With highballs, coolers, slings, and fizzes, there's no era that defines cocktail culture quite like the roaring twenties. And now 100 years later as we enter a new cocktail revolution centered around quality ingredients and fun concoctions, a new drink recipe book is helping us all bring a little Jazz Age-style into our homes.
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Introduced in conjunction with the highly-anticipated Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things exhibition at London's National Portrait Gallery, Cecil Beaton’s Cocktail Book ($24.95; barnesandnoble.com) is half recipe book from Denis Broci—head barman at American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property Claridge's—and half historical ode to Cecil Beaton, the renowned society photographer who captured London’s young and dazzling Bright Young Things.
Who were the Bright Young People? While 1920s America gave rise to speakeasies, London's roaring twenties had a glamorous group of aristocrats, middle-class adventurers, and bohemian artists that were too young to fight in the First World War, instead, embracing a life of lavish partying. They'd lounge in luxurious clubs, attend balls at Claridge’s, and throw raucous parties in the city and countryside. Some of the most memorable exploits include the Mozart Party, where the menu came from a cookbook owned by Louis XVI and the notorious Bath and Bottle Party where guests were instructed to bring a bathing suit, towel, and a bottle to the St. George’s Swimming Baths in London. One newspaper columnist wrote of the party at the time:
"Great rubber horses and flowers floated about in the water, which was illuminated by colored spotlights. Many of those present brought two or three bathing costumes, which they changed in the course of the night's festivities. Cocktails were served in the gallery, where the cocktail-mixers evidently found the heat intolerable, for they also donned bathing costumes at the earliest opportunity. A special cocktail, christened the Bathwater Cocktail, was invented for the occasion."
So while a visit to the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition might be off the cards for a while, this new book is teeming with twenties recipes inspired by Beaton and his Bright Young social sphere. Here we bring you three cocktails to try at home.
A drink to whisk those who enjoy it high into the blue sky. Its pale blue color comes from the violet liqueur, although the International Bartenders Association (IBA) official cocktail leaves this out.
1 2/3 oz Plymouth Gin
1/6 oz Crème de violette
1/6 oz maraschino
2/3 oz lemon juice
1/6 oz sugar syrup
Method: shake and fine strain into a frozen martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.
A delightfully rich elixir of fresh ingredients and spirits. The frothy-topped and garish pink mixture might not seem the height of sophistication, but it was the firm favorite of the high-minded lawyers and writers of the pre-Prohibition gentleman’s club in Philadelphia from which it takes its name.
1 2/3 oz Plymouth Gin
5/6 oz lemon juice
2/3 oz egg white
1/3 oz raspberry syrup
3 fresh raspberries
Method: Shake vigorously – more than normal – to properly mix the egg white and raspberry syrup, and fine strain into a frozen coupette. Garnish with three fresh raspberries on a cocktail stick.
A somewhat Byzantine take on a Manhattan and a veritable confluence of flavors and source materials. The Vieux Carré is named for the ‘Old Square’ French Quarter of New Orleans, where the drink originated in the late 1930s.
5/6 oz Rémy Martin VSOP
5/6 oz Michter’s Rye
5/6 oz Punt e Mes Carpano
1/3 oz Bénédictine
2 drops of Angostura Bitters
2 drops of Peychaud’s Bitters
Method: Stir all ingredients and pour into a frozen old-fashioned glass with an ice block. Garnish with lemon twist.