Cocktails in the Time of Quarantine

In recent days, you’ve likely seen the letter that Scott Fitzgerald purportedly wrote in 1920, describing his days of quarantine in the South of France during the Spanish Influenza pandemic.  The letter, which is actually a parody, was written by Nick Farriella for the humor web site McSweeney’s.  More on the letter can be found here:

In the letter, Fitzgerald complained that his friend Ernest Hemingway was something of a “denier” about the flu, and that Hemingway refused to stop visiting his favorite bars during the crisis.  When Scot chided him about his selfishness, Hemingway punched him in the stomach – and he didn’t even have the decency to wash his hands!

The letter, of course, is fiction, but sometimes truth is even more interesting than fiction.  You see, there actually was a situation involving Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the South of France, but it happened six years later, in 1926.

You see, both Hemingway and Fitzgerald were good friends with an amazing couple by the name of Sara and Gerald Murphy.  To say that they were merely wealthy American socialites would sell them far short.  Gerald decided to step away from his position with luxury goods manufacturer Mark Cross, and devoted his time to the study of art, and produced a number of acclaimed paintings throughout the 1920s.  Sara was an amazing hostess, and their dinner parties, both in Paris and at their summer home, Villa America in Cap d’Antibes, were legendary.  They were perhaps best known for the company they kept, as they surrounded themselves with some of the most compelling figures of the day, from Hemingway to Scott and Zelda, John Dos Passos, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Archibald and Ada MacLeish, the list goes on.

EH 6949P Pamplona, Spain, summer 1926. L-R (at table): Gerald Murphy, Sara Murphy, Pauline Pfeiffer, Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Hemingway. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Shown above are Gerald and Sara Murphy, Pauline Pfieffer, Hadley and Ernest Hemingway, July, 1926, during the Fiesta of San Fermin in Pamplona

In the summer of 1926, Ernest and Hadley Hemingway and their toddler son Jack were invited to join the Murphys for an extended visit at Villa America.  Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Archibald and Ada MacLeish had rented nearby villas.  Ernest had was actually in Madrid, finishing the final draft of what would become his first true novel, The Sun Also Rises.  He arranged to travel by train to meet Hadley and Jack, aka Bumby, in Cap d’Antibes.  Unfortunately, Jack came down with whooping cough, and had to be quarantined.  In the words of Hadley:

“I remember once we went down to visit Gerald and Sara Murphy at Antibes – they had just discovered Ernest and were crazy about him and asked us down with our son, Jack, to play with their children. We stayed in an awfully cute little guest house they had, but Jack got the whooping cough. He was very small and very cute, but the whooping cough scared the Murphys, who had three children, and they were very, very particular about the least germ.  So, though perfectly wonderful hosts, they said they couldn’t let us stay, because we wouldn’t be able to keep the children apart. At that point Scott Fitzgerald came forward.  He had a villa at Juan-les-Pins, just down the beach, and Scott, just out of the goodness of his heart, gave us his villa.  He said that he had another villa that he was going to move into shortly when the rental of the one we took was over.  So he moved ahead of time and gave us this place.”

A typical day in the South of France with the Murphys

As an aside, in recent days I’m sure we all have our stories to tell about how we’ve managed to socialize with our friends, while still keeping a safe distance.  It was no different for the folks in Cap d’Antibes that summer.  I mean, can you imagine the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald letting something like a quarantine keep them from enjoying happy hour?  No, indeed.  Again, back to Hadley, who recalled how they managed:

“And all of them would come over (at) yardarm time and sit in their cars outside an iron grille fence and we would be up on this little, tiny porch, and we’d all have drinks together, at a respectable distance, of course.  And each empty bottle was put on a spike on the fence, and we really decorated the place in the course of a couple of weeks.”[i]

But while the Murphys were intent on keeping their distance from the Hemingways, one other member of the party had different intentions.  That would be a young Vogue magazine editor named Pauline Pfeiffer.  She met Ernest and Hadley at a small gathering at the Paris apartment of Harold Loeb and Kitty Cannell in March of 1925 to celebrate the fact that both Hemingway’s short story collection In Our Time and Loeb’s novel Doodab were to be published by New York based Boni & Liveright.  As an aside, the following year, Hemingway would publish The Sun Also Rises, and would base two rather unflattering characters on Loeb and Cannell, much to their chagrin.  But that’s another story.

EH 5734P Ernest Hemingway with Lady Duff Twysden, Hadley Hemingway, and three unidentified people at a cafe in Pamplona, Spain, during the Fiesta of San Fermin in July 1925. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Shown above, some of the people on whom Hemingway based his characters in The Sun Also Rises, that’s Harold Loeb in the background with the glasses.  Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

In the weeks that followed that fateful meeting at Loeb’s apartment, Pauline appeared to Hemingway’s friend Bill Smith “to be working hard to capture Ernest’s attention.”[ii]  She accompanied Ernest and Hadley to Schruns, Austria on a ski holiday the following Christmas, and joined the Hemingways and Murphys at the Fiesta of San Fermin in Pamplona in July of 1926.  By that time Ernest and Pauline’s friendship had developed into a full-blown affair.  By May of 1927, Ernest and Hadley would be divorced, and Pauline would be the new Mrs. Ernest Hemingway.  But let’s get back to Cap d’Antibes and that happy hour, shall we?

