Family Recipe Friday: Two Oyster Cocktails Recipes for Entertaining

For some, a soiree is serious business.

We’ll round out the Oysters and Fish chapter with two oyster cocktail recipes. Both make use of pepper sauce, so I’d like to note: Tabasco sauce is a brand; tabasco peppers are a variety of chili peppers. The cookbook (and hence, my transcription) names the sauce in lowercase, but that is not technically correct. Tabasco sauce was first produced in 1868 (according to Wikipedia).

This cookbook was published in 1909 and we’re exploring the recipes and the lives of the women who submitted them. (Want to know more? Read the intro here or the previous entry here.)

Please remember to use 2014 food handling safety practices when attempting to make 1909 recipes!

Page 22

WV WC 22 Oyster Cocktails


For 1 quart of oysters, 7 teaspoons of horseradish, 7 teaspoons of vinegar, 10 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of tabasco sauce, 1 teaspoon of tomato catsup, salt to taste. This is sufficient for twelve people. Serve in glasses.
–Julia Latham.

Wash, drain and throw into a saucepan 25 fat oysters; cook until the gills curl, and stand aside on the ice to cool. Put into a saucepan a half pint of thick stewed tomatoes, add a clove of garlic, a slice of onion, a bay leave, a saltspoonful of pepper; bring to a boiling point and strain. Add four tablespoonsful of tarragon vinegar, the juice of a lemon, a half teaspoonful of salt, a half teaspoonful of Worcestershire sauce, two drops of tabasco; mix and stand aside until icy cold. At serving time put six oysters in each tumbler, divide the covering into six parts, pour it over the oysters and send to the table. Oyster cocktails may also be served in sweet peppers, packed in bowls of fine ice.

Who was she?

Julia Latham: Also known as Juliet Amelia Latham, Julia was born June 11, 1863 to George Robert Latham and Caroline Amelia Thayer at Grafton WV (1). For a moment I worried how I would discern between her and Juliet Winifred Latham Matheny, until I realized the latter would have been only about 12 or 13 at the time the cookbook was produced (Source.). Hardly an age that one needs her own Oyster Cocktail recipe!

She apparently never married. She did take a trip in 1913–whereabouts she visited and why are anyone’s guess, but she departed from the port of Queenstown in County Cork, Ireland and arrived at the port of New York on September 12, 1913 (2).

Her will is simple. She named her brother J. Frank Latham executor and left him her house, and bequeathed household items to her nieces. Specifically mentioned (and as such, probably prized) was her blue hand painted china (3). I’ll take a bit of license here and assume that Julia loved to entertain. Why else contribute an Oyster Cocktail recipe for twelve to a cookbook, or set aside china as its own separate item in the will?

She died of bronchial pneumonia (with senility listed as a contributing factor) at Neely’s Rest Home on January 14, 1954 (4).

(Numbered sources are cited and linked in the index.)

Question for you

I’d love to get some conversations flowing about this lovely old cookbook, so here’s a question: What’s your go-to appetizer for entertaining? I’ll share mine: around the holidays, it’s hard to beat the wow-factor of a baked brie!

Also, quick teaser: I have something very, very cool for you next Monday, so don’t miss out. 😉

Oh, and by the way…

If you love antique cookbooks and old-fashioned recipes, you can subscribe via email or RSS reader for Family Recipe Friday updates every week!

If you are researching one of the ladies credited in this cookbook, email me! I’d love to hear your story!

3 Replies to “Family Recipe Friday: Two Oyster Cocktails Recipes for Entertaining”

  1. What a fun project! When I think ahead, my go to appetizer for entertaining is ceviche, Panamanian style. When time is short, bowls of Portuguese fava nuts usually do the trick. Those things are addictive.

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