfort] in your favorite drink,” the catalog states. “Like Manhattan? Make both recipes shown at right. Compare them. One sip will convince you!”
To tie the astrology party all together, Southern Comfort ends the catalog with a special offer on Steamboat Glassware with prices ranging from 75 cents to $3.95. But “Happy Hour Mixology” didn’t just sell its readers glassware or liqueur; it sold an experience that’s “out of this world.”
Hoping to plan a ‘70s-inspired astrology party of your own? Try mixing up these celestial concoctions for your guests.
“Heavenly Drinks for a Happy Hour Under Any Zodiac Sign”
A Bloody Mary “Red and Right for Aries”
Ingredients: 2 “jiggers” tomato juice, 1½ ounces vodka, ¼ ounce fresh lemon juice, dash of Worcestershire sauce
A Dry Martini “Terrific for Tauruses”
Ingredients: 4 parts gin or vodka, 1 part dry vermouth
The Gimlet that’s a “Perfect Gem for Gemini”
Ingredients: 4 parts gin or vodka, 1 part Rose’s sweetened lime juice
A Margarita “Mixed for Cancer’s Moon-Children”
Ingredients: 1½ ounce tequila, ½ ounce triple sec, 1 ounce fresh lemon or lime juice
A Tom Collins “Lionized by Leos and Sun-Lovers”
Ingredients: 1½ ounces Southern Comfort, ¼ ounce lime juice, 7Up
A Cold Toddy “Valued by Virgos”
Ingredients: ¼ teaspoon sugar, 1 ounce water, 2 ounces Scotch or bourbon
A Lemon Cooler “Lucky for Libras”
Ingredients: 1½ ounces Southern Comfort, Schweppes Bitter Lemon
The Stinger is a “Salute to Scorpio”
Ingredients: 1½ ounces brandy, ½ ounce white crème de menthe
The Rob Roy “On Target for Sagittarians”
Ingredients: 1½ ounces Scotch, ¼ ounce sweet vermouth, dash Angostura bitters
The Daiquiri is a “Tropical Cheer for Capricorn”
Ingredients: ½ ounce lime juice, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1½ ounces light rum
Comfort on the Rocks “For the Sign and Age of Aquarius”
Ingredients: 1½ ounces Southern Comfort, ice
A Honolulu Cooler “Poured for Pisces”
Ingredients: 1½ ounces Southern Comfort, ¼ lime juice, Hawaiian pineapple juice