A 1939 New York “Beefsteak”

A big thank you to John Bryan at Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City for sending along the link to this article from the archives of The New Yorker. It’s about the huge steak and ale parties thrown back in the first half of the twentieth century, both pre- and post-Prohibition, known as “beefsteaks.”

There is plenty of good reading in its 4,000+ words, including such great lines as this one, lamenting the effect that the presence of women at the formerly male-only parties: “…but women do not esteem a glutton, and at a contemporary beefsteak it is unusual for a man to do away with more than six pounds of meat and thirty glasses of beer.” And this: “Geez,” said a man. “These steaks are like peanuts. Eat one, and you can’t stop. Have another.”

But most interesting of all, as John pointed out in his original email to me, is the complete absence of wine at these affairs. Red meat, apparently, went with beer and only beer, and fairly large quantities of it, at that. In fact, another effect that the presence of women apparently had on the institution of the beefsteak was the addition of not cabernets or pinots to the beverage mix, but “Manhattan cocktails.”

One Reply to “A 1939 New York “Beefsteak””

  1. Beautiful article!! I think the best part is:

    “…The life of the party at a beefsteak used to be the man who let out the most ecstatic grunts, drank the most beer, ate the most steak, and got the most grease on his ears……,”

    Great!

    Tony

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