Magic Trick: The Accommodating Bottle

This is a bottle from which the performer pours any kind of wine or spirits that may be asked for. The secret, as in the foregoing trick, lies in the bottle, and it is only introduced here on account of its remarkable effectiveness in clever hands. The interior of the body is divided into a number of compartments, usually five. Each compartment has a tiny tube running from it half way up the neck of the bottle, and has also an aperture, just capable of admitting an ordinary pin, at the side of the bottle. Four of these apertures should be arranged an inch apart in a slightly curved line, so that one finger can be placed upon each when the bottle is grasped in the hand. The fifth aperture should be situated underneath the thumb. It is possible, but very difficult (owing to the absolute necessity for having the partitions hermetically closed, except at the tubes and the apertures), to have an ordinary quart bottle, with the bottom knocked out, fitted with a tin lining, properly prepared. When this can be done, it is decidedly advantageous; but, in the ordinary way, one has to be contented with a tin article, japanned.

By means of a specially fine funnel, each compartment is filled with a different wine, and great care must be taken in remembering which contains the port, which the sherry, and so on. So long as the fingers and thumb are kept firmly pressed upon the apertures, no liquid will escape, even when the bottle is inverted, as it will be by the performer, previous to commencing, to show that it is empty. Some bottles have an extra compartment, into which water is poured, in full view of the audience, and the bottle apparently washed out, the water being poured out again. The adoption of this addition is a matter of taste. A dozen or so of liqueur glasses upon a tray, and carried by an attendant, will be required, and, after calling attention to the fact that the bottle is quite empty, and that he has no pipes running up his sleeve, the performer asks a lady what particular wine she would like. It is as well to use the words "port, sherry, or what?" by way of suggesting something which you have in your bottle to start with. You will, of course, have champagne, claret, and hock, which, with the sherry and port, will make about as good a quintet as could be selected. On any particular wine being called for, all you have to do is to raise the finger covering the hole corresponding with the compartment containing the required beverage, and it will flow out; on replacing the finger the flow will cease. By using small glasses, one appears to supply so much more than would be the case with larger ones. Never more than half fill a glass, and always pass as rapidly as possible from one person to another. Of course, you will be frequently asked for a wine with which you are not provided. This, in nine times out of ten, you can manufacture out of your stock. For marsala, for instance, give a little sherry and hock mixed. For sparkling burgundy mix champagne and port, or champagne and claret. When you make a mistake, pretend to be in a great hurry to attend to another applicant, and accidentally (!) drop the glass on the floor. Never mind if the glass does break; your trick is not spoilt.

It is wonderful how much success is attained by management in this trick. In one person's hands, it falls so flat as to be almost a failure; whilst, in another's, it will probably be the success of the evening. It is especially successful in the hands of a brisk and lively performer, before, or rather amongst, a large audience of a free and easy nature. It is not a good trick to introduce before a select and stiff company. Should any particularly fastidious person be met with, he can generally be settled by the administration of a mixture of the whole five wines. If he is still dissatisfied, ask him, if the beverage is not the one for which he asked, to say what it is. It will puzzle him to answer, and you will then be able to retaliate upon him by supposing that he does not know the taste of the wine for which he was so anxious.

Some first-rate continental conjurors, who, as a rule, take infinite trouble with their tricks, perform this trick with an ordinary bottle, which, after being examined, is filled with sweetened water (ostensibly plain water), and then any liqueur is given from it. The secret in this case lies in the glasses, which are coloured, and contain each an extract of a certain liqueur. The sweetened water answers for all. By this means, it is possible to be provided with an immense number of flavours, but the trouble in preparation is such as only a professed conjuror could undertake.

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