For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

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Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Champagne at the holidays—nostalgia, history, mythology

Nothing like war to make a fellow crave a good drink. Gervais Raoul Lufbery (1885–1918) was a French-American flying ace in WWI. He served in both French aviation and, later, the US Army Air Service, but all but one of his more than 17 combat victories came while flying for the French. He was famous for his pet lion cub named, appropriately for the topic of this post, Whiskey. Lufbery is often credited with having created a most delightful drink called the French 75, purportedly named after WWI’s powerful French 75mm howitzer artillery piece because the drink blew you away like you'd been shelled by one. 

Lufbery - 94th Aero Squadron
Other sources claim the drink was created earlier in 1915 by Harry MacElhone, owner of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. The original version contained a potent combo of champagne, gin, lemon juice and sugar. It was popularized in America at New York City’s famous Stork Club. For another note of nostalgia, in the classic movie Casablanca, Yvette is drinking French 75s at the bar.

Now I can’t drink gin—can’t even stand the smell of it—but a variation arose at some point in its evolving history that replaced the gin in a French 75 with cognac, and that’s the drink I remember drinking back in the days when holding a cocktail in one’s hand seemed the height of sophistication. Now it just seems like a good beginning to a celebration or a well-deserved ending to a tough day. I love a glass of very dry champagne at any time, but there is something very party-ish about making it a French 75 or a Kir Royale (adding crème de cassis)—sort of like adding red stilettos to that traditional little black dress!

Cheri Loughlin, who writes the Intoxicologist blog, wrote a nice piece about French 75s, including her personal favorite recipe for the drink, at http://intoxicologist.wordpress.com/2008/05/04/tweaking-the-french-75/. That could be a place to start if you want to try this holiday drink at home or instruct a young bartender on how you’d like one made.

What are your favorite holiday drinks—alcoholic or not—that you traditionally serve or imbibe this time of year? The holidays can be stressful and/or joyful—I say, whatever the character of yours, PARTY ON!
-- Rosemary Carstens

1 comment:

Gail Storey said...

I love eggnog, spiked or not, but oh, the calories! What the heck, it's the holiday season.