A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 03, 2011
“Champagne taste on a beer budget”

Champagne has represented luxury and beer has represented a common, more-affordable drink. The term “champagne taste on a beer budget” means luxury on limited wealth.

“Champagne tastes on a beer income” has been cited since at least 1890. “‘Champagne’ taste and only a ‘beer’ pocketbook” has been cited since 1890. “Champagne tastes and a root beer revenue” has been cited since 1898.

Rich “champagne taste” was expressed in the television show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, when host Robin Leach ended his show with the phrase, “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”


UsingEnglish.com
Idiom: Champagne taste on a beer budget
Someone who lives above their means and likes things they cannot afford has champagne taste on a beer budget.

Chronicling America
30 July 1890, Dodge City (KS) Globe-Republican, “The Victim of his Clothes” by Howard Fielding and Frederick R. Barton, pg. 11, col. 2:
Schoolmastering, I found, did not pay for a man who had acquired champagne tastes on a beer income, and so I determined to travel.

Google Books
November 1894, The Western Garden and Poultry Journal, pg. 215, col. 3:
Adapt yourselves to circumstances and if you possess a “champagne” taste and only a “beer” pocketbook, there are manv ways of managing these hard times that will be not only economical, but productive of the best results: and your little ones will be even more tastefully dressed and far happier, and you more free from care, than will those who possess the “champagne” pocketbook and have but the “beer” taste.

Chronicling America
3 July 1895, Coconino Weekly Sun (Flagstaff, AZ), “A Masterpiece” by Elisabeth Pullen, pg. 6, col. 1:
It has been said that champagne tastes and a beer income are a cause of miseries.

20 September 1897, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 6, col. 5:
Some time ago you gave in the Century an interview with a wordling who declared he could not support himself and a wife on his salary of $2500 a year, and set forth the reasons why he couldn’t which can be summed up in one of Sweetness’ truisms—he had “a champagne taste with a beer pocketbook.”

Google Books
The Army Mule and Other War Sketches
By Henry A. Castle
Indianapolis, IN: The Bowen-Merrill Company
1898
Pg. 9:
Besides, he has little of value to bequeath; he is a disinherited prodigal, with champagne tastes and a root beer revenue, digesting his diet of wild oats; his assets would scarcely overbalance those of a disbanded Uncle Tom troupe—one blood hound, one death-bed, and two cakes of imitation ice.

Google Books
A Confident Tomorrow:
A novel of New York

By Brander Matthews
New York, NY: Harper & Bros.
1900
Pg. 143:
As the boys used to say, it’s the devil to have a beer income and a champagne taste.

Google Books
Dining in New York,
An intimate guide

By Rian James
New York, NY: John Day Co.
1934
Pg. ?:
THE CLAREMONT
Champagne Taste for the Beer Budget

Google News Archive
17 November 1934, Meriden (CT) Daily Journal, “Big Money, Great Talent and Expert Direction Put Life Into the British Film Industry” by Milton Bronner, pg. 6, col. 4:
But also he (Film producer Alexander Korda—ed.) realized that you cannot make a champagne picture out of a beer budget. Korda decided to spend big money.

Google News Archive
18 September 1947, Washington (PA) Reporter, pg. 18, col. 3 ad:
Broadcloth pajamas like these are for a champagne taste with a beer budget!

27 June 1954, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pt. 4, pg. 7, col. 5 classified ad:
Champagne Appetite?
Root Beer Budget?

OCLC WorldCat record
Champagne living on a beer budget; how to buy the best for less
Author: Mike Ferguson; Marilyn Ferguson
Publisher: New York, Putnam [1968]
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Champagne decorating on a beer budget
Author: Doreen Roy
Publisher: New York : Stein and Day, 1977.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Living on a beer budget without losing your champagne tastes
Author: Wendy Austin
Publisher: Fresno, CA (4912 N. 7th, #105, Fresno 93726) : Austin Enterprises, ©1992.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

Google Books
Bitter, party of one...your table is ready:
Relationship advice from a guy who has no business giving it

By Larry Star
Lincoln, NE: iUniverse
2005
Pg. 77:
My mom used to say,“Beware of women with champagne taste and beer pockets.”

OCLC WorldCat record
Mr. Cheap’s guide to wine : champagne taste on a beer budget
Author: B A Cheap; Barbara Nowak
Publisher: Avon, Mass. : Adams Media, ©2006.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Thursday, February 03, 2011 • Permalink