Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Special - The Cocktail Party

The cocktail party was pretty much invented in 1928 - in London, Paris and Washington - but Sydney and Melbourne were soon in the swing; Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher novels are set in 1928; ergo the Christmas Special that rounds off Series 2 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries will have a cocktail party theme. Here's an article from September 1928:

Cocktail Parties

The Vogue in London

"The cocktail party seems to be firmly established with the smart set in London. Where women's committee meetings once assembled and imbibed weak tea afterwards, they are now mediums of the cocktail party, even when held in the morning.

"Certain "art-shows" and mannequin parades are not complete without it. At a recent show of paintings by a Russian with futuristic tendencies, arranged by the famous Sitwell family, green and gold cocktails were handed round.

"For a day the topic in London newspapers was the production of a blue cocktail. Every other color is  possible, and the result of the discussion was the discovery that the only two colouring agents possible were the juice of the gentian (a blue flower which grows on the high Alps) and a French sirop known during the last century but not made now. 

"Some of the newest designs for houses include a cocktail bar in one corner of the lounge. It is usually done in artistically panelled wood, luxuriously fitted with crystal bottles, glasses and shakers. Already a few hostesses have created their own recipes, the details of which are jealously guarded. Salt almonds, potato chips and caviare sandwiches are often served with them.

"A famous dress designer invites one to a dress parade and a cocktail party in the same reach - or an elaborately engraved invitation is sent, entitling you to spend an hour or so in a parchment and gold drawing-room, sipping from gold filigreed glasses, while mannequins parade in lovely clothes.

"At one of these combined functions given recently by Madame Luander and her sister, Lady Glenmorris, mannequins displayed a novelty - the cocktail party frock - designed specially so that it is suitable for both late afternoon and dinner wear. Made in colored lace, the ensemble was particularly charming. In most cases the frock was sleeveless, and had an accompanying short coat of the same material, which could be slipped off to reveal the evening outfit."

To get in the mood, here's a recipe for a Minnehaha Cocktail from Melbourne's Argus in September 1928:

The juice of one-quarter of an orange
1 fluid ounce Dry Gin
1 fluid ounce French Vermouth
1 fluid ounce Italian Vermouth
1 dash of Absinthe

Half fill the cocktail shaker with broken ice; add all ingredients except the Absinthe. Shake well and strain into cocktail glasses – then add the Absinthe.

Note: The original recipe calls for 1/6 of a gill of each spirit. An imperial gill is 5 fluid ounces.

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