04 January 2014 (R•051518)
As a continuance to: Red Jacket Bitters – Another Chicago ‘Indian’, I add today, an interesting reference to Red Jacket Bitters being used out west, submitted by James Viguerie. James adds, “I am just glad they knocked off the top to the champaigne and not the bitters!”
He told me all about his recent trip to “La Belle France”; and he had a new variety of bitters known as Red Jacket Bitters, of which he was partaking freely.
Eugene Ware in his 1911 Indian War of 1864 described Bordeaux’s residence on the North Platte and its owner:
It was a large, rambling log building with sod end to it, and additions and outbuildings attached to it, so that it was a sort of wandering, straggling caravansary and store combined. He got to showing me what he had, and then he went into the front of the store-building, where he had some cigars. The doors were all bolted and barred. He got to telling me about his visit to France. The floor in this part of the building was made out of pine logs brought down to a grade with an adz. It happened that I could read his French language, and I expressed myself very much interested, and he told me all about his recent trip to “La Belle France”; and he had a new variety of bitters known as Red Jacket Bitters, of which he was partaking freely. We talked about Indians and Indian matters and Indian habits and Indian customs, and he said that the Indians that had been back of his house had gone off. But I was very much interested in his description of Indian manners and his adventures among them, until it got to be along about one o’clock in the morning.
Thereupon he got two tin cups, and with a hatchet knocked off the head. There in the stillness of night in that country we drank to the health of “La Belle France.”
And Mr. Bordeaux again got off onto the subject of his visit to “La Belle France,” and he seemed to be very much pleased with the bitters he had and the attention with which I listened to his story. He was a much older man than I, and I was, indeed, very much delighted to hear him talk. All at once he disappeared through the floor, by turning up a plank or puncheon, and the first thing I knew he came back from down below somewhere with two large, musty quart bottles of champagne, and sticking one down in front of me said, “We will drink to La Belle France.” I was as much surprised as if the man had dug up a statue of Daniel Webster. The idea of a quart bottle of champagne in that dry, arid, heathen country almost paralyzed me, but I finally said to him that a quart bottle was more than my size, and that I would drink half of one of the bottles with him. I suggested that we split, and each drink half of the same bottle. Thereupon he got two tin cups, and with a hatchet knocked off the head. There in the stillness of night in that country we drank to the health of “La Belle France.” I have never seen Mr. Bordeaux since then, but have retained a delicious memory of him and the occasion.