Paris Lullaby: Ritzy Aperitifs + Art = Bliss

Bas-reliefs by Alfred Auguste Janniot, eastern wing of the Palais de Tokyo, 1937 (Photos by Theadora Brack)

Bas-reliefs by Alfred Auguste Janniot, MUSÉE D’ART MODERNE, Palais de Tokyo, 1937 (Photos by T. Brack)

Zelda Fitzgerald and Kitty, Baltimore Sun, 1932 (T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

Blushing wildly, I confess. I am still looking forward to seeing Baz Luhrmann’s mercurial “Le Magnifique Gatsby” split the silver screen in 3-D. A life-long lover of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s fragrant prose, my inner Flapper is glowing. Ever since reading their books, diaries, and letters, I’ve always wanted to be Zelda.

Being Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald

Back in the day, I’d play the role. Re-inventing myself with a bobbed hairdo and southern accent, I’d pine for the moon in cemeteries, reciting poetry about dead lovers, weepy, watery blue flowers, and statues in ruin. Totally losing myself in their brightly painted passages, I devoured but yet savored each word, slowly, slowly turning the pages. Committing phrases to memory, I was smitten, see. I still don’t leave the house without a Fitzgerald paperback. There, I’ve said it.

Puttin’ on the Ritz

Embracing the movie launch, let’s hoof it on over to the Hôtel Ritz Bar—one of Scott’s favorite joints in Paris. In fact, the bar made cameos in Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited,” “The Bridal Party,” and “Tender Is the Night.” For kicks, we’ll also nip into the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and hobnob with the works by Braque, Matisse and Picasso. Tip: The permanent collection is still free. Plus, the view of the Eiffel Tower is a stunner. So don’t leave without looking up!

Illustration by A.M. Cassandre, 1934 (inspired by Cubism and Surrealism)

Illustration by A.M. Cassandre, 1934 (inspired by Cubism and Surrealism)

What to order?

For inspiration, let’s dip into Frank Meier’s “The Artistry of Mixing Drinks.” During the heyday of the cocktail, Frank was the head barman at the Hôtel Ritz Bar. Published in 1936, his flask-sized guide is full of tips, recipes, and gossip, along with some old-fashioned remedies. Feeling the motion of the ocean? Champagne is your cure, according to Frank. Good one Frank, I’d say! Rock the boat.

Pulling no punches, he serves up 300 easy-to-follow recipes for Cobblers, Coolers, Daisies, Fixes, Flips, Highballs, Juleps, Rickets, Shrubs, Slings, Smashes, and Sours. With wit, he delivers. Whenever he’d serve his signature “Tin Roof” cocktail, he’d quip, “It’s on the house!,” and then follow up with, “but this hotel’s roof is made of tile!” That joke never got old, I’m sure.

Crank up the printer: For your garden parties, I’ve pulled 12 of my favorite cocktail recipes from Frank’s book. While planning the shindig, don’t forget his credo about what makes a great bar truly great. It’s not the drink recipes, he said. And it’s not the décor. It’s the people!

1. Mint Julep

“I will make you a mint julep, and then you won’t seem so stupid to yourself!” snapped Daisy in “The Great Gatsby.” In large tumbler: half-filled with shaved ice: a teaspoon of Sugar, sprigs of Mint, one glass of Bourbon Whiskey; stir vigorously to bruise Mint and mix with Whiskey; decorate with Mint and a slice of Lemon.

Pass the Pastis (the perfect summer treat at l'heure bleue)

Pass the Pastis (the perfect summer treat at l’heure bleue)

2. Temptation
In shaker: two-sixths Bacardi, one-sixth Lemon juice, half Anise “Pernod fils,” shake well and serve.

3. Third Degree
In mixing-glass: a teaspoon of Anise “Pernod fils,” one-third French Vermouth, two-thirds Gin; stir well and serve.

4. Gin and Sin

In shaker: a dash of Grenadine, a teaspoon each of Orange and Lemon ice, three-fourths Gin; shake well and serve.

5. Edward VIII

In small tumbler: one glass of Seagram’s Rye Whiskey, a dash of Anise “Pernod fils,” two teaspoons each of Italian Vermouth and plain water, a piece of ice in long Orange peel, stir well and serve.

6. Royal Romance

In shaker: One-fourth each of passion fruit juice, and Grand Marnier, half Gin; shake well and serve.

