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I was browsing through Here's How (1928), a Prohibition-era collection of cocktail recipes, and found something surprisingly familiar on page 48.

The Swiss Itch

Invented by one James Norton of Princeton and guaranteed to go down with the ease of an elevator:

Place a pinch of salt on the back of the right hand and with the same north paw hold half a lemon between thumb and forefinger. Hold a small glass of Gordon water [that is, gin] in the left hand and follow this sequence: lick the salt, drink the Gordon water and suck the lemon!

The modern audience will recognize this as the classic tequila shot technique, possibly altered by someone heavily invested in lemon orchards. (Half a lemon? I guess you can tell this book was published pre-1929!)

Which came first: the salt-tequila-lime version or the salt-gin-lemon version? Is "James Norton of Princeton" totally apocryphal? How far back can this two-handed maneuver be traced?

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