Gerald Murphy was about as serious a home bartender as they came.  According to son-in-law William Donnelly:

“The Murphy cocktail hour was a unique production.  As the hour approached, Sara would place on the bar small Steuben pitchers containing orange, lemon, and lime juice, always fresh.  There would be mint, orange slices, lemon twists, onions, olives, and so on.  Gerald would take the orders.  This man didn’t mix drinks, he performed an office.  He looked like a chemist or magician, measuring, mixing, holding up to the light, garnishing, and, finally, serving with a flourish.  He was absolutely delighted when someone ordered a complicated drink that called for several ingredients.  His opinion of drinking was that he loved drinking but disliked drunks.  He had mixed a batch of drinks one evening for our friend Max N. Edwards, then an assistant secretary of the interior.  As they watched the sunset from my terrace, Gerald remarked that ‘this drink has gone right to my head, which is just what I intended it to do.’”[iii]

Now, as for that quarantine situation, it seems that Pauline had had whooping cough as a child, so she wasn’t afraid of catching it again.  So, it seemed natural for her to “share the Hemingways’ quarantine until it was time to go to Pamplona”[iv] in early July.  Soon enough, the Fitzgeralds’ lease on the Villa Paquita had ended, so Ernest, Hadley and Pauline rented two rooms at the Hôtel de la Pinède in Juan-les-Pins.

“It was near the beach and had a small garden where the ménage a trois took most of their meals.  Each morning they spent on the beach, swimming and taking the sun.  After lunch in the garden and a long siesta, they took long bicycle rides along the Golfe de Juan, returning at yardarm time with the Murphys, the MacLeishes, and the Fitzgeralds.  Bumby and Madame Rohrbach (his nanny) lived in a small bungalow nearby, walking among the pines and playing on the rocks.  But at the hotel there were three of everything: breakfast trays, bicycles, bathing suits drying on the line – and worst of all two women in love with the same man.  Hadley was at some pains to pretend that nothing was amiss.”[v]

F. Scott Fitzgerald dances with his wife, Zelda, and daughter, Frances “Scottie,” in front of a Christmas tree in Paris.

Scott, Zelda and Scottie in their Paris apartment, circa mid-1920s

So what might the Murphys have been serving at happy hour during those days of quarantine?  One possibility was a Murphy concoction named the Villa America Special, which was more or less a variation on the Sidecar, with some unidentified liqueur used as the sweetener.  Perhaps the ever-witty Murphy might have been clever enough to call it the “Stay the F*** Inside Car,” to encourage the Hemingways to stay within the quarantine boundary fence.  But the drink might have been another Murphy invention known as the “Juice of a Few Flowers,” which in later years became known as the Murphys’ “House Cocktail.”

Murphy was often secretive about what went into his cocktails; if asked, he was likely to reply, “just the juice of a few flowers.[i]”  Among Murphy’s friends was the playwright Philip Barry, author of The Philadelphia Story, the 1939 Broadway sensation that was immortalized on screen in 1940 by Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart.  Barry saw fit to work Murphy’s trademark expression into the plot.  In one scene, after a night of over-imbibing with Stewart, Hepburn awakened with a massive hangover.  Grant fixed her a Stinger (white crème de menthe and brandy) as a hangover remedy.  When she asked what’s in it, Grant suavely replied, “Just the juice of a few flowers.  It’s a type of stinger.  Removes the sting.[ii]

I’m reading in recent days that some hospitals are giving coronavirus patients megadoses of Vitamin C.  With that in mind, I heartily recommend the Juice of a Few Flowers, as it’s packed with not one but four citrus juices.  Without further ado I offer you the recipe for The Juice of a Few Flowers.  Here’s how:

Juice of a Few Flowers

1 oz London dry gin

1 oz orange juice

1 oz grapefruit juice

½ oz lime juice

½ oz lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass that has been rimmed with coarse sugar.

Cheers, and stay safe!  To your health!

[i] Amanda Vaill Stewart, Everybody Was So Young (New York: Broadway Books, 1998), 162


[i] Alfred G. Aronowitz and Peter Hamill, Ernest Hemingway – The Life and Death of a Man (New York: Lancer Books, Inc., 1961), p 164

[ii] Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969), 144.

[iii]  William M. Donnelly, foreword to Sarah and Gerald – Villa America and After, Honoria Murphy Donnelly with Richard Billings (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982), xv

[iv] Id, at 171.

[v]  Carlos Baker, Ernest Hemingway – A Life Story (New York: Charles Scribners’ Sons, 1969), 171













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MOTAC’s 7th Annual Holiday Cocktail Seminar

On December 9 the Museum of the American Cocktails hosted its 7th Annual Holiday Cocktail Seminar, featuring an all-star cast of some of DC’s best and brightest bartenders. Presenters included Derek Brown (The Passenger, Columbia Room, Mockingbird Hill, Eat the Rich, Southern Efficiency), Gina Chersevani (Buffalo & Bergen, Hank’s Oyster Bar Capitol Hill), JP Fetherston (Southern Efficiency, Columbia Room), Frank Jones (The Gibson), Ben Matz (Eat the Rich), and Chantel Tseng (Mockingbird Hill). The group was led by MOTAC Co-Founder Phil Greene.


From Left: Frank Jones, Ben Matz, Derek Brown, JP Fetherston, Chantel Tseng and Phil Greene.

The Warehouse Theater, located just behind the Passenger, served as this year’s venue. A packed house of around 80 people were treated to many delectable warm and cold cocktails highlighting traditional and seasonal ingredients.

To begin things off Gina Chersevani presented her “Who’s Santa’s Mama Now?“:

1.5 oz chocolate/chestnut washed Johnny Walker 12 year
.5 oz Alvear’s 1927 PX Solera Sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
3 oz hot milk
Touch of whipped cream
Garnish with shaved chocolate

For a lighter version replace the milk for water and whipped cream for an orange peel.

