Paris Lullaby: Ritzy Aperitifs + Art = Bliss
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”