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ENTERTAINING : California Parties--Past and Future : When Hollywood Drinks : The Thin Man and James Bond agree: When it comes to a proper martini, it's shake, never stir.

November 04, 1990|LAURIE OCHOA | Ochoa is a Times staff writer.

Although "The Apartment," made in 1960, shows the "martooni" (as one character calls it) still going strong enough, the film features libations that would have made Nick Charles reach for his gun: frozen daiquiris in a Chinese restaurant, the deservedly obscure rum collins, and a Tom and Jerry made with hot whiskey (or bourbon), eggs, sugar, Jamaican rum, cinnamon, cloves and hot milk. Ray Walston (pre-Martian) brings his own, arriving by cab to Jack Lemmon's pad armed with his mistress and four long-stemmed glasses filled to the brim with the vile brandy and creme de menthe mixture known as a stinger.

Clearly the cocktail, while surviving, had lost its classic reserve. As the '60s progressed, the cocktail was mostly used as date aid for bachelors on the make. Meanwhile, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" didn't really care what they drank as long as there was ice. By the time "A Clockwork Orange" was made--its futuristic Korova Milkbar, served not liquor, but drug-spiked milk--the cocktail was in big trouble. Fortunately a few good drinking men were still around--suave, sophisticated men who could hold their liquor with style: men like James Bond.

Thanks to his creator, Ian Fleming, 007 has perhaps the most detailed drinking preferences of all of Hollywood's star characters. Not only should a James Bond dry martini be shaken (never stirred despite the fact that shaking will cause the ice to start melting), it should be served in a deep Champagne goblet. In "Casino Royale" Fleming gives the exact recipe for the perfect Bond martini: three measures of Gordon's gin, one of vodka, and half a measure of Kina Lillet, shaken until ice-cold, and served topped with a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Unfortunately for easily disillusioned Bond fans, martini experts point out that Kina Lillet has quinine in it and would tend to make a martini bitter.

One of Bond's favorite alternatives is bourbon on the rocks--Old Grand Dad, Walker's Deluxe or I. W. Harper, please. He's also partial to old fashioneds and Negronis (1/3 gin, 1/3 Campari and 1/3 red Cinzano). In outdoor cafes, say in Paris, Bond shuns vodka, whiskey and gin. Although Pernod is proper for such an occasion, legend has it that Bond won't drink the stuff because the licorice taste reminds him of his childhood. Instead, he drinks Americanos (Campari, Cinzano, soda and a large slice of lemon peel) while dining alfresco.

Unfortunately, James Bond cannot single-handedly save the world for cocktail fans, and frankly, it's much easier for bartender-less party hosts if their guests drink beer, wine, or the hard stuff straight or on the rocks. The obvious drift is toward the simpler drinks. Except for the occasional vamp, that's what we're seeing on the screen. But if you long for the concoctions of former days, we recommend Hollywood's Musso and Frank. It's benefits: a star-studded clientele (many from the good old days); movie-set decor (\o7 real\f7 red-leather booths), and a bartender who never forgets a face. Here Hollywood's Golden Age lives on--and the martini is still king.

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