A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 22, 2004
Croton cocktail, highball (Croton Aqueduct water)
"Croton cocktail" is a term for "water" that allegedly dates back to October 1842 and the opening of the Croton reservoir. Lemon was reportedly added to the water for the cocktail.

"Highball" is a term of the 1890s, and "Croton highball" was also used. Baseball pitcher Arthur Raymond threw spitters, and the wet pitches were sometimes called "Croton highballs."

The New York City water supply system expanded and "Croton cocktail" is not used today.

The Unforgettable Season
by G. H. Fleming
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
New York: Simon & Schuster
Pg. 122: Croton cocktails and cow juice is my limit.
(The book is about the 1908 Cubs, Giants, and Pirates race for the baseball pennant. The quotation is from 1908. The speaker was using slang for "water" and "milk" - ed.)

23 May 1911, New York Times, pg. 9:
Arthur Raymond, the well-known inventor of the Croton highball, baffled the Pirate batsmen with an assortment of wet and dry tosses which failed to drop into spots of safety after they bounded from the lumber.

22 March 1948, New York Times, pg. 25:
"Catskill water, brought from ninety miles upstate, will run through the exhibit. If visitors get thirsty we will serve them 'Delaware Delights' and 'Croton Cocktails.'"

31 August 1948, New York Times, pg. 16:
"Croton Cocktail" Popular

Most popular of the exhibits was the Rip Van Winkle water supply company where thirsty visitors stopped for a "Croton Cocktail" - plain city water.

22 October 1989, New York Times, pg. WC1:
WHEN it opened on July 4, 1842, Manhattan bar owners offered their patrons a free Croton Cocktail, a glass of pure water to celebrate the completion of the country's longest aqueduct and New York City's first water-supply system.

30 May 1993, New York Times, pg. WC15:
When the aqueduct water first arrived in the city, the exhibition explains, festive crowds gathered, mixed the water with lemonade and invented the Croton Cocktail.

8 October 1995, New York Times, pg. WC4:
IN October 1842, the opening of the Croton Aqueduct was cause for great celebration in New York City. Badly needed water was now flowing 26 miles from the town of Cortlandt through an underground pipe to a city that has been unable to extinguish its fires properly or maintain sanitary conditions.

And, as is common with big events, the public relations people were out in force: the gala featured the performance of a jingle especially written about the aqueduct and drinks called Croton highballs - lemon juice and freshly piped-in Croton water.
(Note: This is an anachronism. The word "highball" was actually not used until the 1890s - ed.)

4 April 1999, New York Times, pg. WE1:
"New York's drinking water used to be hailed as the finest in the world," Town Supervisor Linda G, Cooper said recently. "Folks used to call it a Croton cocktail, but lately it has been having its ups and downs."
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New York CityFood/Drink • Wednesday, December 22, 2004 • Permalink

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