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The socio-cultural history of the Pousse Café. Part 7: Chasse Café

Chasse Cafe Titelbild.

Having turned our attention to sugar and liqueur consumption, we now come to the French origins of the Pousse Café, which was initially called Chasse Café. What is there to say about it?

Let us now turn to the central theme of this series, the Chasse Café, which later became the Pousse Café. We have tried to summarize a few sources, but those that offer us an insight into the customs of the past and give us a sense of how important the Chasse Café was in the social fabric will be quoted individually. It may seem like too much of a good thing, but this is the only way to really get a sense of the importance of the Chasse Café.

What is a chasse café?

Literally translated, a chasse café is a coffee chaser, a small glass of a spirit or liqueur that was usually served after a meal and then with [9-lviii] or after coffee, [8-16] [17-150] [19-389] [19-390] which was also drunk quickly and in one go. [18-42] [31] It was an alcoholic drink, [17-150] and could be an eau de vie, [1-592] [18-42] [31] a white [25-39] or old brandy [8-16] or cognac, [30-207] or even a rhum, as the description “a chasse-café from Martinique” suggests. [9-lviii] However, it could also be a liqueur such as maraschino, [6-362] [15-392] [21-299] [22-42] [22-43] [23-232] [30-207] noyeau, [13-58] curaçao, [21-299] [22-42] [22-43] [24-1] [28-235] [30-207] chartreuse, [28-235] [30-207] anisette, [21-299] cherry-bounce, [21-299] parfait-amour, [3-272] [22-42] [22-43] eau de vie de Danzig, [25-39] ratefie de Grenoble [25-39] or in general “one of those hundred and one varieties of ‘Chasse Cafe’ for whose production the French are so deservedly famous”, [15-392] i.e. in general probably one of the numerous liqueurs.

Spirit of the Times, 3. January 1852, page 1.
Spirit of the Times, 3. January 1852, page 1.[24-1]

The oldest reference to the fact that liqueurs were also layered dates back to 1851: “If you want the best possible chasse cafe, fill your liqueur glass two-thirds with Curacoa, and then crown it with kirsch. Probatum est.” [24-1]

The instruction to use a mixture of one third absinthe and two thirds Maraschino de Zara for a Chasse Café dates back to 1860. [27-145]

The socio-cultural background of the Chasse Café

The Chasse Café is a spirit, a schnapps or liqueur that was usually served after a meal with or after a coffee. This custom seems to have existed in France even before the Chasse Café got its name. The following story is an example:

The writer Jean-François Marmontel was imprisoned in the Bastille from December 28, 1759 to January 7, 1760. [38] Other sources speak of 11 days in 1758. [39] It is reported that on the first day of his imprisonment he was given tasty cod and beans. However, this meal was not intended for him, but for his servant. Instead, he and the other imprisoned gentlemen were served soup, boiled beef, truffled capon, spinach, fried artichokes and pears with Roquefort cheese, together with an old Burgundy from the Nuit-St.-Georges vineyard, followed by coffee with various brandies and liqueurs. [37]

As early as the mid-18th century, it was common for those who could afford it to enjoy coffee and liqueur after a meal. The term Chasse Café may already have been in use. However, we were first able to find evidence of it in the 1770s: In 1770, Maurice Margarot embarked on a five-year journey. [45-3] He reached the old Catalan bishop’s town of Tortosa on the Ebro on June 28, probably in 1772 [44-65] [45-441] [47] was received most politely by the governor, and the author recalls: “After his absence, we were taken to another apartment, where we were served coffee and then chasse caffé; all the gentlemen continued their courtesies;[44-67]

Maurice Margarot: Histoire, ou relation d’un voyage. Tome II. 1780, page 67.
Maurice Margarot: Histoire, ou relation d’un voyage. Tome II. 1780, page 67. [44-67]

– »aprés son absence nous sumes introduits dans un autre Appartement, où l’on nous servit le Caffé & ensuite le Chasse Caffé; tous ces Messieurs continüerent leur politesses;« [44-67]

Henry Angelo: Reminiscences of Henry Angelo. Vol. II. 1830, page 361-362.
Henry Angelo: Reminiscences of Henry Angelo. Vol. II. 1830, page 361-362. [6-361] [6-362]

The next mention dates from 1775, when Henry Angelo reports on his time in Paris in his memoirs. His notes show that he was there several times. The first time was between 1772 and 1775, when he went to Paris to train as a fencing master with Monsieur Monet. The latter was regarded as the most important living fencing master on the continent. [7] Henry Angelo writes: “At Paris, the Cafe Conti, at the end of Pont Neuf, the corner of the Rue Dauphin, was considered as the English coffee-house. It was frequented by English, Scotch, and Irish: many of them were very ready to become your acquaintance, and, soon afterwards, to offer you their services. If they found they had got hold of a novice, they did not fail to borrow money of him. There I learnt to play at Polish draughts, and I certainly paid dear for my instruction. Although I never played for money, my losses were heavy, considering I did not exceed coffee, or liqueurs; however, I soon learnt enough of the game to beat the English who frequented the place afterwards. The fencing-school I attended began at six in the evening, and previous, I always found some novice willing to play with me. There were plenty of English, who fancied themselves superior to me at the game, and would have played for money; but I contented myself with the indulgence of coffee, and the dearest chasse cafe, Marasquino ›chacun a son tour.‹ “ [6-361] [6-362]

