A drink which gained some small popularity in the cocktail wars of the 1890s, 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.

"Giving someone the hairy eyeball" is an American English slang expression for staring at someone in an openly suspicious, hostile, confrontational or demeaning manner.
To look through narrowed eyes.
To inspect something thoroughly, with scepticism. e.g. "I'll give that report the hairy eyeball this weekend"

Related concepts are:
To look askance at something, except that the hairy eyeball is full-on, not sideways.
The evil eye or mal'occhio is similar but is superstitious.
See also: scrutinize, scrutiny

The hairy eyeball is not the most common of expressions; many people have not heard it. The hairy eyeball is claimed to be common slang in the 1970s, but it is also mentioned in the song Alice's Restaurant (1969).

There is now a "Hairy Eyeball Ale" made by an American microbrewery called Lagunitas, in Modesto, California (http://www.lagunitas.com/beers/index.html). It is 8.8 Alcohol. Now that'll make your eyes feel hairy the next morning.


If you took the other writeup as fact, you need to give it the hairy eyeball. In fact, go to your local bar and ask for a "hairy eyeball". All you'll get is the hairy eyeball.

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