In a hot mug pour 1.5 oz washed scotch, .5 oz Pedro Ximenez, 1 tablespoon sugar, then add 3 oz of hot milk, stir until sugar is dissolved. Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Next came Chantel Tseng who presented Wassail:

Score three red apples and place in a pot. Add on half cup brown sugar, two bottles of brown ale, 1 cup Romate Gold Cream Sherry and bake for 30 minutes.

Over the stove top, pour 6 bottles of Sam Smith Nut Brown Ale, add 1 tsp. each of ground cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Grate and add the zest of two lemons. Simmer. Add apple mixture and sugar to taste.

Derek Brown then presented his Yule Glögg:

1 bottle of full-bodied red wine
3/4 cup Aquavit
1/4 cup Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum
1 tsp. crushed cardamom seeds
2 tsp. cloves
½ tsp. grated ginger
2 tsp. grated orange zest
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup whole almonds — blanched
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup brown sugar

Bring wine to boil. Tie spices and zest in to a cheesecloth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add in almonds, sugar and raisins; cook for 5-10 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat. Add in Aquavit and Rum. Stir, and remove spices. Serve hot.

Frank Jones then offered his own version of Eggnog:

4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 container vanilla soy milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 Oz Bulleit Bourbon
6 Oz Dale DeGroff Pimento Bitters

And for those of us who are traditionalists, JP Fetherson made guests a Baltimore Eggnog:

1 750ml bottle Whistle Pig 10 Year Old Rye Whiskey
1 750ml bottle Appleton Estate Reserve Jamaican rum
2 lbs confectioners sugar
3 qts whole milk (Trickling Springs)
1 qt heavy cream
1 tsp table salt
24 eggs

Separate egg yolks and egg whites. Beat 24 egg yolks until they are light and lemon-colored. Add the rye, rum, sugar, milk, cream and salt, all while beating the ingredients while adding them.

Beat the 24 egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add 3/4 tsp. of fresh nutmeg and fold into the liquid mixture. Serves 25.

And last but not least, Ben Matz offered his Iced Irish Coffee:

4 oz. Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
10 oz. strong chicory coffee
2 oz. sweetened condensed milk

Brew strong coffee over 3 crushed cinnamon sticks, add condensed milk and chill. Combine with Tullamore Dew.

And as a surprise treat for guests to cap the night off, Phil Greene made a Hemingway Hot Rum Punch:

9 oz Papa’s Pilar Blonde Rum

6 oz Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum

6 oz Cognac Ferrand 1840

15 oz water

4 1/2 oz lemon juice

3 oz lime juice

3 oz Depaz Cane Syrup (from Martinique), or brown sugar simple syrup

Add all ingredients to a pot, set on stove on low, simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in punch cup, Irish coffee glass, sturdy wine glass, or rocks glass.  Garnish with lemon peel. Option, add a dash of Angostura Bitters or Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters to each serving.


Not only would we like to thank everyone for coming along with our top-notch crew of presenters, but none of this could be made possible without our sponsors, namely Tullamore Dew, Whistle Pig Rye, Bulleit Bourbon, Johnny Walker Black Label, Papa’s Pilar Rum, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Dale Degroff’s Pimento Bitters, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Alvear’s 1927 PX Solera Sherry, and Appleton Estate Reserve Jamaican Rum. Thank you!

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Cheers to the Chief! Favorite Presidential Cocktails

