Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

The Old-Time Saloon

Not Wet - Not Dry, Just History

Introduced and Annotated by Bill Savage
Fancy a tipple? Then pull up a stool, raise a glass, and dip into this delightful paean to the grand old saloon days of yore. Written by Chicago-based journalist, playwright, and all-round wit George Ade in the waning years of Prohibition, The Old-Time Saloon is both a work of propaganda masquerading as “just history” and a hilarious exercise in nostalgia. Featuring original, vintage illustrations along with a new introduction and notes from Bill Savage, Ade's book takes us back to the long-gone men’s clubs of earlier days, when beer was a nickel, the pretzels were polished, and the sardines were free.

224 pages | 4 halftones, 8 line drawings | 5 x 7-3/8 | © 2016

Food and Gastronomy

History: American History, Urban History

Literature and Literary Criticism: Humor

Reviews

“Undersized but never puny, . . . great for carrying in your pocket or purse, at the ready when you need escape or inspiration. . . . Here’s a gem for gentlemen and gentlewomen who enjoy a tipple.”

Sarah Murdoch | Toronto Star

“[One of the] 'Books we can’t wait to read: The back half of 2016 edition.' . . . In the early twentieth century, Ade was one of the funniest newspapermen in Chicago. In The Old-Time Saloon, originally published in the depths of Prohibition, he looks back with great nostalgia on the glory days of the nineteenth-century saloon.”

Aimee Levitt and Tal Rosenberg | Chicago Reader

“[One of] '21 Chicago-Themed Gifts That Your Friends & Family Will Actually Like.' . . . This book is a re-release of Chicago writer George Ade's infamous, heartfelt paean to tavern culture of the 1800s, written during the twilight of Prohibition, with a new introduction by his modern-day drinker-wit Bill Savage. A great call for the historical-minded tippler on your list.”

Chicagoist

“Do you have a favorite bar? Perhaps a tavern? Maybe a lounge with some cozy comforts? Humans have gathered close for a libation or three for millennia and many wonderful conversations have ensued as a result. George Ade, noted Chicago journalist, wrote about his own experiences with such gathering places in his 1931 book The Old-Time Saloon. Recently, the University of Chicago Press reissued this delightful tome with thoughtful annotations from Chicago’s own Bill Savage.”

Max Grinnell | The Urbanologist

“A staff favourite food book for 2016. . . . Originally published in 1931 and republished this year with modern footnotes and annotations, this book looks at The Noble Experiment of Prohibition in America during what would be its waning years before repeal. Ade delivers in personal detail his thoughts on the role of the saloon in turn-of-the-century America, and the efforts by ‘drys’ and ‘wets’ alike to use the saloon to justify their stance on Prohibition.”

Chip Walton, associate digital producer | Splendid Table

"It is easy to forget . . . the passions provoked in those days by the issue of temperance and 'strong drink.' . . . An amusing period piece by a writer who could be very, very funny."

Chronicles

“Ade writes the present little volume as an expert to inform the young of the sin and wickedness they missed by being born too late.”

New York Times

“Ade amuses with his dry humor on a wet topic. . . . The book discusses every phase of the saloon and every type of saloon, from the ornate and opulent place, like the Waldorf or the Knickerbocker, to the dive on the corner and the old-fashioned roadhouse.”

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

“Much about nineteenth-century saloons may have been sordid and squalid, but Ade knew how to find their charm, even their joy. He’s a wonderful reading companion—and I bet he would have been pretty great to drink with, too.”

Daniel Okrent, author of "Last Call"

“Ade was an American humorist who wrote literature for daily newspapers, back when such a thing could be imagined. He wrote vividly about the middle of the country when it was up-and-coming, expectedly dowdy and unexpectedly modern—he stands right between Booth Tarkington and Ring Lardner. And Ade did more for capitalization than anybody since Swift. . . . He was poet laureate of the live ones, and a distant ancestor of Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

Luc Sante | HiLobrow

Table of Contents

1. THE SNAKE

2. DISCUSSING WICKEDNESS

3. WHAT WAS A SALOON-AND WHY?

4. THE FREE LUNCH

5. WHAT THEY DRANK

6. WHY PEOPLE BEHAVE SO

7. LOW COST OF HIGH-ROLLING

8. THE BAR-KEEP

9. THE REGULARS

10. SENTIMENT-TRADITIONS

11. SONG AND STORY

12. WHY SO MANY

13. THE TALK

14. EXPLAINING SOME MYSTERIES

15. "DIDN'T HE RAMBLE?"

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press