All posts by markbarclay

Founder of Unkie Monkie Studios, Mark Barclay Design, Beautiful Surfaces, and Form Function Style, Mark was raised on a healthy dose of classic film, big band music, classical music, and ballroom dance. This eclectic and varied upbringing, in addition to a voracious appetite for nineteenth and twentieth-century ephemera, heavily influences all of Mark's work, be it surface design, art licensing, photography, advertising, cocktail history and culture, film, music, or architecture. In addition to his design work, he is also active in architectural preservation, swing and salsa dancing, and the craft cocktail movement. For more of Mark's work, visit FormFunctionStyle.com

Carousel Cocktail

carousel-cocktailA prohibition era style cocktail, the Carousel Cocktail is a modern riff on the oddly named Japalac Cocktail.  Japalac was an extremely popular tinted varnish from Glidden that was heavily advertised on billboards, in magazines, and on radio – so recognizable that it eventually ended up having a cocktail named after it, as was the style (I remember a cocktail named after the TV series “Miami Vice” in the mid-1980s).  After making the rounds of many cocktail lounges, the Japalac Cocktail made its first appearance in print in 1931.

This cocktail has a nice balance between sweet and sour and is not too alcohol forward.

Carousel Cocktail

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz raspberry syrup
  • 1 oz lime juice

Shake all with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

The Phoenix Cooler

Phoenix Cooler
Phoenix Cooler

I came up with this cocktail at the request of that Ambassador of Americana, Charles Phoenix.  At the time, we were planning a podcast for the Test Kitchen section of his wonderful site.  There was a kitschy recipe for a party platter that resembled a clown/circus theme that we were going to construct, and I suggested we should have an equally festive cocktail to go with the party theme.  It needed to be tasty, but not too sweet, and have every kitschy Tiki-style garnish I could think of.  Originally I called it the Clown Cooler, but we ended up shooting the podcast later in the year and by that time we had abandoned the circus theme.  Henceforth, the cocktail became the Phoenix Cooler in honor of Mr. Phoenix.  It’s as kitschy and colorful as he is, and it’s quite tasty as well.

The Phoenix Cooler

  • 2 oz white rum
  • 1.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz blueberry concentrate or syrup (available at IKEA)
  • 1/2 oz orgeat
  • Thinly sliced strawberry, lime and lemon
  • Luxardo cherry
  • Umbrella pick for garnish

Add all ingredients to a bar glass filled with ice and stir well.  Strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice.  Stack the strawberry, lemon and lime slices as well as the Luxardo cherry and pierce with the stem of an umbrella pick for garnish.

A Nolet’s Vesper at The Big 4 restaurant and bar, San Francisco

Vesper @ Big 4 Dec 2014
A Nolet’s Vesper at The Big 4

During my 2014 winter holiday travels in the San Francisco Bay Area I made the trek to a few of the wonderful bars and lounges, both historic and new, that San Francisco has to offer.

I remembered that my old friend Peter Mintun once played (for 16 years) at the famous L’Etoile restaurant and bar on Nob Hill, and that it (and the Huntington Hotel it is part of) had recently undergone a multi-million dollar restoration.  The restaurant and bar had changed previously into The Big 4, and the hotel is now known as the Scarlet Huntington San Francisco.  Happily, they have kept the historic feel to the bar and restaurant, and it feels like walking into a piece of San Francisco history.  What a wonderful respite from an afternoon of shopping, and a climb up the famously steep Taylor street to the top of Nob Hill.  The cocktail menu features several classics as well as contemporary craft cocktail creations.  I was treated to a classic Vesper (Ian Fleming’s famous creation from his 1953 novel Casino Royale) made with Nolet’s gin, which brings light floral notes to the vodka and lillet.  Why didn’t I think of using Nolet’s for this cocktail!  I will from now on.

Dispelling the Myth of the Coupe

During the 17th century, while the French Benedictine monk Dom Perignon was still trying to figure out a way to rid his wines of the unfashionable bubbles showing up in some of his bottles, the English royalty were embracing this new wine with bubbles.  It became so popular, in fact, that in 1663 the English developed a new shape of glass to enhance the aroma of this bubbly wine from the Champagne region of France – and thus, the Champagne Coupe (or Saucer) was born.  Notice that this date is a full 100 years before Marie Antoinette or Madame de Pompadour even existed – two of the French aristocrats who’s bust lines are commonly accredited with creating the shape of the glass.  Thus dispels the myth that still seems to titillate the schoolboy set.  I’ve never understood why a glass shape that small should entrance imaginations.  Surely any paramour that flat chested wouldn’t stand a chance creating an image as a legendary lover.

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Classic Movie Cocktail Scenes: All About Eve

All About EveOne of the finest examples of cocktails enhancing a film is writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1950 masterpiece All About Eve.  The story of a Broadway legend, the people in her orbit, and the ruthless newcomer she takes under her wing, it stands out as one of the finest films ever made about the Broadway theater.  A crackling script lets the larger than life Bette Davis rip and tear into everyone and everything around her, aided almost always by a steady stream of Martinis and Champagne.  Whether it’s at a birthday party at her penthouse, or dinner at the exclusive Cub Room inside the Stork Club, cocktails are an essential prop for Miss Davis’ character Margo Channing – much like a cigar was an essential prop for George Burns.

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Classic Movie Cocktail Scenes: The Thin Man

the thin manPerhaps no other single film has done more for popularizing a single cocktail than the delightfully effervescent “Thin Man” film series (or ‘franchise’).  Based on characters created by Dashiell Hammett, the first film in the franchise is an adaptation of his bestselling novel “The Thin Man,” first published in 1934 in the magazine Redbook.  The film was released the same year, and became an instant hit.  Although it was the last novel Hammett would write, it spawned 5 film sequels.

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The Stork Club

One of the posh Manhattan destinations on anyone’s list during its heyday, which was just about the entire time it was in operation, being seen at The Stork Club meant you had officially ‘arrived’.  Opened in 1929 by ex-bootlegger Sherman Billingsley, influential columnist Walter Winchell called it “New York’s New Yorkiest place on West 58th.”  Indeed, it was located on West 58th Street for the first 5 years of its existence, then when prohibition ended it moved to 3 East 53rd Street where it would remain until its final day of operation on October 4th, 1965.  The building was demolished in 1966, and Paley Park now stands in its place.

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