On one corner of the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Hollywood, California in the 1930s, there stood a hotel named the Hollywood Hotel. Built in 1902, it had become a place where many of the most famous movie stars stayed while working on films. Despite the fact that Prohibition was in full force during this time, actors were looking for alcohol and many private venues were opened to answer that demand. One such place that sprung up on another corner of that same intersection was called the Hi-Ho Club, which served a good number of Prohibition-era cocktails, and others created right there and named after celebrities. One of these drinks caught my eye as I was doing some research for today’s post. It was called The Marlene Dietrich and was crafted at the Hi-Ho Club sometime around 1931.
Known for her androgynous style, which defied Hollywood’s standards at the time, and her amazing legs, Marlene Dietrich was a movie star with unusual glamour and unlikely fame. It seems fitting that the cocktail named after her had whiskey as its base spirit, an ingredient you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in a drink named after a woman back in 1931. But then again Dietrich routinely wore men’s suits, and had a very famous scene in the movie Morocco in which she kisses another woman, which was downright scandalous at that time. The Marlene Dietrich cocktail combines Canadian whisky (or an American rye), orange curaçao, and Angostura bitters with some citrus shaken (or muddled for more flavor) right into the drink. The end result is like a cross between and old-fashioned and a whiskey sour. The lemon wedge is an absolute must as a garnish for this drink. It’s reported that Dietrich liked to suck on lemons while on set becaused she believed they would ward off wrinkles around her mouth. Following Dale de Groff’s recipe for the drink in his Craft of the Cocktail book, I included the orange wedge garnish as well.
The Marlene Dietrich
2 oz Caldera Distilling Canadian Whisky Hurricane 5 (or your favorite Canadian whisky)
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao (Grand Marnier is another option)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 orance slice
1 lemon slice
Combine all the ingredients in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for about 20 seconds until cold. Double strain into an old-fashioned glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with 1 lemon wedge and 1 orange wedge. Enjoy!