Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Plain & Fancy in the seventies with Hiram Walker

Jerry Stratton, September 20, 2023

Brandy piledriver: Piledriver brandy and gin drink, from Plain and Fancy ways of using Hiram Walker Cordials, ca. 1972.; brandy; oranges; beverages; drinks; Hiram Walker; gin

Orange, brandy, and gin. A great relaxing accompaniment to a lazy summer afternoon.

The very first hard liquor I had was a fuzzy navel at a family Christmas party back in the seventies. I’m pretty sure my aunt and uncle made it using Hiram Walker Peach Schnapps. If not, it was De Kuyper Peachtree Schnapps, but unlike De Kuyper, Hiram Walker was partly a Michigan business. Even looking at the Total Wine website right now, they don’t have Hiram Walker Peach Schnapps in Texas, “but we found it at Grand Rapids, MI.”

So when I saw the wonderful artwork on the cover of Plain and Fancy ways of using Hiram Walker Cordials (PDF File, 9.2 MB), I bought it despite having no desire whatsoever of keeping my liquor “cabinet” stocked with multiple flavors of cordials. While I’m pleasantly impressed with people who do have well-stocked liquor cabinets, I just don’t drink enough for that. Even on my limited shelf, I have liquor that’s over ten years old.

One of the liquors I enjoy but don’t drink often is brandy. And, it turns out, most of the brandy recipes in Plain and Fancy are very simple. So both of the drinks I tried from this pamphlet are from the two facing pages focused on “California Brandy”. I chose the Piledriver and the Sidecar because they use alcohols I already had on hand.

I don’t know if Hiram Walker California Brandy was merely brandy from California, or if it was some sort of special cordial. Either way, I didn’t use California brandy, and I didn’t use Hiram Walker. I used a Raynal & Cie French brandy.

In the Piledriver, I also replaced the Hiram Walker Sloe Gin with Bombay Sapphire. For the orange juice I did indeed use orange juice, albeit frozen orange juice concentrate, reconstituted.

For the Sidecar, I replaced the Hiram Walker Triple Sec with Grand Marnier. I did have to go out and buy a lime. One lime is very close to one ounce of lime juice.

The pamphlet’s purpose appears to be convincing people to keep lots of cordials on hand and experience the “new world of fun, excitement and discovery in Hiram Walker Cordials” for all your “memorable moments—those special occasions—plain or fancy!”

Which makes this pamphlet somewhat of a failure, since I continue to have no intention of buying lots of different flavors of cordials. I may also try the Sunrise Punch, with tequila and gin. It’s basically a Piledriver with tequila instead of brandy. Again, it’s one of the simpler drinks, and I have both tequila and gin on hand.

I may not be alone in not being convinced by this pamphlet. Even when a recipe pamphlet isn’t available online, there are almost always people trying to sell the pamphlet. I can’t find any other copies of this anywhere, or even any evidence for it having been sold in the past. I can’t even find advertisements mentioning it.

That also means that I don’t know when it was published. There is no date or even copyright notice. The art certainly looks seventies to me, but I’m far from an expert in dating books by art style. I base that mainly on it resembling the animation styles I grew up watching on Saturday mornings in the seventies. It’s also very similar to the art style from Put Some Kraut in Your Life, which at its latest came out in 1970.

Chocolate brandy balls: Chocolate Covered Brandy Balls, from Plain and Fancy ways of using Hiram Walker Cordials, ca. 1972.; chocolate; cocoa; brandy; cookies; Hiram Walker

Chocolate “covered” brandy balls. Perfect for the holidays.

So it could easily have been the sixties; it is unlikely to have been the eighties.

The drinks were good. I’m not adding them to my regular rotation, but I will probably pull the pamphlet out once in a while when I need something citrusy. The Piledriver was a nice citrusy drink, not the kind of thing I normally associate with brandy. The Sidewinder was similar—equal amounts brandy, Grand Marnier, and lime juice, blended in a blender with cracked ice. Very much an adult fun drink to match the kids’ shaved ice drinks.

These were both very nice afternoon outdoor summer drinks.

The Chocolate Covered Brandy Balls, on the other hand, were exactly what I normally associate with homemade liquor candies.

I think the next time I make them I will let them sit out overnight and then roll them in powdered sugar. They were too wet the night of making them to keep the powdered sugar dry, which meant that the powdered coating disappeared as it was absorbed into the balls.

That might have been the purpose—they were not only too wet, they were too loose, and flattened as they rested. I reshaped them after a couple of hours back into a ball shape. It might be that letting them set for half an hour or so before rolling in powdered sugar is a better idea than overnight.

