Smithsonian Cocktail Blogging

The Smithsonian’s Food & Think blog has an enjoyable read about how cocktails figure in some great books, entitled Slurred Lines: Great Cocktail Moments in Famous Literature. The literary stories are supplemented with a few videos from movies and documentaries. I’ll quote a few examples in an attempt to whet your appetite to read the whole post.

The lead drink is the Ramos Gin Fizz, which among many other stories features prominently in both Walker Percy’s own life, and his book Love in the Ruins.

Dr. Thomas More defies his egg white allergy by downing gin fizz after gin fizz with Lola, his lover. “These drinks feel silky and benign,” he muses—until seven fizzes later, he breaks out in hives and his throat starts to close. More’s brush with death mirrors Walker Percy’s own: the writer once went into anaphylactic shock after drinking gin fizzes with (luckily for him) a Bellevue nurse. Percy later wrote in his 1975 essay, “Bourbon”: “Anybody who monkeys around with gin and egg white deserves what he gets. I should have stuck with Bourbon and have from that day to this.”

Walker is a fine writer, and bourbon is a fine spirit, but a mere egg white allergy is no reason to swear off gin!

Of course, no good cocktail article goes without some controversial assertions. I’ll point certain of my regular readers to the assertion that a Gimlet can be made without Rose’s (and with vodka)…. And then there is this curious assertion:

In his 1940 autobiographical work Dusk of Dawn, W.E.B. Du Bois draws a caricature of a hypocritical white minister as a well-bred man in Brooks Brothers clothes who “plays keen golf, smokes a rare weed and knows a Bronx cocktail from a Manhattan.” For the record, the main difference between the two cocktails is the liquor—a Bronx is made with gin and a Manhattan with rye.

Um, for the record, the orange juice, which the post just discussed in interesting detail, is a fairly major difference too, n’est pas?


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