Monday, March 16, 2009

my favorite cocktail


Like few flowers, you’ve the juice
to be my favorite cocktail, Lin-
da. Playing love with you it’s deuce
until I drink you up and win.

Take bright flowers from your garden,
lay them freshly-cut upon
our bed, a tennis-court in Arden
when we’ll play a marathon.

Before the sunrise, we’ll ignore
the rules because there’ll be no um-
pire, or a need to keep the score
each time that we together come.
Inspired by Eric Felten’s article (“He Was a Cocktail Artist,” WSJ, March 14, 2009) on cocktails created in Antibes by Gerald Murphy and his wife Sara for “the socialites who served as the thinly veiled source material for the novel's central characters, Dick and Nicole Diver.

The Murphys' seaside salon at Antibes hosted a circle of friends who defined art and literature in the 1920s -- regular guests included not only Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, but Hemingway, Picasso, Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker, Archibald MacLeish and Robert Benchley. This pantheon sunned the days away at the beach and enjoyed impeccable dinners under the grand silver linden tree that framed the garden at the Murphys' Villa America.” Felten writes:
Murphy was fastidious in the preparation of drinks. But also a bit coy: When asked what he put in this concoction or that, he would invariably reply, "Just the juice of a few flowers." If that phrase sounds familiar, you might recall the denouement of "The Philadelphia Story," when a woozy Tracy Lord, played by Katharine Hepburn, awakens to realize an overindulgence in champagne the night before has knocked her off her pedestal. Tracy's ex-husband, played by Cary Grant, makes a Stinger for her as a hangover remedy. Hepburn asks what's in it, and Grant replies: "The juice of a few flowers." Philip Barry, the author of "The Philadelphia Story," was one of Murphy's closest friends and had taken particular note of Gerald's way with a cocktail shaker, which Barry described as being "like a priest preparing Mass."…
But perhaps it was there on the terrace of the Villa America, tossing back Bailey cocktails, that Hemingway acquired his taste for tart, unsugared drinks. Decades later in Cuba, Hemingway famously preferred his Daiquiris without sugar, and the special Papa Doble version he favored bears a telling resemblance to the Bailey. Not that Hemingway would have acknowledged it. His eagerness to defend the Murphys would later be replaced with a vicious contempt for them. Round about his fourth marriage, Hemingway started thinking that it might have been best if he had stuck with his first wife, Hadley. He came to blame the Murphys for introducing him to the homewrecker for whom he left her. He particularly berated himself for once having read aloud to the couple the yet-unpublished manuscript for "The Sun Also Rises." That, Hemingway wrote in "A Moveable Feast," "is about as low as a writer can get and much more dangerous for him as a writer than glacier skiing unroped before the full winter snowfall has set over the crevices." Such was the thanks Murphy got for making Hemingway a first-rate drink.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 3/14/09

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