Monday Movie Bars: Of All the Gin Joints…
As of today, I’m going to be taking my Monday posts in a different direction. If you are a fan of the Coen brothers, then you know the way in which the setting in their films is often as important as one of the main characters. Think about the movie Fargo, for example. What would it be without all of those open snowy landscapes? I love movies. I love going to see them in theaters and I love watching them at home. I’ve wrapped quite a few of my more personal blog posts around them. So my wheels were spinning as I tried to come up with a new Monday series that could incorporate films without venturing too far into Friday Musings territory. And then it hit me! How about cocktails based on famous bars in movies? Fun, right? You’re excited? So am I.
I thought I’d kick things off with one of the most famous movie bars of all time: Rick’s Café Américain in the 1942 film Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz. It’s one of those movies that everyone says is a must-see and they are absolutely right. Humphrey Bogart is handsome, Ingrid Bergman is beautiful, and their story is as heartbreaking as anything Nicholas Sparks has ever written. It’s December of 1941 and Rick Blaine is an American expatriate who owns an elegant and upscale nightclub and bar in Casablanca, Morocco, where most of the film’s action takes place. We know that Rick has suffered some kind of a great loss in his life that has left him feeling incredibly sad and bitter. We also know that he never wants to hear his house pianist, Sam, play the song “As Time Goes By” ever again. Before long, Ilsa Lund enters the bar and asks Sam to play that very song, and we learn the reason why Rick suffers so. He and Ilsa had been in love in Paris, but she left him without an explanation when she learned that her husband that she thought was dead was actually still alive. She still loves Rick, but she needs his help to escape to America with her husband. It’s an impossible situation that leaves them no other choice but to be apart forever.
For today’s cocktail, I focused on one of the most famous lines in the movie, spoken by Rick to Sam not longer after he sees Ilsa again. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” What possible choice did that leave me other than to create a cocktail with gin as my base spirit? I wanted the drink to be something as elegant and beautiful as the movie’s co-stars and setting. I chose Fabrizia Spirits cream limoncello as my secondary spirit, and added lemon juice and simple syrup on either side of it. In building the cocktail, I began by muddling in basil and rosemary to bring in a fresh herbal flavor, and finished things off with two dashes of Jack Rudy lavender bitters. In terms of symbolism, lemons represent bitterness and disappointment, basil means love, lavender means devotion, and rosemary is remembrance, of course. This cocktail is just a simple sour, but its ingredients are meant to reflect Rick’s emotional journey. In the end he chooses to let Ilsa go, as she knows she must, but they both do so with the realization that they’ll remain in one another’s hearts forever. Cheers everyone. Happy Monday!
Of All the Gin Joints…
2 oz Bluecoat gin
¼ oz Fabrizia Cream limoncello
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
2 dashes Jack Rudy lavender bitters
Basil leaves and a rosemary sprig
Gently muddle the basil and rosemary with the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker tin. Remember that with herbs you don’t want to be too aggressive or their flavors will turn bitter. Add the remaining ingredients along with some ice and shake until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Enjoy!