7. Fascinator

In shaker: a dash of Anise “Pernod fils,” half French Vermouth, half Gin, a sprig of Mint; shake well and serve.

8. Bee’s Knees
In shaker: a teaspoon each of Fresh Cream and Honey, one-half glass of Bacardi; shake well and serve. (The Bees’ Knees drink is made with one-quarter Lemon, a teaspoon of Honey, and one-half glass of Gin.)


9. Sea Pea

(Created for Cole Porter) In shaker: the juice of one-half Lemon, one glass of sweetened Anise “Pernod fils,” shake well, strain into fizz glass, add Schweppes soda water or siphon and serve.

10. Tuxedo
In mixing-glass: a dash each of Maraschino and Anise “Pernod fils,” half French Vermouth, half Gin; stir well and serve.

11. Million Dollar

In shaker: half white of Egg, a dash of Grenadine, a teaspoon of Pineapple ice, one-half glass of Gin; shake well, strain into double cocktail glass and serve.

12. Last Round
In mixing-glass: two dashes of Anise “Pernod fils,” two dashes of Brandy, half French Vermouth, half Gin; stir well and serve.

My Stardust Melody

Closing now with a favorite passage from Fitzgerald’s lyrical “Tender is the Night” (1925), I highly recommend reading the words out loud, slowly, one phrase at a time. His cadence woos and mesmerizes. Stir and repeat. Stir and repeat.

“By one o’clock the bar was jammed; amidst the consequent mixture of voices the staff of waiters functioned, pinning down their clients to the facts of drink and money. . .That makes two stingers . . . and one more . . . two martinis and one . . . nothing for you, Mr. Quarterly . . . that makes three rounds. That makes seventy-five francs, Mr. Quarterly. Mr. Schaeffer said he had this — you had the last . . . I can only do what you say . . . thanks vera-much.

Across from him the Dane and his companions had ordered luncheon. Abe did likewise but scarcely touched it. Afterwards, he just sat, happy to live in the past. The drink made past happy things contemporary with the present, as if they were still going on, contemporary even with the future as if they were about to happen again.”

Les Nymphes by sculptors Léon-Ernest Drivier and Auguste Guénot, eastern wing of the Palais de Tokyo, 1937

Les Nymphes by sculptors Léon-Ernest Drivier and Auguste Guénot,  Palais de Tokyo, 1937


Bas-reliefs by Alfred Auguste Janniot, MUSÉE D’ART MODERNE, Palais de Tokyo, 1937

Sonia Delaunay, Dubonnet, 1914 (Image: Australian National Gallery) Sonia’s “Dubonnet n° 7 ” collage is at the Centre Pompidou

Dubonnet by A.M.Cassandre, 1932 (One of the first billboards created for automobiles)

Illustrated by A.M.Cassandre, 1932 (Created to attract passengers in fast-moving automobiles)

Illustrated by Louis Ferrand, Soir de Paris by Bourjois, Ritz Paris, L'Ilustration, 1937

Illustrated by Louis Ferrand, Soir de Paris by Bourjois, Ritz Paris, L’Ilustration, 1937

BRACK Drinks 2222

88 thoughts on “Paris Lullaby: Ritzy Aperitifs + Art = Bliss

    • I’m with you, Monsieur Tin Man! Oh, la la. Thanks for the big giggle! The names of the cocktails are pretty darn great, I think. I’ve also got my eye on the “Mary Pickford” cocktail: one-half teaspoon of Grenadine, half unsweetened Pineapple juice, half white Rum; shake well and serve! The Diamond Fizz also looks divine! Safe travels to you!! T.


    • I know! What an AB-FAB name. It’s the perfect drink for flappers. I bet the Bees’ Knees with the lemon is also tasty. Decisions! Decisions! Perhaps I’ll try both and report back with my finds. Ritz bartender Frank Meier was an artist! T. (Enjoy the weekend!)


    • I love, love Avignon. Did you make it to the old Opera House? What spectacular views. Good golly!! I was there during a July heatwave but it didn’t stop me from strolling nonstop from sunrise to way past midnight. Heaven. Sign. . .T.


      • Sweet Theadora we made it to the Opera House and soooooooooo many other marvelous places … The biggest problem being that our bellies were soooooooooo full of escargot, as we stopped to eat and compare every few steps! So charming, so very marvelous. We spoke of you often!!!…….and of course our sister in Canada, Virginia!


