Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Drinks around the world

Sometimes on a nice evening, we sit on our little deck overlooking the slough, quaffing a glass of wine or even a "Sea Breeze," and one of us will utter the phrase, "wie Gott im Frankreich," translated from the German "Like God in France." In other words, it can't get much better than this.

The other evening we were reminiscing about the most interesting drinks ever, which started many years ago at the George V in Paris. This was obviously at a time when the dollar went far. It was August and hot, and we were still in American mode for some reason and ordered gin and tonics.

How the George V served a gin and tonic: a glass full of gin and ice was served with a little bottle of Schweppes tonic on the side. Now think about this. A whole glass of gin, (yowsa!) and one had to keep drinking the gin and adding tonic until, by the time one was pretty well sloshed, one was finally drinking a gin and tonic. Somehow, through the oceans of gin, we remember this occasion.

This happened so long long ago that Frank Sinatra was alive and in Paris and was being a bad boy, according to the George V gossip. He and his chums were tossing lighted fire crackers around, apparently inside the hotel. They were not amused, and we were embarrassed (in a tipsy, gin-soaked way) by our fellow countryman.

The next historic drink was a Bellini at Harry's Bar in Venice. I believe it was a then godawful six dollars, maybe eight. We were having lunch, and I have to tell you that while the Bellini was refreshing and very fine, the appetizer, which was pasta with a cheese sauce was to die for. The best pasta and sauce ever. Ever. The stuff of memories.

Some ladies of a certain age, maybe schoolmarms from the midwest came in and wilted as they perused the menu. Harry's was never, like, a cheap place to grab a bite. They asked for club sandwiches, which bamboozled the waiter, but sure enough, a little later, club sandwiches were served. I'll bet those were $15.00 club sandwiches.

The last historic drink was in the Writer's Bar at Raffles in Singapore. And of course at Raffles in Singapore, whatever would you order but a Singapore Sling? This set us back (15 years ago) $12.00 each, the most expensive drink I had ever ordered. It was pretty good, although I am not a gin person (in spite of the George V), but sitting at the Writer's Bar (I had just started writing) was such a dizzying experience. The history. The glamour. The je ne sais quoi. The writer's bar at Raffles.

A book came out of the trip to Singapore, but only memories of the George V and Harry's Bar. Good places all. Did you notice I did not use the verb "imbibe" even once?


What historic drinks did you have?

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