Audience Presidential Cocktails
On August 12 the Museum of the American Cocktail and the Smithsonian Associates hosted “Cheers to the Chief! Favorite Presidential Cocktails.” MOTAC Co-Founder Phil Greene presented five cocktails to over 150 guests.
To start things off Phil made a classic Daiquiri, one of John F. Kennedy’s favorite drinks.  According to his excellent book, And a Bottle of Rum, Wayne Curtis writes that JFK was enjoying a Daiquiri at the Kennedy home in Hyannis Port, Cape Cod, on Election Day, 1960, when he learned he’d soon become the White House’s next resident.  We used the award-winning Papa’s Pilar Blonde Rum in the Daiquiri, from the Hemingway Rum Company.  Only fitting, since Ernest Hemingway and JFK became friends toward the end of Hemingway’s life, and the Hemingway Collection is housed within the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.
Daiquiri (a favorite of President Kennedy)
1.5 oz Papa’s Pilar Blonde Rum
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz Fee Brothers Rock Candy Syrup
Shake all ingredients well with ice, strain into a cocktail glass or coup (wider-styled Champagne glass)
Phil also featured the McKinley’s Delight, a great variation on the Manhattan, named after the 25th President of the United States.  The drink was said to have been created by a St. Louis bartender in honor of the 1896 GOP Convention, held in that city.  After the start of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the drink also came to be known as the Remember the Maine!  We used Bulleit Frontier Rye Whiskey, Cherry Heering Cherry Liqueur (essential to a true Singapore Sling!), Dolin Rouge, and a dash of Pernod Absinthe.  A delicious drink.
McKinley’s Delight (a.k.a. Remember the Maine)
3 oz Bulleit Rye
1 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Cherry Herring
1 dash Pernod Absinthe
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
In honor of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s penchant for mixology, Phil presented a straightforward gin Martini.  FDR served Martinis to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (he complained they were “cold on the stomach”) and to British King George VI at FDR’s home in Hyde Park, to the chagrin of both his and the King’s mother!  The Citadelle Gin and Dolin worked beautifully together in this classic.
2 oz Citadelle Gin
1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
2 dashes Fee Brothers Orange bitters (optional)
1 olive
1 tsp olive brine (optional)
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Strain into a chilled cocktails glass. Garnish with an olive.
Phil also did a Richard Nixon favorite, the Trader Vic’s Navy Grog. Nixon would often duck out of the White House and go up the street to 16th and K, where a Trader Vic’s was housed within the old Statler-Hilton Hotel.  He also loved a good Mai-Tai!  The Plantation Original Dark and 3 Star Rums worked beautifully with Dale DeGroff’s amazing Pimento Bitters.
Trader Vic’s Navy Grog
2 oz Plantation Original Dark Rum
1 oz Plantation 3 Star Rum
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
1/4 oz (or to taste) Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters
Shake all ingredients until icy-cold and serve over a mount (or customarily, and inverted ice cone) of finely shaven ice with a straw stuck in it.
Rounding out the five drinks, Phil did Harry Truman staple, the Old Fashioned.  In his excellent book, How’s Your Drink, Eric Felten tells us that Harry and Bess Truman often drank their bourbon neat, saying that the orange and cherry added to a traditional Old Fashioned was too much like fruit punch.  Harry loved his bourbon, and was sipping on some in Sam Rayburn’s office that fateful day in April, 1945 when FDR died, making Truman the next President.  He rushed to the White House and, ever the gentleman, asked the newly-widowed Eleanor Roosevelt, “Is there anything I can do for you?”  She replied, “I think the proper question is, can we do anything for you?  You’re the one in trouble now!”  Indeed.  The Bulleit Frontier Bourbon was perfect in this American classic.
Old Fashioned
2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
1 tsp Fee Brothers Rock Candy Syrup
Dash water
2 dashes Fee Brothers Aromatic or Whiskey Barrel Bitters
1 orange peel
In a rocks glass muddle the syrup, bitters and orange peel. Add ice add bourbon. Stir well and serve.unnamed
As a special guest, Phil asked Mark Will-Weber to join him for the Q&A session.  Mark is the author of the soon-to-be-published book Mint Juleps With Teddy Roosevelt – The Complete History of Presidential Drinking.  Mark add a considerable amount to the evening, to be sure!
We would like to thank the wonderful volunteers from the Smithsonian Associates along with Luke Johnson and Matt Keller for slinging cocktails for 150 people .
And of course, none of these cocktails could have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors: Fee Brothers Bitters and Rock Candy Syrup, Bulleit Bourbon and Rye, Dolin Dry and Sweet Vermouth, Citadelle Gin, Papa’s Pilar Blonde Rum, Plantation Original Dark Rum, Plantation 3 Star Rum, Pernod Absinthe, and Cherry Heering Cherry Liqueur.
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Negroni: Italian for Ménage a Trois – Evolution of a Three-Part Classic

On February 20 the Museum of the American Cocktail hosted “Negroni: Italian for Ménage a Trois – Evolution of a Three-Part Classic” presented by Luke Johnson, Matt Keller and Dave Lord at the historic Occidental. Typically Luke, Matt and Dave can be found behind the scenes assisting MOTAC Co-Founder Philip Greene at the Museum’s DC-based seminars. This time though the three came forward to feature a cocktail that is witnessing a rebirth of popularity while often caught in a love-hate debate among those cringing at its bitterness and intensity and those drawn by its robust flavors that go against the grain of mainstream cocktail culture.  Not only did the seminar focus on the Negroni, but took the audience on an historical journey reaching back to the Negroni’s roots from the Milano-Torino to the many offspring in the Negroni cocktail family.

Dave Matt and Luke

From left: Dave Lord, Matt Keller and Luke Johnson.

To start things off Matt featured the Americano. Created before the Negroni in the early 1860s by Campari creator Gaspare Campari, the Americano was first called the Milano-Torino, the name alluding to the Campari made in Milan and the sweet vermouth (Cinzano) which came from Turin. The Milano-Torino later became known as the Americano as it became very popular among Americans travelling through Italy during Prohibition. Of the many loopholes in Prohibition, the one allowing for medicinal use of alcohol may have been the reason for this. Considered then by many to have medicinal value, Campari (a bitter) contains ingredients including various fruits, aromatic herbs and spices including quinine, rhubarb, ginseng, and the peel of bitter oranges along with cascarilla bark which gives Campari its distinctive bitterness. Such herbal liqueurs were allowed to be consumed in the US during prohibition (by prescription only, of course – wink-wink) for various “ailments.” Balanced out with sweet vermouth and rounded off with some soda water, the Americano was likely the perfect cocktail for Americans who had acquired a taste for medicinal bitters, some even taking Campari back to the US “under doctor’s orders.”

Luke and Matt prepare an army of Americanos. Photo courtesy of Ana Maria Argudo-Lord.


1 oz. Campari

1 oz. Martini Rosso Vermouth

1-2 oz. Soda Water

Combine Campari and sweet vermouth in an ice-filled glass, top off with soda water and garnish with a slice of orange or a lemon twist.

Luke then presented to the audience the pièce de résistance, the Negroni. He explained that sometime around 1920 a regular customer at the Caffe Casoni, one Count Camillo Negroni came in and ordered a variation on the popular Americano cocktail – only make it ‘po piu robusto’ – a little stronger – by replacing the club soda with gin. One of the greatest of all classic cocktails was born. Bittersweet, yet enchanting, this drink keeps its followers coming back time and time again…


Luke makes sure the audience can answer his t-shirt with a resounding YES! Photo courtesy of Ana Maria Argudo-Lord.


1 oz. Campari

1 oz. Plymouth Gin

1 oz. Martini Rosso Vermouth

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass, stir on ice until well chilled and strained into an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with a slice of orange.