  1. My first encounter with a mint julep was in the James Bond film Goldfinger. I didn’t realise it had literary pedigree.


      • I seem to recall, without referring to Dr Google, Goldfinger asking Bond,”How’s the mint julep? Not too tart I hope?” And Bond replying’ “It’s perfect”. If my memory serves me correctly although I can’t remember how Bond asked for his to be served.


      • Ring-a-ding-ding! You are correct. Great memory! “Sour mash and not too sweet, please,” James Bond said. Doesn’t the scene take place in Kentucky? Bravo, Sean Connery! T. (Enjoy the weekend!)


      • Yes, Goldfinger’s stud farm in Kentucky, right next to an original KFC!


  2. I’d love to come to your next cocktail party!! I love the names of the drinks but I’d love to sample (but NOT at the cost of mixed drinks these days.) 🙂 All I generally have on hand at home are wine and Guinness, but never served mixed, of course.)



    • Janet, I also fell for the names!! And Frank’s wit and helpful tips.

      Here’s another fun tidbit! Frank also created a special drink for the famous Sir Malcolm Campbell. The Ritz’s “Blue Bird” cocktail was named for the handsome racing motorist and motoring journalist. During the 1920s and 1930s, he was nicknamed the “fastest man alive!” Land and Sea! His vehicle was called the “Blue Bird.”

      Here’s Frank’s “Blue Bird” recipe: In shaker: a teaspoon each of Lemon juice, and Curaçao, one-half glass of Fin, three drops of Tincture of {Vegetable) Blue; shake well and serve.

      Imagine serving a blue drink at l’heure bleue!


    • Gin Fizz?! Excellent choice! My friends have been singing its praises. And I’ve been digging the soundtrack! T. (Do report back after you’ve seen the film! I’d love to hear your thoughts!)


  3. another cool piece T…….we’re having a tornado night here in Dallas… sized hail…crazy lightning…tornados touching down…..what fun


    • Thanks, Kim! Midnight in Paris! YES. I love the film. I’ve seen it many times. The soundtrack is also pretty wonderful! Ah, so you got to visit the Dubonnet distillerie? Very cool! Interesting! I’m off now to check out your post. Thanks for giving us the heads-up! T.


  4. Green silk stockings, a diamond hair band, and red satin slippers. I’m “shaking those feet” to the beat. The fringe on my dress shimmies and shakes. The ice is melting in my glass of Mint Julep. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” We follow T. into that glorious past. V.


    • Ah, green stockings, red satin slippers and a Mint Julep. Plus, a Fitzgerald passage. Perfection, Virginia! So where do you purchase your stockings? I think its high time for a nod to hosiery and its exquisite presentation, of course. I loved the boxes and tissue paper. Dreaming, now. Off to research. . .T. (Have you read Patricia Volk’s “”Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me.” A friend recently sent me the recent NPR Fresh Air interview. It looks interesting!)


      • I collect beautiful stockings and tights. Some are so beautiful I hesitate to remove them from their packaging. Several years ago I found exquisite Emporio Armani Tights at Galeries Lafayette. One pair nude covered with tiny flowers, the other pair grey with embroidered leaves. I love, love , love Fogal tights. My fav pair has embroidered peacock feathers. I can’t pass up a bargain, and I will buy wantonly when gorgeous stockings are on sale. We have a high end department store (Holt Renfrew) in Vancouver that carries fabulous hosiery. I must admit my stocking drawer is very full and I should walk away from the hosiery counter. I have very long legs, and as legs are the last to go how can I deny myself.
        I haven’t ready P. Volk’s book but I’ve just ordered it off Amazon. Looks like a great summer book. V/.


      • Embroidered peacock feathers? AH. I’m very jealous. Léon Fogal. I think Fogal created hosiery for “The Great Gatsby” movie Stop. YES. Fogal created a special line of hosiery for flick. Interesting! I’m now off to dig up more information about Monsieur Fogal. As always, thanks for the brainstorming and inspiration! T. (I also ordered P. Volk’s book. Let me know what you think of it.)


      • T. I am looking forward to curling up with two of P. Volk’s book. I also ordered her book To My Dearest Friends. V.