The title is a little weird. They are not in any sense chocolate covered snacks. The chocolate is cocoa powder mixed throughout the candies. Their title, and their accompanying picture, seem to be meant for a recipe that isn’t included in this pamphlet, one in which the brandy balls are dipped in chocolate after rolling.

They were good, though. And they tasted very Christmasy to me. That’s partly because this shape of candy is a holiday shape, and also because brandy flavoring in other foods is a holiday flavoring. The main reason I have brandy on hand is egg nog.

While it was difficult to date this pamphlet because of the lack of available advertising. I found an advertisement in The Portsmouth Herald of June 12, 1972 which included a “Sombrero” drink. Its recipe is very similar to the Sombrero in this pamphlet.

By 1983 Hiram Walker was advertising a “free recipe booklet” in an ad that included a recipe for “the Hiram Walker Sour Ball”. The Sour Ball used Apricot Flavored Brandy, and is not in this pamphlet. That advertisement is in the June 6 1983 New York Magazine; the “free recipe booklet” may have been Recipes for Creative Entertaining, which does contain a Sour Ball.

Hiram Walker has a history of recipe pamphlets dating back at least to 1954. I don’t know when Recipes for Creative Entertaining was published but I’ve seen their 1954 Cordial Cookery on eBay, a 1961 Complete Cordial Cookery and Cocktail Guide, a 1978 Discover the World of Hiram Walker Cordials, and a 1983-5 The Joy of Cordials.

According to an ad in the March 23, 1961, Los Angeles Mirror, you could send them ten cents for The Compleat Cordial Cookery and Cocktail Guide. An ad in the November 5, 1964, Chicago Daily Herald promoted a free Hiram Walker Holiday Letter.

So there’s lots of room between 1964 and 1972 for this pamphlet, but I’d be more likely to guess that it’s between 1972 and 1978.

The address on the pamphlet is “Hiram Walker and Sons, Inc., Peoria, Ill.” Hiram Walker appears to have been founded in Detroit and Windsor in 1858, but the Detroit distillery was closed in 1863. They opened a distillery in Peoria in 1933, after prohibition ended. The Peoria distillery stopped distilling ”in the 1970s but continued to bottle until its alcohol stocks were gone” which appears to have been 1982.

Brandy sidecar: Brandy and Triple Sec Sidecar, from Plain and Fancy ways of using Hiram Walker Cordials, ca. 1972.; limes; brandy; Hiram Walker; Grand Marnier; Triple Sec, orange liqueur

The brandy sidecar: shaved ice candy for adults.

Whether that marks a top end for this pamphlet depends on whether they retained offices in Peoria after the distillery shut down completely.

One intriguing and ultimately dead-end clue is that this pamphlet ends with a “Special Offer”:

4 mochaccino or cappuccino mugs only $3.75. Send name and address and check or money order to: H & W Ceramics, Post Office Box 292, New Waterford, Ohio 44445

I’ve been unable to find any reference to an H & W Ceramics or even a Hiram & Walker Ceramics/Hiram Walker Ceramics (on the wild guess that the H and W correspond to Hiram Walker despite “Hiram Walker” being a single name, not two names). Hiram Walker appears to have had several ceramic products, including Peppermint Schnapps shot glasses and bourbon/whiskey pitchers, but none seem to have any markings about where or by whom they were made other than “made in U.S.A.” or Canada, and, some of the more recent, in China.

Enjoy! (PDF File, 9.2 MB) There are great ideas for the holidays, and for summer get-togethers, in these drinks and desserts.

And for something else to use with brandy, here’s a holiday egg-nog that’s very quick and easy to make.

Frigidaire Egg-Nog

Brandy Egg-Nog

Servings: 1
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Miss Verna L. Miller
Refrigerator Revolution Revisited: 1928 Frigidaire
Frigidaire Recipes (PDF File, 15.5 MB)


  • 1 egg
  • speck of salt
  • ¾ tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • nutmeg


  1. Egg and milk should be chilled.
  2. Mix egg, sugar, and salt in a blender.
  3. Add the milk and brandy; blend until frothy.
  4. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
  5. You can also separate the egg(s). Beat the egg white until foamy (not stiff) and fold into the final mixture.

If you prefer your egg-nog with rum or whisky, use that. You can also use your favorite wine (probably a port or sherry would be best), but increase the amount by 50%.

In response to Vintage Cookbooks and Recipes: I have a couple of vintage cookbooks queued up to go online.

  1. <- Find vintage cookbooks