which gained some small popularity in the cocktail wars
of the 1890
s, only to progress swiftly to its present ubiquity
James "Skiff" Tolerbauen had cut his teeth behind the bar at McGurk's back in the day, and was understandably envious of Willy Froman's flight to high levels of New York society on the merits of his then-unstoppable mint skittle, a cocktail which, according to Sherman (The American Cocktail: Origins and History, Sherman, William B., Puller Press, 1938, 119ff. ), was to enjoy nearly a decade of prominence among East Side socialites looking to "slum it."
Skiff found the drink too effete and set his designs on a "hit" cocktail for the working man. Interestingly, he started his recipe with the glass, rather than the ingredients. He felt a man ought not drink from any stemmed glass, ever, and demanded his cocktail be served in a short tumbler.
After a few false starts (gin and whiskey, it was decided, do not mix well), his hairy eyeball became the darling of Manhattan and is credited by some with having created the highball, a quick-and-dirty alternative to the dandies' cocktail.
Be that here or there, the hairy eyeball was the source of Skiff Tolerbauen's wealth and the success of his first venture in sole proprietorship, the (in)famous Skiff's Grill on Water Street. It is said in legend, and nearly backed up in contemporaneous press accounts, that two-fisted longshoremen and the dainty-but-daring ladies of the day drank in Skiff's place side by side, each creating his or her own kind of ruckus and reveling in the other's.
Truth or not, it remains an established fact that the hairy eyeball is one of the most-requested drinks at establishments both high and low to this day, and every bartender worth his lime wedge knows how to make and serve it with flair, and reverence for the man who singlehandedly brought a measure of equality to the drinking class.
The above work of fiction was inspired by an irresistible nodeshell title and not originally acknowledged as fiction. Having already owned up to my BS in response to several noders' feedback (sorry, no...I don't have the recipe for the hairy eyeball), I cut out the middle man with this disclaimer and leave the business of factual noding on the term to others.