How it's Done at
the Astor House
by Jonathan F.
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 detestable stuff, 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 swallowingthree 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 Kentuckydaddies 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
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 ittwo 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
Look a here, mister, says one of the business men, got eny more
uv that wine?
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 slightly knew:
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 drinkbe thunder!
In the midst of their enthusiasm, the clerk observed it was of no
importance just thenthe bill would be presented when they got
through. This was satisfactory, and the party went on finishing their
wine, smoking, &c.
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
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, landlordor 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 cigarsseven 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.