Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition

BOOKS, CREATIVE WRITING, FOOD & DRINK

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Remember this post?

(Actually, I’ll be seriously impressed if you do.) “Classics & Cocktails” was one of my first, written shortly after I turned 21 in Toledo, Ohio last summer. I was bored and lonely in my apartment one day, flipping through some classic literature I’d taken out of the library. I felt like going out, but my fellow interns were working the night shift (we often had opposite schedules) and I had no one to have a drink with.

So naturally, I decided to Google my favorite authors’ favorite drinks and write a post about it.

Classic literature and classic cocktails: what a perfect combination.

Well over a year later, at a book sale at work the other week, I found this gem. Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition by Lesley M. M. Blume, a journalist and author based in New York City. The cover drew me in initially (isn’t it preettyy?) but the content pushed me to buy it. It’s basically an entire book of classic cocktail recipes, along with humorous anecdotes about each one, bits of history, quotes and poems.

The Chicago Tribune called it “a charming slip of a book…that quite deliciously and convincingly has the romantics among us pining for the ways of the dearly held past.”

Definitely my kind of thing.

My favorite page. Poets Dream: for a “literary” slumber.

In Ms. Blume’s introduction to the book, she writes:

“It’s great fun not only to revisit the stories behind the creation of these cocktails, but also to imagine the millions of narratives caused by drinking them. The following libations caused faces to be slapped, tears to be shed, babies to be made, fox trots and the Twist to be danced, marriage proposals to be uttered (and perhaps rescinded,) and so on.”

She continues, more seriously:

“The people who drank these drinks during the heights of their popularity did so for the same reasons we guzzle today’s trendy cocktails: to celebrate, to escape, to drown sorrows, to feel bigger, to feel glamorous–or feel nothing at all.”

As tongue in cheek as most of the book is, it also touches on the deeper theme of why people drink, why socializing over alcohol has persisted so strongly throughout history.

For now, Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition is tucked neatly into my bookshelf. But as soon as I have my own apartment in a city, I’m going to make use of this book and hold an epic throwback cocktail party, unapologetically artsy and decidedly literary.

Either that, or I’ll go find a way back to go back to the grandeur of 20s nightlife, Owen Wilson style.

Fictional Cheers, Hemingway.

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Classics & Cocktails

FOOD & DRINK

In honor of my 21st  birthday I’m dedicating this post to two vastly different but wonderfully related things: classic literature and classic cocktails.

It’s no secret that 20th century writers of the World War II era were about as dedicated to their drinking as they were to their novels.  Cigarettes and alcohol fueled expatriates like Hemingway and Stein as they scribbled down the beginnings of what would later become American classics.

According to David A. Embury in his 1948 book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, (a classic in its own right) there are six basic cocktails: Martini, Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, Daiquiri, Side Car, and Jack Rose.

I had the pleasure of trying a few of them last night…

The Hemingway Daiquiri

The famous author is known for his minimalist style, short sentences, and of course his Daiquiri drinking. Hemingway might have sipped this drink from his apartment while looking over the Paris streets. Here’s how you make it:

1 1/2 oz light rum

1/4 oz maraschino liqueur

3/4 oz lime juice

1/4 oz grapefruit juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

                                                                                                    

                                                                                    

Jake’s Jack

Another Hemingway-related favorite is the Jack Rose cocktail, famous from its appearance in The Sun Also Rises.  Jake, the narrator, drinks a Jack Rose in a Paris hotel bar while awaiting the arrival of Lady Brett Ashley.

1 1/2 oz apple brandy

1 tsp grenadine syrup

juice of 1/2 limes

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

 Sherwood Anderson’s Old Fashioned

Faulkner and Hemingway looked up to Anderson as a literary role model; they also took up his fondness for cocktails. Anderson called the Old Fashioned his “personal poison,” which turned out to be tragically true. He died after swallowing a toothpick at a cocktail party, eventually causing a fatal infection in his stomach.

2 oz blended whiskey

1 sugar cube

1 dash bitters

1 slice lemon

1 cherry

1 slice orange

Combine the sugar cube, bitters, and 1 tsp. water in an old-fashioned glass. Muddle well, add blended whiskey, and stir. Add a twist of lemon peel and ice cubes. Add slices of orange and lemon and top with the cherry. Serve with a swizzle stick.

Gatsby’s Manhattan

“I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited– they went there.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald had a talent for displaying the lives of the fabulously rich, and the hidden moral decay behind them. In The Great Gatsby, parties held every weekend on Long Island offer a glimpse into that fantastic, unattainable lifestyle. The blurring nature of drunkenness fits right in to Fitzgerald’s themes of disillusionment and an out-of-reach American Dream.


1 1/2 ounces 100-proof rye whiskey

1 3/4 ounces sweet vermouth

1/2 ounce Grand Marnier

3 dashes Angostura bitters

1 lemon twist, for garnish

Pour the whiskey, vermouth, liqueur, and bitters into a mixing glass. Add large cold ice cubes and stir for 40 revolutions. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist. Drink the Manhattan post haste.

The Sidecar

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Gatsby’s partygoers might have also enjoyed a citrusy Sidecar, one of the most popular cocktails to emerge from the Prohibition era.

1 1/2 oz bourbon, Cognac or Armagnac

3/4 oz Cointreau

1/4 oz lemon juice

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Dorothy Parker’s Martini

 There’s a certain sophistication about a martini that can’t be found in any other cocktail. Martinis have always been a drink of class. But the classic martini is easy to make and equally easy to ruin. It’s also easy to drink too many, as Dorothy Parker admits…

“I love to drink Martinis, two at the very most, three I’m under the table, four I’m under my host.”

 2 oz. gin

1 oz. dry vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

Ice cubes

Stir ingredients briskly with ice, then strain into a chilled glass. Twist a small strip of lemon peel over the drink.