So we can see that by 1775, the Chasse Café was already widely known in Paris and enjoyed in coffee houses. But it was also drunk outside the coffee houses:

On June 6, 1791, on the occasion of the appointment of the Bishop of the Département de la Meurthe, the people of Nancy were invited for coffee and liqueur. The Mercure National reports on this event on June 12: “On the same day, the National Guard gave a sumptuous dinner in the town hall for those of Toul (out of mutual courtesy, which received them there), and for the other units of the neighboring villages. It was laid out for 600 people. At 5 o’clock in the evening, M. the Bishop returned to the Episcopal Church, where he sang the evening Mass and then the Te Deum. At the end of the ceremony, which was attended by our National Guard, they had the tables laid around the Place d’Alliance, where all spectators were invited to drink liqueur and coffee. At ten o’clock in the evening, a magnificent fireworks display was held in the Pépinière, which attracted an innumerable crowd of spectators.[34-175] [35]

Mercure national, 12. June 1791, S. 904.
Mercure national, 12. June 1791, S. 904. [34-175] [35]

Le même jour notre garde nationale a donné à celle de Toul (par réciprodité des politesses qu’elle y avoit reçues), et aux autres détachemens des villes voisines, un diner splendide à l’hotel-de-ville. Le couvert étoit de 600 personnes. A 5 heures du soir, M. l’évêque s’est rendu à l’eglise épiscopale, où il a chanté les vèpres et ensuite le Te Deum. A la sortie de cette cérémonie, à laquelle notre garde nationale a assisté, elle a fait dresser des tables autour de la place d’alliance, ou tons les spectateurs étoient invités à aller prendre du café et des liqueurs. Sur les dix heures du soir, on a tiré un superbe feu d’artifice à la Pépiniere, qui attiré un concours inombrable de spectateurs.[34-175] [35]

George L. Craig & Charles Mac Farlane: The pictorial history of England during the reign of George the Third. Vol. 3. 1843, page 164.
George L. Craig & Charles Mac Farlane: The pictorial history of England during the reign of George the Third. Vol. 3. 1843, page 164. [16-164]

The year 1792 and the French Revolution are reported on: “Business was then suspended in order that the deputies might have time to dine; – for men dined in the midst of all these atrocities, sipped their coffee and their chasse-café while the streets of Paris were running with blood; and the graceful and gracious Madame Roland was giving her dinner, parties and displaying such wit as she had, and turning fine phrases in her hôtel du ministère all the while — at least she gave her usual five o’clock dinner to her husband’s colleagues in office and the select members of the Gironde on this very day, the 3rd of September, entertaining entertaining, as have seen, the madman Anacharsis Cloozt, who then and there undertook to prove that the massacres in progress were indispensable and salutary.” [16-164]

But the Chasse Café was not only drunk in France. It was also drunk in Hamburg by 1792 at the latest. In 1792 Friedrich Wilhelm Basilius von Ramdohr wrote: “I can say nothing in general about the social tone in Hamburg. The city has 120000 inhabitants and, together with Altona, makes up a whole in terms of social relations. Rank and birth do not draw sharp lines around the people who are supposed to belong to a circle. Free choice or individual circumstances of each connect those who belong to each other. This must have the consequence of producing different cotteries, which differ greatly from each other in the choice of their entertainment and the tone that prevails between them. A Hollsteinian lady, of great spirit and very pickant conversation, whom I met in Copenhagen, tried to convince me that in some of these societies the enjoyment of life consisted in the enjoyment of food and drink. I wished to be able to reproduce the description she gave of these dining gatherings in her own words and in her inimitable manner. ‘They gather in the morning, she said, at a country house outside Hamburg, and the guests are welcomed with coffee, chocolate, large biscuits and cakes. This is immediately followed by a dejeuner ambigu, which lasts until halfway through the day so as not to go hungry. Shortly before lunch, bouillons, liqueurs and other restaurans are presented to give the empty stomach the first support for the enormous undertaking of the lunch table that soon follows. This appears, laden with everything that the different seasons and all four parts of the world and earth and water provide, which the ingenuity of the cooks of all nations has poured out to surprise the most experienced tongue and to give the most disgusting palate new lust. After a sitting of several hours, one rises to facilitate the digestion of the stomach with coffee and chasse-caffé, and to prepare it for the collation, which could take the place of lunch for less experienced and educated eaters. Towards nightfall, restaurants follow again, as before lunch and with the same intention. For the end of this day is crowned in a worthy manner by a most sumptuous, most refined and yet at the same time most substantial souper, in which the most ravenous gullet could find complete satisfaction.’ I leave it entirely up to you to decide what historical fidelity may have been sacrificed in this story to the interest of the lecture. The societies that I have seen do not even give the hint of its truth.” [43-23] [43-24] [43-25]