For one of the offsprings of the Negroni, Dave showcased the Negroni Sbagliato or “Wrong Negroni” which was created by Mirko Stochetto, owner of the iconic Bar Basso in Milan. In the middle of the 1970’s (probably around 1972 or 1973), Mirko was experiencing a very busy night when he reached for prosecco rather than gin while preparing a Negroni. Realizing his mistake, he offered to make a new drink for the bar guest. The patron declined however, realizing that the addition of prosecco could make for an excellent thirst quencher on a hot day. Thus, the Negroni Sbagliato was born and quickly became Bar Basso’s signature drink.

Dave and Phil

Dave fields questions from the audience at the historic Occidental, just steps from the White House. Photo courtesy of Ana Maria Argudo-Lord.

Negroni Sbagliato

1 oz. Campari

1 oz. Martini Rosso Vermouth

1 oz. Prosecco

Combine the Campari and vermouth in an ice-filled white wine glass, top off with Prosecco and garnish with an orange segment.

For an American twist on the Negroni, Luke turned the audience’s attention to My Old Pal. This classic is similar to the Negroni with its 1:1:1 ratios, only with rye whiskey in place of gin. Created by Harry MacElhone, owner and proprietor of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, this drink appears in his 1922 book, Harry’s ABC of Cocktails, although it’s possible this drink was created as early as 1878 – predating the Negroni by over 40 years. Regardless of which came first, the Old Pal is a delicious drink in its own right. Most authorities suggest using dry vermouth, but sweet vermouth makes for a better, more flavorful cocktail. Who cares if some people believe that the use of sweet vermouth makes it a Boulevardier which is made with bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari.

My Old Pal

1.5 oz. Whistle Pig Rye

1 oz. Martini Rosso Vermouth

1 oz. Campari

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir on ice until well chilled, strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. No garnish.

To conclude the seminar, Dave introduced guests to the Jasmine. While not technically a cocktail that people would group into the Negroni family, we included this refreshing sour cocktail for its featuring of the backbone of the Negroni: Campari. The Jasmine was created by bartender Paul Harrington at the Townhouse Bar and Grill in Emeryville, California in the early 1990s. A friend of Paul’s, named Matt Jasmine, asked Paul to come up with a new drink for him. Moments before Matt had taken a bar stool, Paul had made a classic Pegu cocktail (gin, Cointreau, lime, Angostura bitters) for another bar guest. For his new creation, Paul opted to switch out the lime juice for lemon juice, and the Angostura bitters for Campari. When Matt asked Paul what the drink was called, he simply replied, “The Jasmine.” Another guest who later tried it said “Congratulations, you just invented grapefruit juice!” With the drink’s appealing color and strikingly similar taste to grapefruit juice, this drink would become a gateway cocktail for people who were previously opposed to gin.

The Jasmine

1.5 oz. Plymouth Gin

1 oz. Cointreau

.75 oz. Campari

.5 oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake ingredients on ice until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

As a funny story, in preparing for the Negroni seminar, Luke, Matt and Dave thought it would be nice to create an original cocktail to present. After many attempts, and patting themselves on their back for their stroke of brilliance, they came up with a drink they knew would be a hit combining gin, Campari, lemon juice, Cointreau and grapefruit bitters. Thankfully, saving the three from embarrassment, Dave realized they had essentially recreated the Jasmine. Though the three may not be able to take full credit for their creation, here is the recipe for the grapefruit-forward “Accidental Jasmine” which we hope becomes part of your cocktail repertoire:

The Accidental Jasmine

2 oz. Plymouth Gin

1 oz. Campari

.5 oz. fresh lemon juice

.5 oz. Cointreau

1 dash Fee Brothers Grapefruit bitters

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and vigorously shake on ice until well chilled. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of grapefruit.

Sponsors Special thanks to our sponsors, Cointreau, Campari, Fee Brothers (Grapefruit Bitters) and Plymouth Gin, and our friends at Martini and Whistle Pig for donating Martini Rosso Vermouth and Whistle Pig 10 Year Old Rye. A special thanks also to the Occidental Grill and Seafood for providing not only a wonderful venue, but seamless service and great food to accompany the drinks. Whistle Pig and Martini

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MOTAC’s 6th Annual Holiday Cocktail Seminar in DC

On December 11th the Museum of the American Cocktail held its 6th Holiday Cocktail Seminar showcasing some of the DC area’s most esteemed bartenders. The audience was treated to a wintry mix of hot and cold cocktails tailored to the season. MOTAC’s Phil Greene hosted the event featuring Alex Bookless of The Passenger, Gina Chersevani of Hank’s Oyster Bar and Buffalo & Bergen, Rachel Sergi of Lincoln, Jo-Jo Valenzuela of City Tap House , Jamie MacBain of Bourbon Steak and Jackson 20 and Jon Arroyo of The Farm and Farmers Fishers and Bakers.

Group Photo

To start things off Jon Arroyo gave a demonstration of his “Tom and Jerry at the Farm”

12 Eggs

2 Cups Powdered Sugar

1 Tbsp Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters

1 Tbsp Angostura Bitters

1 Tbsp Cream of Tartar

Ground Nutmeg

For each drink:

1oz Apple Cider

1.5oz Cognac Ferrand

Separate egg whites and yolks. In a large mixing bowl add egg yolks and sugar and beat them until creamy. In a separate bowl add the egg whites and cream of tartar and beat until it forms stiff peaks. Mix and fold egg whites into the yolks until you have a consistent batter. In a preheated mug add approximately 2 tablespoons of batter, add cognac, top with hot water and stir. Dust with nutmeg and serve.

Jon Arroyo

Jon Arroyo.


