October 6, 2015
Well, if you don’t know Casino Royale from the movies or books, where have you been hiding? It’s the first James Bond-ing, for super-spy sake! Here’s a secret between us, though. I actually hadn’t read the book, until a few weeks back, when I was traveling in the UK. It was the perfect time, and you know what – the book holds up. Both as a thriller, but also as a character study. Everything gets over-done and distilled somewhat over time, but if you like a good quick read and aren’t opposed to spies and such, and haven’t read it, give it a whirl. It’s better than the movie! And, while the Vesper quote is duly famous, it has other memorable drinking scenes and drinks, too. Check the below, for an example:
The room was sumptuous with those over-masculine trappings which, together with briar pipes and wire-haired terriers, spell luxury in France. Everything was brass-studded leather and polished mahogany. The curtains and carpets were in royal blue. The waiters wore striped waistcoats and green baize aprons. Bond ordered an Americano and examined the sprinkling of over-dressed customers, mostly from Paris he guessed, who sat talking with focus and vivacity, creating that theatrically clubbable atmosphere of ‘l’heure de l’apéritif’.
The men were drinking inexhaustible quarter-bottles of Champagne, the women dry Martinis.
— Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
PS: That “Americano” would be the drink, if you’re wondering, not the coffee, which is a more recent way of moniker-ing that style of java.
May 15, 2015
Friends, the weather is heating up. The ol’ Mercury is rising. The sunshine is taking over its annual spot as the meteorological top dog. The sweat is starting to tickle you just behind the ear (well, maybe it’s not that steamy yet, but you get the idea). And when that starts happening, I know one thing for sure. It’s Americano time!
Since 1860, when Gaspare Campari served it at his bar, calling it the Milano-Torino in honor of Campari (his bitter red liqueur from Milan) and Cinzano vermouth (from Turin), this has been a hot-weather hit. The name was changed thanks to the large number of visiting Americans (especially soldiers, at the time) who fell in the love with the drink. Being an American that visits Italy yearly, I love that story – as well as the drink.
The Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)
2 ounces Campari
2 ounces sweet vermouth
Chilled club soda
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir gently.
2. Add club soda to the glass until the glass is almost full. Garnish with an orange slice.
February 17, 2009
Cut the clamoring–I know I sloshed it up about Kingsley Amis just down the page, but I wanted to get another quote in quick, before I forget (hey, I’m getting older by the day. Just like you by the way). The following is from the second part of Everyday Drinking, called, strangely, “Every Day Drinking,” which is a collection of columns Mr. Amis wrote for some London newspaper I haven’t yet tracked down, cause I was too busy writing this. Each column is shortish and on a different subject, making them brilliant bus reads (not as brilliant as a Herbie the Fat Fury comic, but darn close). The following quote’s near to my heart cause it’s about Campari, which I love, and about drinks using it–drinks I also love, if I may be so bold:
Next in line comes Campari, which as everyone knows has made an immense impression on the British market in the last twenty years or so. Not my cup of tea, alas. But, hurray, an acceptable drink can be cobbled together from this and another innocuous potation. Take two parts Italian vermouth and one part Campari (or in another recipe, one of each), mix them with ice and add Pellegrino or soda water and a slice of orange, and you have an Americano. Good at lunchtime, and before Italian food.
If you feel that, pleasant as it is, it still lack something, throw in a shot of gin and the result is a Negroni. This is a really fine invention. It has the power, rare with drinks and indeed with anything else, of cheering you up. This may be down to the Campari, said by its fans to have great restorative powers.
–Kingsley Amis, Everyday Drinking