National Grandparents Day: My Grandfather Was A Bartender

Grandparents know all kinds of things. Your editor wonders about the secrets her grandfather might have shared about vintage cocktails.

Grandparents frequently are the keepers of precious family memories, legends and recipes. 

With National Grandparents Day on Sept. 9, we have a chance to remember those who have passed and share with those still with us.

As if in preview, I found myself thinking about my grandfather last Saturday.

I was savoring an artisanal cocktail at Silver Lake's .

Andrew Trauth, the beverage director, was telling me about the efforts of current mixologists to re-create cocktails with rye and other distillations dating from before Prohibition.

From there it was an easy next step to my grandfather: "Charlie Chick" Cicchino.

He was a pretty famous bartender, as bartenders go.

He mixed it up before, during and after Prohibition at supper clubs and restaurants in Newark, New Jersey, and New York City.

Family legend has he even consulted in the design of Rockefeller Center's legendary Rainbow Room, where I'm told the retro-cocktail movement began in the 1980s.

I know he'd have a recipe or two to share, perhaps for a retro brown liquor drink like those being reconstructed today.

Unfortunately, my grandfather never left any records of his work or his mixes as far as I know.

And I never had a chance to meet him.

He died young, still in his 40s, leaving my grandmother, my dad and his five brothers to muddle through.

They did in grand style, becoming professors, doctors, deans and club owners.

But none of them were drinkers--and certainly not cocktail makers--which I always found quite interesting.

TELL US: What is something you and your family would like to share with future generations? How do you remember your grandparents? What kind of history or legends did they pass on to you? Document it by telling us in the comments below. 


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