Jo-Jo Valenzuela treated participants to his cocktail “It’s the Most Wonderful Thyme of the Year” which incorporated bourbon, cinnamon-thyme syrup, apple cider and lemon juice garnished with pomegranate seeds and a thyme sprig.

Gina Chersevani presented a classic mulled wine or Glühwein to warm everyone up:

1 bottle dry red wine

1 Cup blanched almonds

1/2 Cup Raisins

1/2 Cup Craisins

1 Cinnamon Stick

10 Whole Cardamom Pods

5 Whole Cloves

1 Piece Ginger Root

1/2 lb. of Sugar Cubes

16oz of Aquavit

In a pot, pour the bottle of wine, then tie into a cheese cloth the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger root and drop into the pot. Slowly heat to simmering then add the dried fruit and nuts and heat for 10 minutes more. Over the pot place a metal grate to suspended the sugar cubes above the wine mixture, pour the aquavit over the sugar, ignite, allowing the aquavit to burn off. Then drop sugar into the wine mixture and stir until melted in. Ladle mulled wine and fruit into cups and serve.


Gina Chersevani ignites sugar cubes with Aquavit for her hot Glühwein.

Alex Bookless then demonstrated her sweet, nutty and velvety Averna Flip:

1oz Cardamaro

1oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

1/2oz Averna

1/4oz Simple Syrup

1 Egg


In a shaker add the raw egg, Cardamaro, vermouth, Averna and simple syrup and give it a hard, dry shake (shaking without ice) to fully emulsify the egg. Then add ice and shake vigorously until cold and frothy. Strain into a glass and garnish with a dusting of nutmeg.

Averna Flip

Alex Bookless’ Averna Flip.

Rachel Sergi served her creation “The North Star:”


Rachel Sergi

1oz Beefeater 24

1oz Cointreau

1/2oz Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters

1oz Pink Grapefruit Juice

3 Dashes Cranberry Bitters

3/4oz Barrel Aged Cider

Add ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake until ice cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy.

Hot Buttered Rum with Dolce de Leche

Jamie MacBain concluded the seminar with a Hot Buttered Rum with dark rum, homemade butterscotch, a spice bouquet, and topped with dulce de leche foam.

We would like to thank our sponsors for making the evening possible: Cognac Ferrand, Remy-Cointreau, Fee Brothers, and Pernod-Ricard.



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Literary Libations

Horace“No poems can please nor live long which are written by water-drinkers.”

Horace (65-8 B.C.)

On August 13, The Museum of the American Cocktail partnered with the Smithsonian Associates to present “Literary Libations,” presented by MOTAC co-founder Philip Greene. 160 participants were treated to tastings of cocktails featured by great authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Hunter Thompson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many more. Here are the literary links to the cocktails featured that night.

Casino Royale

To start the audience off right, Greene presented the Vesper featured in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, which introduced to the world Britain’s most famous, fictional agent. While having dinner with CIA agent Felix Leiter, James Bond makes the following order:

“A dry martini,” [Bond] said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.“

“Oui, monsieur.”

“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.  Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?“

“Certainly, monsieur.” The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

“Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,” said Leiter.

“Bond laughed.  ‘When I’m…er…concentrating,“ he explained, “I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.’”


2 ¼ oz. Citadelle Gin

¾ oz. Skyy Vodka

1/3 oz. Lillet Blanc

Shake well with ice, strain into a chilled champagne goblet, garnish with lemon peel.

From a View to a Kill

Greene went on to explain that the first cocktail Bond orders in “Casino Royale” is the Americano. But in Fleming’s 007 book From a View to a Kill, Fleming goes deeper into Bond’s affinity for the drink:

“James Bond had his first drink of the evening at Fouquet’s. It was not a solid drink. One cannot drink seriously in French cafés. Out of doors on a pavement in the sun is no place for vodka or whisky or gin. A fine a l’eau is fairly serious, but it intoxicates without tasting very good. A quart de champagne or a champagne à l’orange is all right before luncheon, but in the evening one quart leads to another quart and a bottle of indifferent champagne is a bad foundation for the night. Pernod is possible, but it should be drunk in company, and anyway Bond had never liked the stuff because its liquorice taste reminded him of his childhood. No, in cafés you have to drink the least offensive of the musical comedy drinks that go with them, and Bond always had the same thing–an Americano–Bitter Campari, Cinzano, a large slice of lemon peel and soda. For the soda he always specified Perrier, for in his opinion expensive soda water was the cheapest way to improve a poor drink.”

The Americano Cocktail

1 oz. Campari

1 oz. Martini Sweet Vermouth

1-2 oz. Seltzer Water

Pour Campari and Vermouth into a highball glass filled with ice. Stir. Top with seltzer and garnish with an orange wedge or lemon twist.

Of course, you can’t talk about the Americano without also mentioning the Negroni. Enter General Pascal Olivier de Negroni, Count of Negroni (1829-1913). As the story goes…Around the same time that the Americano received its name, an Italian nobleman by the name of Count Camillo Negroni began frequenting the Bar Casoni in Florence.  There, he asked the bartender, Fosco Scarselli, to liven up his Americano cocktail with a splash of gin in place of the seltzer water.  And thus was born the Negroni.

