Editor’s Note: When Tony Bowe interviewed me about his grandfather Gus Bowe, I told him that after a meal at my uncle Gus and aunt Julia’s apartment, we would usually adjourn back to the living room. There Gus would make a point of offering guests a rare, imported and exquisite liqueur as an after dinner digestif. Gus said his offering was a particularly special Ecuadorian Brandy. He would then carefully pour it from a decanter into a thimble sized glass. Guests would invariably compliment Gus on both its fruity aroma and taste. At this point Gus would explain that while he called it Ecuadorian Brandy, it was in fact a straight jigger of gin. With everyone now in on Gus’s joke, a second helping of Ecuadorian Brandy was usually in order.
You can imagine my surprise when Tony then told me that his father John Bowe had continued Gus’s tradition of serving guests Ecuadorian Brandy after dinner. According to Tony, his father had explained that the ingredients of Ecuadorian Brandy were more complicated than what I had remembered. According to Tony,
“My father continued Gus’ tradition of serving what he called Ecuadorian Brandy. It was really a concoction consisting of gin and a dash of Angostura Bitters. My father explained that Gus had formulated the seemingly exotic liqueur during World War II when his favorite French Cognac became unavailable for the duration.”
The picture here is of Tony’s father John Bowe with his mother Julia. The picture was taken on February 12, 1957 in the very living room of Gus and Julia’s apartment 4D where Gus’s ritual of serving Ecuadorian Brandy originated. Given the date, we also know that John Bowe was no doubt reporting to his mother on the birth of his and Kathie Bowe’s first child, Anthony Canavan Bowe, just the day before.
So now you know something about both the birth of Ecuadorian Brandy, as well as the welcome John and his mother Julia accorded Tony Bowe’s at the time of his birth.