Fifteen uniquely shaped “Lady’s Leg” bottles in varying shades of olive and dark green were recovered from the SS Republic, all without embossment or paper label. Also referred to as a “swell neck,” the bottle acquired the name "Lady’s Leg" from the distinctive contour of its neck, which may have been designed for easy gripping.
These curious bottles, often used for any number of bitters brands, may have once contained the famous “aromatic” Boker’s Bitters, advertised as “unequalled for their medicinal properties and their fineness as a cordial.” Boker’s was first produced in 1828 by John G. Boker of New York and sold in conjunction with his brother E. Boker. The Bokers were succeeded in 1860 by L. Funke, who then became the sole manufacturer and proprietor. By the 1880s, large quantities of the ‘unrivaled’ Boker’s Bitters were exported globally—to Europe, Canada, Mexico, the West Indies, South America, Cuba. Perhaps the Republic’s consignment en route to New Orleans was bound for further trans-shipment southward.
Boker’s cardamom-tinged formula was a favorite ingredient in 19th-century cocktail recipes, including those concocted by Jerry Thomas, a famous New York bartender of the period. Thomas’ creations received acclaim in his treatise “How to Mix Drinks or the Bon-Vivant’s Companion,” first published in 1962. The bartender is said to have died in 1855 at the age of 55, the victim of apoplexy. Yet, Boker’s Bitters survived for another half century, until Prohibition closed the company in the 1920s.