Tag Archives: history

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 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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