      • I’ve been following your trail of shells and melted butter. The garlic gave you two away, Tin Man. XXOo /V


    • Well, thank you, sir!! 🙂 It was a fun post to create! The photograph of Zelda was taken around 1932. It was one of her “Save me the last Waltz” press photographs and dust jacket portraits. She’s wearing a tutu and ballet slippers! I love the cat. What a great idea for a dust jacket! T. (Enjoy the weekend!)


  5. Wow, I had no idea Zelda was such a looker. Let me know what you think about the film, I’d love to trade notes!

    And to think un petit jaune à l’heure bleue! Sounds (looks!?) wonderful.

    Thanks for another beautiful post, Theadora!


    • Thanks, Paul!! YES. Zelda was a looker. The shot was one of her press photographs for her “Save Me the Waltz” book launch. Wonderful eye contact. By the way, the book is worth a read. She could paint a scene. Scott frequently borrowed from Zelda’s letters! I also love the yellow cocktail at l’heure bleue. Pretty! Fitzgerald described the music at Gatsby’s party as “yellow cocktail music.” I love that. T. (And do let me know what you think of the film! The soundtrack is fabulous. Especially the jaunty Bryan Ferry numbers!)


  6. Ah, Dubonnet! Massive Proustian rush – back to Jersey airport and everyone around us smoking in the departures lounge, getting sozzled on “continental” hooch. The UK in the late sixties/ early seventies seems like the stone age now. Ace post, again, T! Thanks for the recipes. Yum!


    • I love Proustian rushes. I live for Proustian rushes! Getting sizzled on continental hooch! What an AB-FAB line. Thanks for the gorgeous Dubonnet flashback. I’m now obsessed with Frank’s recipes. This weekend, in celebration of Sir Malcolm Campbell, I plan to try to make a round of Frank’s “Blue Birds.” The color is incredible. Wish me luck! T.


  7. Fabulous! I loved how the highlights in Zelda’s cat’s eyes resemble the highlights in the Pernod ad! Once again–you’ve done it again! Three cheers!


  8. I thought for a moment that the bar, full etc by one o’clock, might have been in the morning – boy, they sure knew how to lunch back in the day!

    Thank you Theadora for the fabulous party, full of fun and French fizz!


    • Thanks, Patti!! YES. Back in the day, the three-cocktail lunch was in full-bodied swing! In Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Night,” book, Abe arrives at the Ritz bar at 9 AM for one of Frank’s famous “pick-me-up” drinks. Here’s the recipe: one yolk of an Egg, one-half glass each of Curaçao, Rum and Anise “Pernod fils;” shake well, strain into fizz glass and serve. Oh, la la!

      Here’s the passage. It’s quite beautiful. T. (Enjoy the weekend!)

      “Abe North was still in the Ritz bar, where he had been since nine in the morning. When he arrived seeking sanctuary the windows were open and great beams were busy at pulling up the dust from smoky carpets and cushions. Chasseurs tore through the corridors, liberated and disembodied, moving for the moment in pure space.”


    • YES. We’re all bonding with our inner flappers! Blame it on the springtime weather! Have you seen Sonia Delaunay’s frocks and fabric? She was so talented. I plan to create a post about her work. So stay tuned! T. (And enjoy the weekend!)


    • I know! I know! Here’s Frank’s recipe for the “Parisian” cocktail. In mixing-glass: a teaspoon of Crème de Cassis, half French Vermouth, half Gin; stir well and serve. Enjoy the week! T.


  9. Loved Zelda from the archives. I always learn a lot from your posts. Sharing your post on FB today. Such terrific aperitifs. All the best from Ruth in Pittsburgh. Thanks for the likes on the blog.


    • Ruth, MERCI. Thank you for getting on the horn, and spreading the word. I really appreciate it! And of course, as you know, I’m a big time fan of your photography, along with the AB-FAB Flat Ruthie! T. (Enjoy the week!)


  10. Love this, especially since I’m both a Fitzgerald (both Zelda and FS) and a Delaunay (both Sonia and Robert) fan. My mom later worked at the hospital where Zelda died, so I grew up on the crazy stories she heard about her.


    • Thank you!! I love Sonia’s gorgeous garb and fabrics. I’m currently working on a second post about her fashion. Works of art. I’m in love. And goodness. Gracious. So your mom worked at the Highland Hospital? Do you recall any of the stories? The Grove Park Inn is beautiful! I think they recently named a suite after Scott. In the name of tourist dollars, I guess they’ve decided to let bye-bye-gones be bygones! T.


