How to Drink Like Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra Helicopter Drink
Pictured in the dictionary under “Cool”
Source: ApocsBlog

I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.
—FRANK SINATRA

Ol’ Blue Eyes is alleged to have been buried with a bottle of Jack Daniels in his pocket, a tidbit at the center of Jack Daniel’s latest marketing campaign, which includes an exhibition at the Savoy Hotel in London (England, not Ohio, if you were confused) and the release of a special bottling of Jack Daniels called Sinatra Select. It’s available only in airport duty-free stores, so at £150 you know its a good deal….

But while I’m always willing to tap my hat to the joy of a few fingers of brown liquor, this is a cocktail blog. Let’s talk instead about the man and his cocktails, as discussed in part by The Independent’s Dish of the Day blog. Sinatra always stayed at the Savoy when he was performing in London, and after his shows, he would retire to the American Bar to wind down. His drink of choice at those times was a dry Martini.

He’d go for a classic Martini – Beefeater gin with a shadow of vermouth, served on the rocks with a twist of lemon. And we had to make sure his glass was filled with ice.
—Victor Gower, Head Barman at the American Bar 1946-1985

Since he’s the Chairman of the Board, I guess he can be forgiven having his Martini on the rocks. Ditto for the vermouth aversion. But only for him. You need to drink your Gospel of Gin “up”, with a goodly pour of vermouth!

This picture is an example. Frank looks cool with a Martini on the rocks in his hand. This other dude….

And even Sinatra looks better when he has his Martini up, as seen below in a rare photo of him being out cooled by Bing Crosby in High Society

Now that I’ve had some fun, there are two points I’d like to make about what both Gower and his successor Peter Dorelli say about Sinatra’s visits to the American Bar.

The first is that he was very particular about the details of his drinks. On its own, this is a fine and admirable trait. I am quite particular about what I drink. A cocktail is, or should be, a precision creation. But Frank sounds like he was kind of a dick about it, which is neither fine nor admirable. He didn’t like to talk to the bartenders himself, even when standing at the bar, but if any detail was not to his liking, “everyone would know about it,” notes Dorelli.

No one is too good to talk to their bartender. No. One. And if you find something wrong with your drink, cordially and quietly let the bartender know how you would like it fixed. If it keeps happening, go to another bar. Or, if you are Frank Sinatra and you only drink at this bar, have the offending mixer put in a car trunk and driven to the fens. But do it quietly, as there is no need to embarrass the guy in the process!

Balancing out this minor rudeness is a major plus: He liked to play the piano. Most bars do not like it when their guests take it upon themselves to sit at the piano and start to play. (And by you, I mean me. (And probably you.)) But when said guest is Frank Sinatra, exceptions must be made.
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The impromptu performances were more for his own benefit than for any fortunate guests who happened to be listening, but they have become the stuff of music legend.
The Telegraph


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  1. chris mahoney

    29 April

    “That other dude” was the world-famous comedian Joe E. Lewis who was one of Frank’s favorite people. As to rudeness, that was Frank’s trademark. When he was working at Mercury in the late 40s, Mitch Miler was the A&R man, and he made Frank record novelty songs. Fast forward a decade, Miller walks up to Frank’s table at the Desert Inn, extends his hand and Frank says “Fuck you”. Later, he got his casino credit cut off at the DI (which is admittedly unbelievable, given his wealth) and he drove his gold cart through the front window and never spoke to Jack Entratter again. He was 100% Sicilian. Not charming, not a gentleman, not a good person, just a genius.

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  2. Kevin

    12 March

    Why do you “need” to drink your martini with Vermouth?

    To quote Winston Churchill:

    “I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my martini.“

    When I was a bartender, I was taught to hold a vermouth over the glass, but not to take the top off.

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  3. Kevin

    4 February

    Kevin,

    Exactly. Wave the vermouth around the glass with the cap on.

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  4. Monty Aidem

    22 March

    Interesting story! I enjoyed it. By the way, Frank Sinatra had a curious habit of stirring his drink with his index finger, according to Tony Consiglio, who traveled with Frank for many of the early years. It’s in the book Sinatra and Me, by Tony Consiglio, with Franz Douskey, which is a great account of being on the road, and in the middle of the action, with Frank Sinatra.

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