Count of NegroniAnd of course, James Bond was a fan. In Fleming’s “For Your Eyes Only” the Negroni is featured along with the creamy Brandy Alexander.  In this scene, Bond was to meet another agent, one whom he’d never met before.  Instead of relying on the standard identifiers, such as a flower in the lapel or a certain hat, this agent used a drink:

“James Bond felt the inspection. The same surreptitious examination had been going on since he had met the man two hours before at the rendezvous in the Excelsior bar. Bond had been told to look for a man with a heavy moustache who would be sitting by himself drinking an Alexander. Bond had been amused by this secret recognition signal. The creamy, feminine drink was so much cleverer than the folded newspaper, the flower in the buttonhole, the yellow gloves that were the hoary, slipshod call-signs between agents. It had also the great merit of being able to operate alone, without its owner. And Kristatos had started off with a little test. When Bond had come into the bar and looked round there had been perhaps twenty people in the room. None of them had a moustache. But on a corner table at the far side of the tall, discreet room, flanked by a saucer of olives and another of cashew nuts, stood the tall-stemmed glass of cream and vodka. Bond went straight over to the table, pulled out a chair and sat down.”

The waiter came. “Good evening, sir. Signor Kristatos is at the telephone.’”
Bond nodded. “A Negroni. With Gordon’s, please.”
The waiter walked back to the bar. “Negroni. Uno. Gordon’s.”  . . .
There had been no handshake. These were old acquaintances. In the same line of business, probably. Something like import and export. The younger one looked American. No. Not with those clothes. English.  . . .
The Negroni came. The two men sat back comfortably, each one satisfied that he had to do with a man in the same league.”

The Negroni Cocktail

1 oz. Hendrick’s Gin

1 oz. Campari

1 oz. Martini sweet vermouth

Pour gin, Campari and vermouth into a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir well, serve with an orange twist. Or strained into a cocktail glass.

The Long GoodbyeGreene’s lively presentation also featured Raymond Chandler, author of the great Philip Marlowe detective novels The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell My Lovely (1940), and The Long Goodbye (1953), as well as the screenplays for the classic films “Strangers on a Train” (1951), and “Double Indemnity” (1944). Chandler was a fan of a good drink, being quoted as saying “Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.”

In The Long Goodbye, the Gimlet makes several cameo appearances, notably:

“We sat in a corner of the bar at Victor’s and drank gimlets.  “They don’t know how to make them here,” he said.  “What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice with a dash of sugar and bitters.  A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else.  It beats martinis hollow.”

Ernest Hemingway also wrote of the Gimlet in “Green Hills of Africa:”

“What about a gimlet?” Pop asked. “Don’t you think a gimlet might help?”
“Tell me first what are the things, the actual, concrete things that harm a writer?”
I was tired of the conversation which was becoming an interview. So I would make it an interview and finish it. The necessity to put a thousand intangibles into a sentence, now, before lunch, was too bloody.
“Politics, women, drink, money, ambition. And the lack of politics, women, drink, money and ambition,” I said profoundly.”

The Gimlet

2 oz. Hendricks gin

1 oz. Rose’s Lime Juice

Shake on ice until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.

This Side of ParadiseMoving on, Greene featured the Bronx Cocktail, which was featured in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise.

“Have a drink?”

Wilson, ponderously diplomatic, reached over and slapped him on the back.

“You’ve had plenty, old boy.”

Amory eyed him dumbly until Wilson grew embarrassed under the scrutiny.

“Plenty, hell!” said Amory finally. “I haven’t had a drink to-day.”

Wilson looked incredulous.

“Have a drink or not?” cried Amory rudely.

Together they sought the bar.

“Rye high.”

“I’ll just take a Bronx.”

Eric Felton said “When W.E.B. Dubois wanted to draw a caricature of a “gentleman” in his 1940 book “Dusk of Dawn,” he described the man as having “good manners, Oxford accent and Brooks Brothers to-order clothes. He plays keen golf, smokes a rare weed and knows a Bronx cocktail from a Manhattan.“

The Bronx Cocktail

1 ½ oz. Citadelle Gin

½ oz Martini Sweet Vermouth

½ oz. Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth

½ oz. Orange Juice

Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Greene then discussed the Whiskey Sour.  In a 1951 article in the St. Petersburg Times concerning Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, bar owner Harry MacElhone noted that he “missed the good old days when Hemingway and Fitzgerald were customers, and that ‘Hemingway could down 20 whiskey sours at once sitting and then go back to his hotel to work.’”

Harrys BarGreene then went to tell the story of an ill-fated road trip taken by Hemingway and Fitzgerald, from Lyon to Paris, during which a whole hell of a lot of literary drinking took place.  It seems that Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda had cut the top off of their car, so when it rained, Hem and Scott got drenched.  They checked into a hotel to “dry out,” only literally, of course, and when Scott became convinced he was gravely ill from exposure, Hemingway treated him with a course of Whiskey Sours.

The Whiskey Sour

1 1/2-2 oz. Wild Turkey Bourbon

½ oz. Fee Brothers Rock Candy Syrup

Splash water

½ oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake well with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Love in the RuinsIn Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins, the frothy Ramos Gin Fizz makes an appearance:

Trays pass.  I begin to drink Ramos gin fizzes with one swallow.  At one time I was allergic to egg white bit that was long ago.  These drinks feel silky and benign.  Waiters too are dressed as Santa.  They grin sideways from their skewed Santa hoods and shout ‘Christmas gif!”

“I see Lola clearly, holding her gin fizz.

I am glad to see you,” says Lola, who is five feet nine and in her  high heels looks me straight in the eye and says what she thinks.

“So am I,” I say, feeling a wonder that there should be such as thing as a six-foot woman who is glad to see me.  Women are mythical creatures.  They have no more connection with the ordinary run of things than do centaurs.  I see her clearly, gin fizz in one hand, the other held against her sacrum, palm out, pushing herself rhythmically off the wall.  Women!  Music!  Love!  Life!  Joy!  Gin fizzes!