Friedrich Wilhelm Basilius von Ramdohr: Studien zur Kenntnis der schönen Natur, ... . Erster Theil. 1792, page 23-25.
Friedrich Wilhelm Basilius von Ramdohr: Studien zur Kenntnis der schönen Natur, … . Erster Theil. 1792, page 23-25.[43-23] [43-24] [43-25]

– “Ueber den geselligen ton in Hamburg kann ich nichts im allgemeinen sagen. Die stadt hat 120000 einwohner und macht ausserdem mit Altona in rücksicht auf gesellschaftliche verhältnisse ein ganzes aus. Rang und geburt ziehen hier keine scharfbezeichneten gränzen um die personen herum, die zu einem zirkel gehören sollen. Freie wahl oder individuelle verhältnisse eines jeden verbinden diejenigen, die füreinander gehören. Dies muss die folge haben, dass verschiedene kotterien entstehen, die in rücksicht auf die wahl ihrer Unterhaltung und des tons, der zwischen ihnen herrscht, sehr von einander abweichen.  Eine Hollsteinische dame von grossem geiste und sehr pickanter conversation, die ich in Kopenhagen antraf, wollte mich überzeugen, dass in einigen dieser gesellschaften der genuss des lebens im genuss von speise und trank bestände. Ich wünschte die beschreibung, die sie von diesen esszusammenkünften machte, mit ihren worten und in ihrer unnachahmlichen manier wieder liefern zu können. ›Man versammelt sich, sagte sie ohngefähr, bereits des morgens auf einem landhause vor Hamburg, und die gäste werden mit kaffee, chokolade, grossen zwiebäcken, und kuchen empfangen. Gleich daran schliesst sich ein dejeuner ambigu, mit dem man sich bis an die hälfte des tages hinziet, um nicht zu verschmachten. Kurz vor dem mittagsessen werden bouillons, liqueurs und andere restaurans präsentiert, welche dem leeren magen zu dem ungeheuren unternehmen der bald darauf folgenden mittagstafel die erste unterlage geben sollen. Diese erscheint, beladen mit allem was die verschiedenen jahrszeiten und alle vier welttheile und erd und wasser liefern, was die erfindsamkeit der köche unter allen nationen ausgesonnen hat, um die erfahrenste zunge zu überaschen und dem ekelsten gaumen neue lüsternheit zu geben. Nach einer sitzung von mehreren stunden erhebt man sich um durch kaffee, und chasse-caffé dem magen die verdauung zu erleichtern, und ihn zu der kollation vorzubereiten, welche für weniger geübte und gebildete esser die stelle des mittagsessens vertreten könnte. Gegen die nacht folgen wieder restaurans, wie vor dem mittagsessen und in nemlicher absicht. Denn das ende dieses tages wird durch ein höchst kostbares, höchst feines und doch zugleich höchst substantielles souper, woran der ausgehungertste schlund völlige befriedigung finden könnte, auf eine würdige art gekrönt.‹ Ich lasse es ganz dahin gestellt seyn, was in dieser erzählung an historischer treue dem interesse des vortrags aufgeopfert seyn mag. Die gesellschaften, die ich gesehen habe, geben nicht einmahl die ahndung ihrer wahrheit.[43-23] [43-24] [43-25]

People carried everything they needed with them when traveling. A travel guide from 1794 reports on the “Newest invention for convenient and practical field provisions for officers, also partly designed for travel enthusiasts”: “The bouillon box was intended to contain two measures of bouteilles for wine and liqueur, a lemon slicer, two drinking glasses, a punch spoon, two Solingen cutlery sets, space for two napkins and three dinner plates. The coffee box contained a coffee pot and a chocolate pot next to a filter bag rack, a milk jug, a sugar bowl, a tin for roasted coffee, a measuring spoon, a tin for ground coffee, two porcelain coffee bowls and various small instruments for making coffee.” [40-322]

Im Jahr 1817 wird davon berichtet, daß in Frankreich nicht nur die höheren Stände Chasse Café tranken: »Die Gesellschaft saß nach dem Abendessen noch eine Weile zusammen. Ich rief nach Kaffee. Ich hatte schon oft gehört, wie überlegen die Franzosen in der Zubereitung dieses köstlichen und anregenden, aber nicht berauschenden Getränks waren. Schon bei der ersten Tasse stellte ich fest, daß ihr Ruhm nicht zu Unrecht erworben wurde. Sie machen ihn extrem stark und schwarz. Sie verwenden heiße Milch, was eine Verbesserung zu sein scheint. Der Garçon brachte mir unaufgefordert die übliche Beilage, etwas Chasse Café, also ein kleines Glas eau de vie, im Klartext: Brandy. Diesen wollte ich nicht anrühren. Er war weiß und sah gut aus, aber ich habe seinen Geschmack nicht probiert, und wenn ich ihn probiert hätte, wäre ich kein Richter. Ein kleines Glas kostet eineinhalb Sous oder drei Farthings. Es ist erstaunlich, wie viel davon in Frankreich von Menschen aller Stände getrunken wird, und doch trifft man in diesem Land nur selten einen Trinker.« [1-592] [1-593]

Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 1, 1817, page 592-593.
Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 1, 1817, page 592-593. [1-592] [1-593]

In 1817 it is reported that in France it was not only the upper classes who drank Chasse Café: “The company sat a very short while after dinner. I called for coffee. I had often heard how superior the French were at making this delightful and exhilarating, without intoxicating, beverage. I found, from the first cup, that their fame was not unjustly won. They make it extremely strong and black. They use hot milk, which seems an improvement. The garçon, without being asked, brought me the usual accompaniment, some chasse café, or a small glass of eau de vie; in plain terms, brandy. This I did not choose to touch. It was white, and looked well, but I did not try its flavour; and if I had, I am no judge. A small glass is a sous and a half, or three farthings. It is astonishing how much of this is drank in France by people of all ranks; and yet we seldom meet with a drunkard in that  country.” [1-592] [1-593]

The Chasse Café must have already been generally known outside France. The term was used in 1818 in connection with literature, in a figurative sense, and texts were entitled “Chasse Café after the Desert” (“Chasse Café nach dem Desert”), [2-837] [2-841] just as they were also entitled “Preserved fruits of reading” (“Eingemachte Lesefrüchte“) [2-715] and referred to “the literary-historical Desert” (“dem literärgeschichtlichen Desert”). [2-715]

Auch in den Vereinigten Staaten war der Begriff bekannt. In einer in Washington erschienenen Zeitschrift erschien im Jahr 1819 eine vielleicht doppeldeutige Referenz auf den Chasse Café. Man zitiert aus der New York Evening Post: »Mein Mandant – frei, phantasievoll, lachend und erhaben, wird Tocay und schottischen Whiskey wie Regen ausschenken; Southey wird unsere Geister mit Kaffee ernüchtern, und Horace-in-London wird in Champagner aufblitzen; Tom Campbell wird uns mit rassigem Madeira aufmuntern, verfeinert durch lange Lagerung – reich, prickelnd und rein; und Moore, pour chasse cafe, wird jedem einen lippenbetörenden Stoß von parfait amour geben.« [3-272]

The National Register. Vol. 7. Iss. 17. 1819, page 272.
The National Register. Vol. 7. Iss. 17. 1819, page 272. [3-272]

The term was also known in the United States. A perhaps ambiguous reference to the Chasse Café appeared in a magazine published in Washington in 1819. It was quoted from the New York Evening Post: “My Tennant — free, fanciful, laughing and lofty, Shall pour out tokay and Scotch whiskey like rain; Southey shall sober our spirits with coffee, And Horace-in-London flash up in Champaigne; Tom Campbell shall cheer us with racy Madeira, Refin’d by long-keeping — rich, sparkling, and pure; And Moore, pour chasse cafe, to each one shall bear a Lip-witching bumper of parfait amour.” [3-272]


Nach und nach etablierte sich der Chasse Café als unabdingbar bei gesellschaftlichen Empfängen und Salons. So schrieb etwa im Jahr 1827 Sir Walter Scott in seinen Chronicles of Canongate: [5] »Man konnte sich etwas darauf zu Gute thun zu solchen Gesellschaften und nicht minder, zu den frühen Conversazione geladen zu werden, die sie, trotz der Mode, vermöge des besten Caffees, des schönsten Thees und eines Chasse-Cafés, der die Todten in’s Leben zurückgerufen hätte, dann und wann in ihren schon erwähnten Salon zu der ungewöhnlichen Stunde um acht Uhr des Abends zu versammeln wußte.« [4-97]

(Sir Walter Scott): Chronicles of the Canongate. Vol. 1. 1827, page 124.
(Sir Walter Scott): Chronicles of the Canongate. Vol. 1. 1827, page 124. [29-124]

Gradually, the Chasse Café established itself as indispensable at social receptions and salons. In 1827, for example, Sir Walter Scott wrote in his Chronicles of Canongate: “It was a great thing to be asked to such parties, and not less so to be invited to the early conversazione, which, in spite of fashion, by dint of the best coffee, the finest tea, and chasse café that would have called the dead to life, she contrived now and then to assemble in her saloon already mentioned, at the unnatural hour of eight in the evening.” [4-97] [29-124]

Lady Morgan: France in 1829-1830. Vol. 1. 1830, page 68.
Lady Morgan: France in 1829-1830. Vol. 1. 1830, page 68. [10-68]

Between 1829 and 1830, Lady Morgan traveled to France and wrote: “A dinner party, at Paris, always breaks up with the chasse cafe”. [10-68] [32-153]

