A little history: The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1919, prohibited the production, transport and sale of intoxicating liquors.
In response to prohibition (and other reasons), key U.S. artistic figures departed the US. They enjoyed a convivial welcome in Paris, a scene that included the likes of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Josephine Baker.
They had no intention of staying sober.
Paris became the cultural, artistic and literary epicenter of the world during the Roaring 20’s. In parallel, the City of Light also became known for its bars, cocktails and hedonism.
The story was told to us Saturday by Philip Greene, author of A Drinkable Feast, as the closing chapter of the fifth annual Morristown Festival of Books.
Greene shared photographs old and new, and read snippets from the great writers’ references to bars and cocktails of their day, in the packed Great Hall of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Interestingly, a small but significant number of (1) bars/night-clubs/hotels and (2) cocktail recipes from Roaring 20s Paris still survive.
Two iconic cocktails were served along with the history:
The French 75 Cocktail – pure alcohol – 1.5 ounces of London Dry gin, 1 teaspoon Pernod anise (instead of absinthe) 1/3 ounce fresh lemon juice, 3-4 ounces of champagne or sparkling wine
The Jack Rose Cocktail – 1.5 ounces of applejack or Calvodos, 3/4 ounce of gin, 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon/lime juice, 1/3 ounce of dry vermouth, 1/3 ounce of weet vermouth, “grenadine to colour,” i.e about 1/3 ounce, and lemon or lime peal for garnish.
Both to be shaken with ice and strained.