What a Week. Who Needs a Drink?
It’s a gloomy morning here in northeast Florida, storms moving in and out, coming off the river outside my window. Weather aside, it’s been a gloomy week all around. It started out with singing at a funeral and each day following has brought news of more loss. I feel the need for sunshine (in both senses of the word) and a cocktail to look forward to later, so I’ve decided to squeeze the largesse of oranges that have accumulated on my counter and sometime after 5:00 I’ll make an Orange Blossom and raise my glass to the gone and to the grieving.
Here’s a recipe I found from 1913:
One portion gin
One portion orange juice
Dip a spoon into honey, and dissolve in the gin only what honey adheres to the spoon.
Then add the orange juice, fill with ice, shake well, and strain into a cocktail glass.
I’m not typically a fan of sweet drinks, but there’s something about the simplicity of ingredients, the directive with the spoon, the use of honey that appeals to me. And of course, since it’s a prohibition era drink, there are stories surrounding it in the silent film era. And while I’m sure there are many instances of Orange Blossoms being enjoyed under circumstances that didn’t end in death or mayhem, these are some of the better known stories:
*It’s documented that Virgina Rappe drank numerous Orange Blossoms the night she died at Fatty Arbuckle’s infamous party at the Hotel St. Francis in San Francisco.
*My beloved Louise Brooks was drinking Orange Blossoms with Charlie Chaplin in the midst of their two month affair in New York (he was between films, she was transitioning from being a Ziegfeld girl to a Hollywood actress) when, as the story goes, he began chasing her around with his “glowing red penis.” Chaplin believed dousing his Little Tramp (sorry) in iodine would help him avoid venereal disease. Other versions of this story have him chasing after a room full of chorus girls…
*The Orange Blossom was supposedly D.W. Griffith’s cocktail of choice. So much so, in his later days holed up at the Knickerbocker Hotel in LA, it was said he kept a supply of oranges in his room to have at the ready to make his favorite drink.
*Hours before his still unsolved murder, famed silent director, William Desmond Taylor (aka William Cunningham Deane-Tanner), enjoyed Orange Blossoms with Mabel Normand at his apartment. Below is the police photo of the cocktail tray taken at the scene.
Hmm. Not such a cheery drink after all. Still, I’m hopeful that sweet honey and the tart juice of a few freshly squeezed oranges will be enough to offset, at least a little, a bitter and lamentable week.