now, the fascinating world of swizzle swords has been a sadly neglected
field of study.
But thanks to a partnership with the Fraternal Order Of Licentious
Swordsmen, Peter has been able to document the majority of existing
types, many never seen before by anyone with a blood alcohol level
Frequenting bars, pubs, nightclubs, and taverns worldwide, he has
put great effort in categorizing the intoxicating variety of these
sensational stir sticks. Peter has thrown himself into his work
with an enthusiasm unknown among other swizzle sword researchers.
He has proven himself willing, day or night, rain or shine, to be
willing to go to any drinking establishment claiming to have
an original swizzle sword on display. Even if they don't have an
original swizzle sword on display, he has never been known to leave
until "bar time" once he has begun an investigation. Now
While we will not, (in the interest of saving space
and time), discuss the materials used in the making of these
original swizzle swords, we will reveal that they are almost
universally made of a material referred to commonly as plastic.
Following is Johnsson's Typology in summary form.
is characterized by its knobbed crossguard and spherical pommel.
The blade is very pointy. Generally found in pink, purple
the most common, is also very pointy. Typically found in
yellow or white.
resembles the fencing epée, complete with knobbed end (i.e.:
not very pointy), and thus is not well suited for skewering
olives, cherries or the like. Its primary function is to stir mixed
adult beverages. Often seen in green, blue or mauve.
is notable for its spatulate quillons in "S" formation, or sometimes
"C" as in the sub-TYPE D2. The long narrow blade is often
found spearing several maraschino cherries or olives (i.e.:
very pointy), but is also especially efficient in impaling
sandwiches, or fixing cheese to little bits of salami (see footnote
(1) below). Generally found in black,
red and teal.
while not properly a sword, merits inclusion as being a sword-fish
(i.e.: not so much very pointy as very smelly). Limited
mainly to coastal areas or seafood restaurants (5)
it most commonly appears in blue, grey or white.
A more exhaustive work on Johnsson's Typology will be published
on April 1st of next year, complete with an expanded typology, photographs
and statistics of period originals, tentatively titled:
Records of the Swizzle Sword.
A companion videotape, Lord of the Swizzle, (the
Johnsson Typology explained through song and interpretive dance)
is being filmed now. (4)
For information on our forthcoming line of painstaking
The Albion MarkTM
Though generally designed to be both "decorative" and
"fully functional" thrusting swords, not all swizzle swords
were used as "fruit-retaining adult beverage garnish ehancements"
-- some original swizzle swords, in fact, have been observed being
used as "multi-layer food integration and retention devices"
(as in a "club" sandwich) and as "single-food presentation/manipulation
devices" (as seen in period illustrations of the "cocktail
Peter theorizes that this is a uniquely French
invention and classifies this application as
epées d'hors d'oeuvers (to distinguish them from the medieval
epées de guerre),
and acknowledges that this is a very separate area of study worthy
of much additional investigation, especially since he has not had
(2) When we talk of a substance
being “plastic” (the adjective) most people would agree on its meaning.
Note: "I have one word for you..."] It
can flow or be moulded, it is ductile or it can be shaped, but when
we turn to defining “plastics” (the noun) we have problems. Almost
any simple definition will exclude materials which everyone would
agree should be included so we have to turn to scientific terms
and start with the comment that plastics are all polymers (poly
= many). [Ed. Note: so what does 'mer' mean?] Natural polymers have
been with us since time began but synthetic polymers are much more
recent, their origins being traced to Alexander Parkes and his exhibits
of Parkesine [Ed. Note: Ego much?] at the International Exhibition
of London in 1862. Natural polymers include shellac [Ed Note: in
the Midwest, this is pronounced "shlak."], tortoiseshell
and horn, as well as many resinous tree saps. All these have been
processed with heat and pressure into articles such as hair combs
and items of jewellery for many centuries. A polymer is simply a
very large molecule made up of many smaller units joined together,
generally end to end, to create a long chain. The smallest “building
block” of a polymer is called a monomer (mono = one) [Ed.
Note: so what does 'mer' mean??] and
if all the monomers are chemically the same, then that polymer is
called a homopolymer. [Ed Note: not gonna touch that one...] Monomers
[Ed Note: monomer doo doo dee doo doo, monomer doo doo dee doo...
now I have that song going in my head and it won't stop...] generally
contain carbon and hydrogen with, sometimes, other elements such
as oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine or fluorine. Perhaps the most common
example of a synthetic homopolymer today is polyethylene or “polythene”
whilst other common materials are polypropylene, polystyrene and
poly(vinyl chloride), more commonly know as “PVC”. Sometimes two
monomers are used, monomer “A” and monomer “B” which join together
chemically in an alternating sequence: -A-B-A-B-A-B- etc. to give
a copolymer. Examples of this type are the nylon family, the most
common member being called nylon 66 for the simple reason that “A”
and “B” both contain 6 carbon atoms in their respective monomers.
