Today we’re mixing up the Artichoke Hold cocktail in honor of the day, July 30, 1948 that professional wrestling premiered on prime-time network TV. A momentous event in sport and television history, but inevitable. After all, with moves like the chokeslam, the standing moonsault or atomic leg drop it’s fun for the whole family. It may a beer sport, but our Editorial Board has standards to uphold. We selected the Artichoke Hold cocktail after an exhaustive search of drinks with names reminiscent of wrestling.
Professional wrestling was actually a genuine competitive sport in the 19th century and was based on Greco-Roman wrestling. But sometime in the 1920s the wrestlers started to choreograph some of their matches to make them less physically demanding, shorter and more entertaining. This, of course, allowed them to perform more frequently and get in front of larger audiences.
They didn’t admit that the sport had become theater, but that was a bit of a denial in vain when it became popular as a sideshow exhibition in traveling carnivals and vaudeville theaters. Soon enough it was its own genre of entertainment and is now a billion-dollar industry.
Until recently, the entire business followed what became known as “kayfabe” or “working the marks” in wrestling circles. This was the practice of maintaining the illusion at all times, whether of personality, longstanding gripes between wrestlers, wearing in-ring masks at all public appearances, and so on. Like a good method actor, a pro wrestler never breaks character.
Professional wrestling, of course, was a natural fit for the newfangled TV after WWII. It debuted on the New York based DuMont Television Network, which rivaled NBC and CBS for the distinction of first network in the US. Notwithstanding them being the leader in bringing the splendor of professional wrestling into every living room, DuMont struggled and faded away in the 1950s. They had a large library of program materials on film, but a successor network unceremoniously disposed of them in the East River. We are uncertain about whether those films got cement shoes.
The scripted, predetermined choreography of professional wrestling was eventually admitted by World Wrestling Entertainment and others. Strangely, though, many U.S. states still regulate professional wrestling through their athletic commissioners. We assume they find the task entertaining.
The Artichoke Hold
Evoking imagery of professional wrestling with a drink is a daunting task. We settled on the Artichoke Hold for several reasons. First, the word “hold” applies in wrestling. Second, the Artichoke Hold fits in when you have professional wrestling moves like the stretch plum, muta lock, scorpion cross lock, Boston crab, anaconda vise and tree of woe. Finally, more often than not we’d rather have an artichoke than watch wrestling.
There are actually two Artichoke Hold cocktails out in the wild, both developed by professional bartenders. The first appeared in Brooklyn circa 2015. We’re going with a slightly later version created by Steven Tuttle at San Diego’s Kettner Exchange in 2018. It’s a variation on an Old Fashioned, modifying the whiskey and sugar part of the equation. Here we employ a quarter ounce each of Cynar and Maraschino Liqueur.
Artichoke Hold Cocktail
- Old Fashioned Glass
- 2 oz Bourbon
- ¼ oz Cynar
- ¼ oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
- 2 dash Orange bitters
- Garnish: orange peel twist
- Place all ingredients in your trusty mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir to chill.
- Pour over ice, preferably one large cube, in an Old Fashioned glass.
- Express orange twist and place in glass.