swizzle swag

by Art Chantry ( art@artchantry.com)

Tales from the invisible republic. The new old-weird America…

about 20 years ago, i worked on my first swizzle stick project. my client/pal dave crider at estrus records decided he wanted swizzle stick to go with his boxed 45 collection called “the cocktail companion”. dave loved swag and always came up with some silly thing to toss into a release package. (he also included coasters, i think). so, suddenly i was introduced into the world of the swizzle.

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for those who don’t know, a ‘swizzle stick’ refers to one of those little plastic sticks they stab into your cocktail. it usually has advertising on it. these days it ‘s mostly liquor brand advertising. but, back in them days of old, they were really elaborate beautiful designs promoting the club where you were drinking. they could be any color of the rainbow and sometimes they were opaque and sometimes transparent, sometimes metal or wood. it was one of those strange little niches of american advertising that flourished with cheap production and then vanished as plastic and labor became expensive (sort of like matchbook art/advertising). however, with all that slave labor we gobble up in places like china, the swizzle stick may make a comeback soon, who knows?

when dave and i were researching how to get a swizzle stick made, we found that most of the manufacturers had moved on and stopped making them. however, many still had the original stock molds for them on premises. we wanted to make a “nudie” swizzle (an extremely popular motif back in them bachelorhood days of the post war era.) sadly, at the one company that did most of the nudie stuff, a religiously inclined owner had decided they were immoral and sinful and had all the nudie molds destroyed. that sort of thing happens a lot out there. a lot of amazing pop culture has been lost to religiosity in this country. you’d be amazed at the decisions these people make on your behalf!

anyway, so we ended up with a rather boring swizzle with a simple logo printed on a disc at the end. seems that is what the wonders of the swizz has boiled down to.

this here is one of my favorite swizzle sticks that i’ve saved over the years. it’s from trader vic’s (of course) – and outfit that spared no expense when it came to KLASS! this thing is longer, heavier and more elaborately designed than any other swizzle in my collection. it weighs a ton! and it’s embossed on all sides! it’s literally a tiki outrigger paddle to STIR YOUR COCKTAIL! really now, you have to admit that’s a genius concept! it’s almost as good as those macdonald’s coffee swizzle sticks with tiny little spoons at the end that were so popular among the low rent cocaine crowd in the 70′s!

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