In 1834 it was confirmed that the Chasse Café was common in France, but that moderation was practiced without overdoing it with the alcohol: “The Frenchman drinks his demi tasse Café, and then a petit ver or liqueur called Chasse Café – he could do without the Caffe, then he would not need a Chasse Café – but everything is done with moderation”. [12-3]

Carl Julius Weber: Deutschland, oder Briefe eines in Deutschland reisenden Deutschen. 4. Band. 1834, page 3.
Carl Julius Weber: Deutschland, oder Briefe eines in Deutschland reisenden Deutschen. 4. Band. 1834, page 3. [12-3]

– “Der Franzose trinkt seine demi tasse Café, und dann ein petit ver oder liqueur Chasse Cafe genannt — er könnte den Caffe entbehren, dann brauchte er keinen Chasse Café — aber Alles geschieht doch mit Mäßigkeit“. [12-3]

N. P. Willis: Pencillings by the way. Volume 3. 1835, page 181.
N. P. Willis: Pencillings by the way. Volume 3. 1835, page 181. [14-181]

It was also served in the ladies’ salons. In 1835 it is reported that it was drunk after dinner: “Politics are seldom whitty or amusing, and though I was charmed with the good sense and occasional eloquence of Lord J——, I was glad to get up stairs after dinner to chasse-café and the ladies.[14-181]

Anonymus (Hezekiah Hartley Wright): A tour through Germany, Switzerland, and France. 1838, page 297.
Anonymus (Hezekiah Hartley Wright): A tour through Germany, Switzerland, and France. 1838, page 297. [11-297]

In 1838, Paris is written about under the heading “details of a dinner”: “The business of the drama is now over, and by way of epilogue, you toss off a demi-tasse of cafe noir, with its accompanying petit verre de liqueur, which has been appositely termed chasse-cafe, from the peculiar rapidity it usually exhibits in following that aromatic beverage.[11-297]

In 1840, the following is reported from Algiers: “In the meantime, Mr. Schnell had also come to see us and welcomed us most kindly. We went with him to the table in the casino. This is located in a very nice place and is furnished in the style of our club. We found the latest Parisian newspapers, including the Moniteur Algérien. Some of those present passed their time with social games, ecarté and dominoes, the usual games in France; others played billiards. We had a cup of coffee. According to French custom, sugar is poured into a cup, Chinese in shape, up to the rim, then the marqueur pours a stream from the coffee pot over it with a deft hand, so that the saucer is still partly filled with coffee, to the continued annoyance of my countryman from W., who could never make friends with this custom. Le petit verre or Chasse Café is presented on top.[41-140] [41-141]

Moritz von Haacke: Erinnerungen aus einer Reise ... 1840, page 140-141.
Moritz von Haacke: Erinnerungen aus einer Reise … 1840, page 140-141. [41-140] [41-141]

– “Unterdessen war auch Herr Schnell gekommen, um uns aufzusuchen und auf das Freundlichste zu bewillkommen. Wir gingen mit ihm nach Tisch in das Casino. Dieses befindet sich in einem recht schönen Locale, und ist ganz nach Art unserer Clubbe eingerichtet. Wir fanden die neuesten Pariser Zeitungen, auch den Moniteur Algérien. Einige von den Anwesenden brachten ihre Zeit mit gesellschaftlichen Spielen, Ecarté und Domino, den in Frankreich gewöhnlichen Spielen, hin; Andere spielten Billard. Wir tranken eine Tasse Kaffee. Nach französischer Sitte wird in eine Tasse, von chinesischer Form, Zucker bis an den Rand gehäuft, dann gießt der Marqueur mit gewandter Hand einen Strahl aus der Kaffeekanne darüber, so daß die Untertasse, zum fortwährenden Verdrusse meines Landmannes von W., der sich mit dieser Sitte niemals befreunden konnte, noch theilweise mit Kaffee angefüllt wird. Darauf wird le petit verre oder chasse café präsentiert.[41-140] [41-141]

How different the preferences are! It should be mentioned here that for a while it was à la mode to pour the coffee into a saucer and drink it slowly with a raised little finger. [46-10]

Fraser’s Magazine. October 1844, page.
Fraser’s Magazine. October 1844, page. [20-436]

In 1844 it says: “We have already intimated an opinion that the profuse, or indeed the frequent and moderate use of liqueurs is to be deprecated; but we do not mean to aver that, as an agreeable termination to a repast, or as a gentle stimulus, inducing the stomach to perform its functions more kindly, they may not be used with advantage. They should, however, be taken rarely and sparingly, for the particular effect to be looked for is a gentle action of the stomach. The liqueur, whatever its nature, should be taken, as in all foreign countries, as a chasse café, immediately after the small cup of strong coffee, and it should be sipped slowly, and allowed to linger on the palate.[20-436]

The New Mirror. Vol. 2, Iss. 50. 23. March 1844, page 389-390.
The New Mirror. Vol. 2, Iss. 50. 23. March 1844, page 389-390. [19-389] [19-390]