The Ramos Gin Fizz

1 ½ oz. Citadelle Gin

½ oz. fresh lemon juice

½ oz. fresh lime juice

1 tsp sugar or ½ oz. Fee Brothers Rock Candy Syrup

1 oz. half and half or cream

3 drops Fee Brothers Orange Flower Water

1 egg white (pasteurized optional)

Place ingredients in a shaker with cracked ice. Shake vigorously for 2-3 minutes. Strain into a chilled Delmonico or short Collins glass. Top off with 1-2 oz. seltzer water.


Special thanks go to our sponsors, Gruppo Campari/Skyy, for providing Campari, Wild Turkey Bourbon, and Skyy Vodka, to William Grant & Sons, for providing Hendrick’s Gin and Lillet Blanc, to Cognac Ferrand, for the delicious Citadelle Gin, to Fee Brothers, for their Rock Candy Syrup and Orange Flower Water, and to our friends at Nike Communications, for donating Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth and Martini Sweet Vermouth.

Along with the wonderful volunteers of the Smithsonian Associates we would also like to thank our volunteers Luke Johnson, Dave Lord and Matt Keller for their help in preparing the cocktails.

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Hemingway Cocktails Around Town in DC

Union Market Sponsors

In February Philip Greene, Co-Founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, showcased his new book To Have and Have Another – A Hemingway Cocktail Companion around town in Washington, DC. On February 21 Phil presented his book at Union Market where guests were treated to four cocktails featured in the book along with food from local vendors and cocktail demonstrations by Gina Chersevani of Hank’s Oyster Bar (Capitol Hill) and Buffalo & Bergen. On February 28, to raise funds for the DC Public Library Foundation, Phil also showcased his book at the Shaw Public Library.

Union Market Seminar

Philip Greene presents to a sell out audience at Union Market.

Phil’s seminars detailed how his book covers various cocktails that make appearances in Hemingway’s books, “Papa’s” personal favorites, his philosophies and views on a good drink along with some general cocktail history and anecdotes.

At Union Market, Phil showcased the Jack Rose, Americano, the Bailey and the Daiquiri.

Phil at Shaw Library

Philip Greene presents at the Shaw Public Library.

For the DC Public Library Foundation, Phil showcased the Champagne Cocktail and the Hemingway Gin and Tonic, two simple cocktails that distinguish themselves with the addition of Angostura bitters.  Phil noted that bitters such as Angostura are a great way to “season” cocktails, similar to how chefs use herbs and spices to season food. The Hemingway Gin and Tonic simply takes the standard G&T and adds a couple dashes of Angostura.

Gina Americano

Gina Chersevani presents the Americano at Union Market.


1 oz. Campari

1 oz. Martini Italian (sweet) vermouth

1-2 oz. seltzer (to taste)

Add all ingredients to a rocks or highball glass filled with ice. Stir. Garnish with an orange wedge or a lemon twist.

Suggested Reading: “The Good Lion”

Greene Book Signing

Phil signs copies of  To Have and Have Another – A  Hemingway Cocktail Companion at Union Market.


1.5 oz. Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin or Plymouth Gin

½ oz. grapefruit juice

½ oz. fresh lime juice

1 tsp. simple syrup (optional)

1 sprig mint

Invented by Hemingway’s friend Gerald Murphy, a fellow American expatriate living in France in the 1920s.  Here are Murphy’s instructions on how to make the drink (from a letter to Alexander Woolcott):

The mint should be put in the shaker first. It should be torn up by the hand as it steeps better. The fin should be added then and allowed to stand a minute or two. Then add the grapefruit juice and then the lime juice. Stir vigorously with ice and do not allow to dilute too much, but serve very cold, with a sprig of mint in each glass.

Champagne Cocktail

Champagne Cocktails are readied at Shaw Library.

Champagne Cocktail

4-5 oz. chilled Champagne

1 sugar cube

Angostura bitters

Place a sugar cube at the bottom of a champagne flute. Saturate the cube with Angostura bitters. Slowly fill flute with Champagne.

Suggested Reading: A Farwell to Arms (Chapter 35), The Fifth Column (Act 3, scenes 1 and 4)

Daiquiri Ingredients

Daiquiri (the so-called “E. Henmiway Special,” from the 1937 Floridita cocktail menu)

2 oz Flor de Cana white rum

1 teaspoon grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon Luxardo maraschino liqueur

½ oz fresh lime juice

“Frappe” (chip or crush) some ice, add to shaker, then add remaining ingredients.  Shake well, then pour contents of shaker into a chilled cocktail glass.

Hemingway Gin & Tonic

2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin

4 oz. tonic water

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Fill a tall glass with ice, add ingredients, stir, and garnish with a lime wedge or peel.

Suggested Reading: Islands in the Stream (“Bimini,” Chapter 3), “The Denunciation,” “The Butterfly and the Tank”

Jack Rose

2 oz. Laird’s Applejack

½ oz. fresh lime or lemon juice

¼ oz. grenadine (preferably genuine pomegranate)

Shake well with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lime or lemon peel.

The Museum wishes to thank our venue hosts, Union Market and Edens Group (especially Courtney Retzky, Richie Brandenburg and Jodie McLean), and the D.C. Library Foundation (Linnea Hegarty and Martha Saccocio).  We would also  like to thank Gina Chersevani, the wonderful staff at Buffalo & Bergen, and our volunteers Luke Johnson, Dave Lord and Matt Keller for their help.

Shaw Library Sponsors

And a very special thanks to our sponsors Campari, Flor de Cana Rum, Hendricks Gin, Laird’s Applejack,  Plymouth Gin, and Beefeater 24 Gin.

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