Hugo Richard Ensslin, became the esteemed bartender at the Wallick Hotel in New York City and the author of the influential cocktail book, Recipes for Mixed Drinks. It was self-published in his house in Harlem, the first edition appeared in 1916, the second followed in 1917.
This was a book that would become New York’s last published bartending guide before American Prohibition. It included the Aviation Cocktail for the first time in print – using El-Bart Gin - as well as new ingredients of the day like Grenadine, Applejack and Triple Sec.
The aim of the book is – as we are told at the beginning - was to give a complete list of the standard mixed drinks that were in use at the time in New York City.
Imbibe magazine lists Ensslin among the 25 most important bartenders.
Hugo R Ensslin was born in February 1879 in Germany, the son of Elisa and Hugo Snr. Before his journey to America, Ensslin was an apprentice painter and photographer, which laid the foundation for his creative skill set. At 16 He left for America unaccompanied, with only a single suitcase.
Ensslin lived at 2013 Fifth Avenue in Harlem for many years. He worked primarily as a cashier, and later travelled to Ohio and then back to Germany.
After a few years he returned to New York and married Margaret J Quigley on July 2, 1907, in Manhattan. They had one child during their marriage, Homer.
Ensslin was unimpressed with the country of his birth, when the USA entered the First World War did not hesitate to enlist to help defeat Germany.
Hugo acquired a great deal of notoriety during his time working for the Wallick Brothers and was a great proponent of El-Bart Gin whose offices were close by in New York.
Hugo died on January 2, 1929, in Luzerne, Pennsylvania, at the age of 49.
His book was republished and in 2011 The Washington Post referred to it as “a gem”…
The El-Bart Gin Company is proud to curate Hugo Ensslin’s contribution to the world of cocktails.