Another report from 1844 describes it like this: “AN ENGLISH BREAKFAST. … Coffee, like tea, is used to form a refreshment by itself, some hours after dinner. It is now taken as a digester, right upon that meal or the wine; and sometimes does not even close it; for the digester itself is digested by a liqueur of some sort, called a chasse-café (coffee-chaser.) We do not, however, pretend to be learned in these matters.[19-389] [19-390]

The Knickerbocker. Vol. 31, Issue 4. April 1848, page 298-199.
The Knickerbocker. Vol. 31, Issue 4. April 1848, page 298-199. [21-298] [21-299]

The Chasse Café was an indispensable element of etiquette. This is what is written in an essay entitled “Table Æshetics”, published in 1848: “19. The mistress of the house should always make sure that the coffee is perfect; and the master, that the liqueurs are of the best quality. … The remark upon liqueurs is worthy of attention. Not long ago I was at a dinner where the host had imprudently left the care of this matter to the butler; and the consequence was, that instead of Maraschino and Curacoa, we were presented with — anisette and cherry-bounce! Not that cherry-bounce is by any means a despicable variety, under certain circumstances, but it is not exactly what you would select for a chasse-cafe. The English are very ignorant of the use and theory of coffee and liqueurs. You will see an Englishman take two large cups of coffee, flooded with milk, and should a chasse be introduced — which is not generally the case — he will make no scruple of tossing off two or even three glasses.[21-298] [21-299]

New York & Havre Steam Navigation Company U.S.Mail Steamship Humboldt, 1850.
New York & Havre Steam Navigation Company U.S.Mail Steamship Humboldt, 1850. [48]

Finally, in 1851, the oldest text we have found appeared in a letter from Paris, which reports that liqueurs were layered for a Chasse Café:

Spirit of the Times. Vol. 21, Iss. 46. 3. January 1852, page 1.
Spirit of the Times. Vol. 21, Iss. 46. 3. January 1852, page 1. [24-1]

Paris, November 29th, 1851. Dear ‘‘ Spirit.” — My first letter was written in such haste that I forgot to say many things which I had intended to. Imprimis, I want you to contradict everything that is said against the Havre steamers, and particularly against the Humboldt. I know there has been a great deal said. If you consider my word and experience of any value you will impress it upon all your friends who have any travelling intentions, that she is a particularly comfortable and agreeable boat. To begin with, she has a first-rate cook, which you do not always find on board a steamer. I put the cook first, not from want of respect for the other officers, but because able and attentive captains, mates, and pursers, are ordinary blessings in our boats, while he is an extraordinary one. For one to pass any eulogy on Capt. Lines would be superfluous, to say the least; but I must tell you of a wrinkle he gave me in the matter of drinks. If you want the best possible chasse cafe, fill your liqueur glass two-thirds with Curacoa, and then crown it with kirsch. Probatum est.[24-1]

Anonymus: Household cookery, carving and dinner-table observances. 1855, page 39.
Anonymus: Household cookery, carving and dinner-table observances. 1855, page 39. [25-39]

In 1855, the importance of the Chasse Café in the social context is again emphasized: “Spirits are good medicinally; and in France, and generally on the Continent, when guests are assembled before dinner, the servant brings to each a glass of vermout or absinthe verte, which is drunk with water, and stimulates the appetite. In the middle of dinner, brandy, rum, kirchwasser, and annis is handed round, and considered to help digestion. After the cafe, which is usually drank at table, and immediately after desert, a chasse cafe of either pale brandy, or liquer such as eau de vie, de Dantzic, ratefie de Grenoble, &c., is introduced as a signal to retire to the salon — a practice that ought to be observed at home as well as abroad.[25-39]

Alexis Soyer: The modern housewife. 1856, page 421.
Alexis Soyer: The modern housewife. 1856, page 421. [26-421]

This was confirmed in 1856: “During the time … the coffee ought to be introduced, and with a chasse cafe the table is cleared, or the guests go into the drawing-room, should the unhappy bachelor happen to have one, and the remainder of the evening may be passed according to the disposition and taste of the party, such as music, cards, &c. ; and I am afraid the enjoyment of the evening would not be complete without cigars.[26-421]

Vanity Fair. 15. September 1860. Vol. 2, Issue 38. 1860, page 145.
Vanity Fair. 15. September 1860. Vol. 2, Issue 38. 1860, page 145. [27-145]

There is further evidence from 1860 that various liqueurs were combined to make a Chasse Café. A story from New York reports: “The company now adjourned to the drawing-room, where Mrs. COGWHEELS’ pretty foot again pressed a spring, and uprose a dainty little rose-wood table with coffee urn and liquors. FIFER duly took down his half cup of black coffee, and then initiated the good Professor B. LOWHARD into the manufacture of a chasse café (one third Absynthe and two thirds Maraschino de Zara) which raised him to a discourse on nectar, Amber Gods, and the Bacchae.[27-145]

