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Thursday, 10 May 2012

They say he killed a man...

THE cocktail generation of the Roaring 20s gained a certain piquant currency with The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald’s scathing satire of the rich and their hangers-on in Long Island and New York City.

Three quarters of the way through the novel, during a “broiling” afternoon, the group – Tom Buchanan, wife Daisy, her chum Jordan and narrator Nick Carraway – attempt to cool down by drinking Gin Rickeys with plenty of ice.
When that doesn’t work they make their way, at Daisy’s suggestion, to the city as a diversion from the heat.
Tom has brought a bottle of whiskey and the group end up in a plush hotel suite, tempers, mostly that of Tom, beginning to fray as the love affair between Jay Gatsby and Daisy becomes all too obvious.
More cocktails are called for to bring the temperature down a little. A waiter is summoned to bring glasses, mint and crushed ice.
This time the gang are about to have Mint Juleps, courtesy of Tom's bourbon.
As his heated interrogation of Gatsby’s credentials as a gentleman – an “Oxford man” in particular – begin to grate and embarrass the others, Daisy attempts futilely to intervene.
All this goes to show that despite the – for the most part – delightful benefits of  having cocktails with chums, the exercise doesn’t always work, not least when “Mr Nobody from Nowhere make(s) love to your wife”.
The difficulties thrown up by sultry days, extra marital affairs, sulking toffs and the class system are rarely solved by a revivifying cocktail, no matter how much ice is inserted to temper the mix.
That said, the two delicacies aforementioned, if sipped among friendly company, might elevate such an alliance to a highly sophisticated level. Right, old sport?

Gin Rickey
(This, to some throats, might taste not unlike a Gimlet, made famous by another American novelist Raymond Chandler, it being the drink of choice of his gumshoe, Philip Marlowe. The picture above I took of a Gimlet I made recently but if anyone served you a Gin Rickey, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference – in taste... the Rickey is served in a tall glass filled with ice. So, ya boo and sucks, etc).

2oz gin (Bombay Sapphire is the one I like, but they don’t pay me. Yet…)
½oz fresh lime juice
Soda water or Perrier
Wedge of lime
Place a few ice cubes in a highball glass
Add gin and lime wedge.
Sip graciously through a straw or if you’re Tom Buchanan, gulp.

Mint Julep
(I’ve had this in one or two decent cocktail spots in London, not least the top floor of Waterstone’s bookstore in Piccadilly, and it’s often served in a rather fetching stainless steel tumbler, the metal of which, if placed in the freezer beforehand, keeps the cocktail very chilly indeed. Just the job to calm tempers.)

2oz bourbon
A few mint leaves
1 tsp powdered sugar
2 tsp water
Place the non alcoholic ingredients in the glass then fill up with shaved or crushed ice
Pour in the booze
Top with more ice and decorate with sprig of mint.
Serve with a straw.

Leonardo di Caprio and Carey Mulligan will soon hit the big screens as Gatsby and Daisy in an extravagant remake of the legendary 1974 classic with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. 
Minus her sash, of course.
The latter refers to the flop she made about the Irish Troubles – The Sash Mia Farrow Wore.

Meanwhile, feast your lugs on this...

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