Category Archives: Cocktail History

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 Atomic Cocktail

Las Vegas Atomic Test 1951Las Vegas, January 11, 1951 – The US Department of Energy establishes the Nevada Proving Ground (now known as the Nevada Test Site) 65 miles northwest of the city for the testing of nuclear devices.  Little was known about the effects of nuclear blasts at the time, and above ground, or atmospheric, testing was seen as a necessary step towards the development of our atomic future.  Mushroom clouds from these tests could be seen for almost 100 miles, especially from the glamorous hotels and casinos along Fremont Street. Continue reading The Atomic Cocktail

Classic Movie Cocktail Scenes: Jim Backus, an airplane, and multiple Old Fashioneds

Jim Backus Mad Mad WorldCocktails have played a part in motion pictures since the very beginning, over 100 years ago now.  Cocktails can serve many purposes: they can establish a characters background and up bringing, add sophistication or lack of it, say something about the characters social status, become a characters weakness or crutch, add humor to a scene or heartbreak.

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The car with a passenger seat bar

Glendale, California 1951 – Earl “Madman” Muntz begins production of what he calls the Muntz Jet, a re-branding of Frank Kurtis’s two seater sports car, the Kurtis Kraft Sport.  Muntz, a fixture in Southern California widely known for his ‘Madman’ persona and  flamboyant, groundbreaking television commercials, had started out selling used cars in 1934.

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