The Chasse Café was also known by other names. For example, a French journal reported in 1866: ““The four glasses of brandy after coffee in public establishments are commonly called le chasse-café, le gloria, la rincette and la sur-rincette.” Firstly, these expressions are more than trivial and are not used frequently enough to be considered the moral passive voice of a population. Secondly, one does not say le chasse-café in all cases, but le pousse-café. Thirdly, gloria is not a pure alcoholic drink, but a mixture. When my English colleague opens the Bescherelle dictionary, he finds: Gloria – fig. and colloquial – a hot liqueur made from coffee, sugar and brandy. Example: Do you make a Gloria?” [42]

Le Petit Journal. Paris, 7. June 1866, page 1.
Le Petit Journal. Paris, 7. June 1866, page 1. [42]

– “»Les quatre verres de liqueur après le café dans les établissements publics sont vulgairement appelés lé chasse-café, le gloria, la rincette et la sur-rincette.» Tout d’abord, ces expressions sont plus que triviales et ne s’emploient pas assez fréquemment pour être mises au passif moral d’une population. Secondement, on ne dit pas dans tous les cas le chasse-café, mais le pousse-café. Troisièmement, le gloria n’est pas une’ libation d’alcool pur, mais bien un mélange. Que mon confrère anglais ouvre le dictionnaire de Bescherelle, il trouvera: Gloria – fig. et familier – liqueur chaude composée de café, de sucre et d’eau-de-vie. Exemple: Faites-vous un gloria?[42]

This is an important source, as it proves that the Chasse Café was also known as the Pousse Café, to which we will devote a separate chapter below. We are also informed that there are other names or types of drink, such as the Gloria, the Rincette (which could be translated as “rinser”) or the Sur-Rincette. We will come back to these in connection with the Pousse Café.

One rule of bourgeois life that was considered important and was common practice from the 1870s onwards was the spatial separation of smoking men and non-smoking women. An upper-class household had to have a smoking room, or at least a study that could be used as a smoking room. This is where the men would retire to after dinner. The ladies, on the other hand, chatted with each other in the drawing room over coffee and liqueur. [36-156]

William H. Ukers: All about coffee. 1922, page 681.
William H. Ukers: All about coffee. 1922, page 681. [33-681]

In a book about coffee, published in 1922, it says: “Coffee is never drunk with any meal but breakfast, but is invariably served en demi-tasse after the noon and the evening meals. In the home, the usual thing after luncheon or dinner is to go into the salon and have your demi-tasse and liqueur and cigarettes before a cosy grate fire. A Frenchman’s idea of after-dinner coffee is a brew that is unusually thick and black, and he invariably takes with it his liqueur, no matter if he has had a cocktail for an appetizer, a bottle of red wine with his meat course, and a bottle of white wine with the salad and dessert course. When the demi-tasse comes along, with it must be served his cordial in the shape of cognac, benedictine, or creme de menthe. He can not conceive of a man not taking a little alcohol with his after-dinner coffee, as an aid, he says, to digestion.[33-681]

William H. Ukers: All about coffee. 1922, page 682.
William H. Ukers: All about coffee. 1922, page 682. [33-682]

In 1922 it continues: “The cafés that line the boulevards of Paris and the larger cities of France all serve coffee, either plain or with milk, and almost always with liqueur.[33-682]

William H. Ukers: All about coffee. 1922, page 683.
William H. Ukers: All about coffee. 1922, page 683. [33-683]

The French, young or old, take a great deal of pleasure in sitting out on the sidewalk in front of a café, sipping coffee or liqueur. Here they love to idle away the time just watching the passing show. In Paris, there are hundreds of these cafés lining the boulevards, where one may sit for hours before the small tables reading the newspapers, writing letters, or merely idling.[33-683]In the afternoon, café means a small cup or glass of café noir, or café nature. It is double the usual amount of coffee dripped by percolator or filtration device, the process consuming eight to ten minutes. Some understand café noir to mean equal parts of coffee and brandy with sugar and vanilla to taste. When café noir is mixed with an equal quantity of cognac alone it becomes café gloria. Cafe mazagran is also much in demand in the summertime. The coffee base is made as for café noir , and it is served in a tall glass with water to dilute it to one’s taste.[33-683]

William H. Ukers: All about coffee. 1922, page 711.
William H. Ukers: All about coffee. 1922, page 711. [33-711]

The French make an extremely strong coffee. For breakfast, they drink one-third of the infusion, and two-thirds of hot milk. The café noir used after dinner, is the very essence of the berry. Only a small cup is taken, sweetened with white sugar or sugar-candy, and sometimes a little eau de vie is poured over the sugar in a spoon held above the surface, and set on fire; or after it, a very small glass of liqueur, called a chasse-café, is immediately drunk.[33-711]After looking at the Chasse Café, the next post in this series is dedicated to the Pousse Café.