  11. Pingback: Paris Lullaby: Ritzy Aperitifs + Art = Bliss | njdonohue1

    • Exciting!! Here’s a tip for the road! While in Paris, make time to stop by Chez Ammad at Hotel Clermont at 18 Rue Véron in Abbesses (Métro Abbesses, near Sacré Coeur). This is where Edith Piaf stayed in the early thirties, while performing in Pigalle. A favorite with the locals, the bar is full of zinc bar, murals, and beveled mirrors, along with sea merchants, off-duty cabaret performers, artists, poets, and gypsy musicians, each tales to tell!)


    • Hi Thom! So you enjoyed the film? That’s great news! Do you have a favorite theater in New York City? Say, have you written a post about New york theaters? Questions, questions! Enjoy the week! T. (Also, do you have a special Dubonnet recipe?!)


  12. Your images are very exciting, Mlle B., making me want to be there so very much and sip some sort of non-alcoholic drink while day-dreaming of Gatsby et al (Doctor says NO alcohol for this old gal!)! Haven’t seen the film yet, but Doc definitely wants to…his dad was in the industry, so he’s quite the film guy!

    Wondering if we can ever capture those days of sanity and civility from so long ago…guess we just have to keep ‘leading by example’ and perhaps they’ll catch on again?


    • Ah, Merci!! I also love Louis Ferrand’s “Soir de Paris” by Bourjois illustration! So very glamorous. And pricey, I’m certain! But what fun! The Hôtel Ritz is currently getting a make-over. It’s scheduled to re-open in 2014. I’m nervous. I hope they don’t erase too much of the past. Sigh!

      Let me know what you think of the film! Do you have a favorite theater in Chicago?



      • Actually, I haven’t been in a theater for the past nine years, Mlle B. It is so very difficult to sit in one spot that long, due to the back and leg pain. I mostly watch DVDs, both my own and those from the library, or I go to one of the movie sites (Hulu, Internet Archive, even YouTube) to find something ‘noir’. Love old films…but I am from that era of some truly great ones!



    I really like this for angles and perspective and gives me ideas for some of my own things yet to be drawn.


    • YES. I plan to create a few more posts about Robert and Sonia Delaunay. I’m also smitten! T. (And speaking of art and inspiration, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your cartoons. I smile each time I spot one. Thank you!!)


  14. I’M SHOCKED!! I picked up Volk’s book last night. T. Started at 6 am and am half way through it. LOVE IT. Talk about reviving memories. Sometimes I think it is my Mother talking as she puts on mascara from that narrow red box. The tiny brush – the worn part in the middle of the black mascara – the Pond’s cold cream instead of soap. I love her writing, and must slow up and savour every word. V


  15. Great post, Theadora. Many thanks for sharing these cocktail recipes, made me thirsty just imagining how they all taste. I’d love to try the Royal Romance first because I love Grand Marnier. 😉


    • I remembered! That’s exactly why the “Royal Romance” is on the list! I almost added, “This one is for you, Malou” to the post! Stay tuned for a post about César Ritz, Grand Marnier and Marnier-Lapostolle. Interesting history. Enjoy the weekend! T.


  16. Pingback: Paris Sunset: 3 Drinks with Vintage Appeal | People, Places and Bling!

  17. Hmmm… Pastis an R Dalauney. Happy memories. Conflicted about familiar Paris but yes, happy thoughts.. ‘also recall, v. vaguely that Zelda FtzG was mad and cruel. So boo (and indeed hiss) to her (for cruelty, at least). Beautiful post nonetheless, regardless what date. I enjoyed.


  18. Thirsty Thursday (and any day ending in -y) is here again! 🙂 Wonderful post! Loved the mix of the literary, which you so obviously love, and the libation-minded. Reminded me of a few favorite places in Chicago here for cocktails – Ada St. and Maria’s Packaged Goods – but it would be lovely to make some of these at home, too! Cheers, and hope you’re well!


  19. Thank God its after 3pm here on the Coast! Between this post and the one before I am ready for a cocktail. I certainly must not be the first to tell you I think you’re the only girl I’ve heard of who played Zelda when it was make-believe time. Then again, I did like Lady Brett in “the Sun Also Rises”…it wasn’t until I read it for the 2nd (3rd?) time in high school that I realized she was a total flake. The idea of being carried around the San Fermines by a throng of drunken Spaniards who worship me like an icon was sooo appealing!


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