Friday Night: Cocktails on the Queen Mary

Let’s take a trip back in time. It’s May 1961 and you have decided to cross the Atlantic from Southampton to New York on the Queen Mary. Forget being crammed into one of those poky little jets that are starting to fill the sky, you’ve got enough time and money to do the thing in style. It’s six o’ clock on a Friday night, your first day out at sea, and you have just settled into the cocktail lounge and clicked your fingers at the waiter. LSS has the document to take you right there.

It’s the Queen Mary cocktail menu from May 1961. Have a look at the top left photo, because the design stands at a unique point in time. The stuffy, formal fifties are just starting to give way to the more fun sixties (although the colours and layout are still a bit Festival of Britain). That said, let’s open up and go inside. The first thing to surprise is that all the prices are in shillings and pence! A courvoisier brandy will set you back 2/3d. A Martini will be 3s. To buy a White Lady will cost you 3/3d. This is ten years before decimalisation, but a shilling was about 5p. We suspect that this was the second class cocktail bar, because humbler tastes and pockets are catered for as well. A bottle of Worthington or Bass ale was a snip at 1/2d; thrifty Scots could knock back a McEwans for 1s; the future lay in lagers like Carlsberg and Tuborg at 1/3 a bottle.

But the biggest shock of all is the casual way that cigars, cigarrettes and tobaccos were hawked around without a care in the world. We think this bar must have been as smoky as the three glorious funnels towering over the ship.What was it like to sit next to a huge American puffing away on a 4s hand made Havana, the best for sale on the ship? What music was playing? Who else were you sitting near to, and what did they talk about? Mr Kennedy? Tottenham Hotspurs? IBM computers?

Well now the Queen Mary sits immobile in Long Beach, Ca. All regular transit services are in the air now, and cruising is not really the same. But the great liners marked a certain point in style and elegance, and what’s the harm in us cocktail sailors indulging in a little nostalgia on a Friday Night?

#cunard #queenmary #cocktails #poundsshillingspence #smoking #liners

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