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  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Angelo Henry Angelo.
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  11. https://archive.org/details/desultoryreminis01wrig/page/296/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 Anonymus (Hezekiah Hartley Wright): A tour through Germany, Switzerland, and France. Boston, 1838.
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  16. https://archive.org/details/pictorialhistor02macfgoog/page/n181/mode/2up?q=anacharsis+Cloozt George L. Craig & Charles Mac Farlane: The pictorial history of England during the reign of George the Third: being a history of the people as well as a history of the Kingdom. Vol. 3. London, 1843.
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  18. https://www.google.de/books/edition/The_New_Sporting_Magazine/G1QCAAAAYAAJ?hl=de&gbpv=1&dq=%22Chasse-cafe,+Monsieur%22&pg=PA42&printsec=frontcover New Sporting Magazine. Vol. V, No. 25. May 1833. Daraus: A Trip to paris with Mr. Jorrocks.
  19. https://archive.org/details/sim_new-mirror_1844-03-23_2_50/page/390/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 The New Mirror. Vol. 2, Iss. 50. New York, 23. March 1844.
  20. https://archive.org/details/sim_frasers-magazine_1844-10_30_178/page/436/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 Fraser’s Magazine. London, October 1844.
  21. https://archive.org/details/sim_foederal-american-monthly_1848-04_31_4/page/298/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 The Knickerbocker. Vol. 31, Issue 4. April 1848.
  22. https://archive.org/details/b21526746/page/42/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 Anonymus (Abraham Hayward): The art of dining; or, gastronomy and gastronomers. London, 1852.
  23. https://archive.org/details/s3591id1378500/page/232/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 Medical timed and gazette. A journal of medical science, literature, criticism, and news. Volume 2 for 1885. London, 1885.
  24. https://archive.org/details/sim_spirit-of-the-times_1852-01-03_21_46/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 Spirit of the Times; A Chronicle of the Turf, Agriculture, Field Sports, Literature and the Stage. Vol. 21, Iss. 46. New York, 3. January 1852.
  25. https://archive.org/details/b21505287/page/38/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 Anonymus: Household cookery, carving and dinner-table observances; with directions how to give a dinner with economy and taste. London, 1855.
  26. https://archive.org/details/modernhousewifeo00soye_0/page/420/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 Alexis Soyer: The modern housewife, or, ménagère. Comprising nearly one thousand receipts for the economic and judicious preparation of every meal of the day, and those of the nursery and sick room; with minute directions for family management in all its branches. London, 1856.
  27. https://archive.org/details/sim_vanity-fair-1859_1860-09-15_2_38/page/144/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 Vanity Fair. 15. September 1860. Vol. 2, Issue 38. New York, 1860.
  28. https://archive.org/details/ladywedderburns00grangoog/page/n248/mode/2up?q=%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22 James Grant: Lady Wedderburns wish. A tale of the Crimean War. Vol. 1. London, 1870.
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  32. https://books.google.de/books?id=xZEGAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA153&lpg=PA153&dq=%22paris%22++%22chasse+caf%C3%A9%22&source=bl&ots=CZD9VVKyQk&sig=ACfU3U35APDxn2i5XgBN5w47MVdPxxZlqg&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjttffg8aP0AhXR6qQKHainDkY4ChDoAXoECBYQAw#v=onepage&q=%22paris%22%20%20%22chasse%20caf%C3%A9%22&f=false Lady Morgan: France in 1829-1830. Second Edition. Vol. I. London, 1831.
  33. https://archive.org/details/AllAboutCoffee/page/91/mode/2up?q=frenchAb William H. Ukers: All about coffee. New York, 1922.
  34. http://othes.univie.ac.at/45872/1/48198.pdf Barbara Litsauer: Die Bildung politischen Bewusstseins während der Französischen Revolution: Louise de Kéralio-Robert und der Mercure National. Dissertation an der Universität Wien. Wien 2017.
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    Karin Hausen: Zigaretten und männlich-weibliche Turbulenzen in Deutschlands
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  41. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1034491/f155.item.r=chasse Moritz von Haacke: Erinnerungen aus einer Reise durch das südliche Deutschland, Österreich, die Schweiz, in das mittägliche Frankreich und nach Algier. Quedlinburg und Leipzig, 1840.
  42. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5893146/f1.image.r=%22chasse%20caf%C3%A9%22?rk=236052;4 Le Petit Journal. Paris, 7. Juni 1866.
  43. https://www.google.de/books/edition/Studien_zur_Kenntniss_der_sch%C3%B6nen_Natur/6xFbAAAAcAAJ?hl=de&gbpv=1&dq=chasse+caf%C3%A9&pg=PA24&printsec=frontcover Friedrich Wilhelm Basilius von Ramdohr: Studien zur Kenntnis der schönen Natur, der schönen Künste, der Sitten und der Staatsverfassung, auf einer Reise nach Dännemark. Erster Theil. Hannover, 1792.
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  46. https://archive.org/details/cafekaffeekultin0000unse/page/10/mode/2up?q=kaffee+lik%C3%B6r+salon Anonymus: Café-, Kaffee-Kult in Berlin. Ein Kennerguide von Davidoff-Café. Berlin, 2001.
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Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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