[Ed Note: so what is the 'other' '6' for?] From here on there are
a number of possibilities. “A” and “B” could couple randomly, short
chains of “A” could couple to short chains of “B” and there is even
the possibility of the inclusion of a third monomer, monomer “C”.
These can be very simply visualised by thinking of Christmas “paper
chains” with each link being one monomer and different colours used
to illustrate each type [Ed Note: Yeah, we all have that kind of
time on our hands.]. Another example would be the classic plastic
necklace made of “poppets” [Ed. Note: and "pop" =... and
"pets" =...? C'mon, help us out here. And I still want
to know what 'mer' means...]. Polymers are divided into two distinct
groups: thermoplastics and thermosets. The thermoplastics are those
which, once formed, can be heated and reformed over and over again.
This property allows for easy processing and facilitates recycling.
Thermosets cannot be reformed or remoulded. Once these polymers
are formed in a particular shape, that is it! [Ed. Note: seems like
an odd thing to be so excited about...] The earliest of all synthetic
plastics, Parkesine, was of the former type whilst the first of
all truly synthetic plastics, Bakelite, belongs to the latter category.
Thermosets differ from thermoplastics chemically in that heating
the former introduces a three-dimensional network to the long chains
so that they are no longer able to flow freely past one another
like they can in the case of the thermoplastics. Whilst all plastics
are polymers, not all polymers are plastics. Rubbers, more properly
today called “elastomers” [Ed.
Note: I thought they were called "jimmy hats"? And we
get the 'elasto' part, so what does 'mer' mean???] are
also polymers and everything written above about the structure of
plastics applies to elastomers. Whilst everyone would claim to be
able to distinguish between a rubber and a plastic, there are many
plastics on the market which have some elastic character and the
distinction becomes blurred at the interface [Ed. Note: Yeah, right.].
Plasticized PVC is elastic enough to be used in applications where
rubbers would be an equally valid choice whilst the Kratons are
polymers of the (“A-A-A-A-A-A-” coupled to “B-B-B-B-B-B-B-”) type
where the “A”’s are plastic segments and the “B”’s rubbery ones
[Ed. Note: to simulate what this chain is like, press your lips
together and gently move the side of your index finger across the
surface of your lips vertically, while making an "A" sound.].
These behave as thermoplastic materials on heating but like vulcanized
rubbers at ambient temperature. Raw elastomers are of course thermoplastic
but become thermosets after vulcanization. [Ed.
Note: next year we will let you know what 'mer' means...promise.]
is a registered trade-mark of Amy Waddell, and is used here with
her express written permission.
(4) This video companion will include bonus
footage of Mike Sigman performing a cutting demonstration with a
Type D2 swizzle sword on worms he "accidentally" discovered
at the bottom of several tequila bottles, in the historic setting
of Ye Olde Sportsman's Barr & Grille in scenic New
(5) Swordfish can be prepared in many tasty
ways. Example: Blackened Swordfish: Prepare 6- to 8-ounce fish steaks
or fillets, preferably more than 1/2 inch thick, skin removed. Use
prepared or store bought Blackening Seasoning or combine the following
ingredients: 1 tbsp fine chopped fresh or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
leaves 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh or 1 1/2 tsp dried marjoram or
dried oregano 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 2 tsp salt 1 tsp freshly
ground white pepper Set aside 1/4 cup pure olive oil Note: If your
using fillets, pull out any small bones. Method: Thoroughly combine
the chopped herbs, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a medium mixing
bowl. Heat an iron skillet over high heat until the metal takes
on a dull, matte appearance, which indicates it is almost red-hot.
Depending on your stove, this will take 5 to 10 minutes. Coat the
fillets on both sides with half the olive oil and then pat only
one side with the herb mixture. With the heat still on high, place
the fillets in the pan, herb side down (they'll smoke like crazy
) for about 2 minutes. Turn the fillets over into a second saute
pan - preferably non-stick- containing the rest of the olive oil,
set over medium heat. Cook the fillets for 2 to 6 minutes more,
depending on thickness.
More swordfish recipes can be found here.
and sword typology/specifications © April 1 2005 Peter Johnsson.
Albion Armorers International is the sole worldwide licensee
for this product