The Atomic Cocktail Party and Trivia Book

by M. R. Maxwell

5.5 x 8.5, 104 pg, soft cover

ISBN 978-0-9801327-0-0

Price $12.95

From the Foreword

Much has been written about the resurgence and revisiting of “Atomic Popular Culture,” into which category this book must fall. I see it not as a peculiar nostalgia for a time when “the enemy” was known, but rather as a form of the “black humor” of paramedics, police, doctors, nurses, and soldiers—who live every day with tragedy and horror, and must both deal with and distance themselves from its cumulative effects. The human mind cannot deal with tragedy constantly—it escapes into total dementia, or the small madness of humor. Since the 1940s, the whole world has had to weave the concept of nuclear annihilation into its national cultures and mythologies—whether through songs, beauty contests, memorials, movies, rockets, or atomic cocktails.

We should never forget—because the Nuclear Age is not over. Nuclear arsenals still exist as potential threats; nuclear waste exists as a definite one. I’m a native of Tucson, Arizona, where the first Titan II ICBM went on alert in early 1963. Despite the fact that the missile sites around my hometown have been dismantled (except for the Titan Missile Museum, which exists as a National Historic Landmark to educate the world about the very real engagements of the Cold War), there are other sites in this country and abroad, still on alert.

And yet—people have always known that life is precarious. I don’t think it’s cynical, but a very real piece of folk wisdom, when the Old Testament prophets say, “Eat, drink, and be merry—for tomorrow, you may die.” The 1950s cocktail party epitomized the hopeless optimism of the post-war “Atomic Age.” Yet again, the ideal cocktail party, filled with fun, interesting conversation, friends and potential friends, is one way to thumb your nose at a faceless technocracy and spiritless bureaucracy which makes war—and even simple meanness—far too easy. It’s in that spirit that I offer this homage—the cocktail party of the post-atomic age.

A Toast

When I conceived this book, I had a list of cocktail names, and a rep for bartending among my friends and party guests. The idea for the book actually came from the drink I concocted for a holiday party and dubbed the Titantini. Though I was expecting to have the onerous duty of mixing and testing most of the drinks, I found that many already existed—including its titular namesake, the “Atomic Cocktail.” It and the Molotov Cocktail and Victory Punch were concocted in August 1945 by the evilly inventive bartenders of the National Press Club.

For some, like the obvious Manhattan Project, I have merely tweaked the name. Others, like the Kremlin and the Gemini, stand untweaked, and the rest are my original creations, noted with the radiation symbol.

And now, the toast. Do we toast James Bond, arbiter of the perfect martini and Cold War spy? Do we toast Austin Powers, created by Bond’s counterculture heirs? Do we toast the real Cold War soldiers? Do we toast history and learning from it?

We toast the cocktail party itself, humankind’s universal need for fellowship and relief from the pressures of modern life, and we toast the blessed Providence that provides the ubiquitous plant life wherefrom derives each luscious liquid.



The book is available at Borders, Titan Missile Museum and directly from the author.

For more information, or to order copies of the book, please contact the author at or


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