Monday, October 29, 2012

Q&A: Eric Beetner

Eric Beetner’s latest novel The Devil Doesn’t Want Me was released last week. I preyed on our mutual affection for film noir and got him to do a VKDCQ&A.

Q. What can you tell us about THE DEVIL DOESN’T WANT ME?

Well, I’ll let others tell you if it’s any good or not, but I can say it is about a hit man named Lars who is starting to realize he’s past his prime. He’s been on the hunt for the same man for the past 17 years, a guy in witness protection, and he is starting to doubt if he wants to kill the guy anyway. When Lars is replaced by the crime family he works for by a young gun, things come to a head and Lars has to go on the run with an innocent girl. That covers the first 40 pages or so. From there it’s part action thriller, part father-daughter road movie, part generational drama, and part blood bath.

The one thing I’ve heard a lot, and it is very gratifying to me, is that amid all the mayhem and bursts of violence there is a strong heart at the center of the story and the characters are sympathetic and people you end up caring about. That was important to me and I’m glad to know I pulled it off. I never want to write only chaos. The best chaos is grounded in real emotions.

Q. Lars, your hit man character, is on the verge of finally catching up with one target he’s been after for almost two decades. Any parallels with your own life? Something you’ve been chasing for a good long while now?

Hmm, deep question. I’ve never thought about it and I’m tempted to say no, but I’m realizing that when I started writing the book it was 17 years since I’d moved to L.A., so maybe my subconscious was pushing things forward a bit. I’m someone who is rarely satisfied with my accomplishments. I’m not a sad sack about it and I love to appreciate the things I’ve done and I’m grateful for everything. And I have done quite a lot, more than most people only because I’ll try anything or at least pursue anything I’m interested in. I went to film school so I work in the TV/film biz. I’ve made films, done the festival circuit, won awards. I was a musician for a long time and did that whole thing. I’ve painted and sold paintings. Been a paid screenwriter. A ton of other things I’m proud to say I’ve made happen by myself, but of course none of them have made me rich and famous. I’m definitely a jack of all trades, master of none kind of guy. But part of life for me is chasing down dreams and just plain old doing what makes me happy and creatively fulfilled.

So I’ve been chasing a lot of things, and will continue to do so.

Q. DEVIL is part of the relaunch of the storied Dutton Guilt Edged Mystery line. How does it feel to be part of that history? Did you have any of the original books in your own vast library?
Oh, man, it is so damn cool to be with Guilt Edged. For my book launch I bought myself a present of an original Guilt Edged title from 1955 called The Big Steal (not the basis for the Robert Mitchum movie, however) I wish I could collect up all the Guilt Edged titles but they are either long gone or prohibitively expensive.

One thing I’ve said before about my own ambitions in publishing is that I just want to be a part of the conversation. To be mentioned alongside other writers and taken seriously. To be a part of the history of pulp/crime fiction that is Guilt Edged is beyond cool for me. I think I’m more jazzed about it than anyone who even works over there since the original lineup of Guilt Edged books is so much what I love about crime fiction.

My dream job, that I’m sure you can relate to, is to work as an archivist for a film studio and get to browse the archives and collections of Hollywood history. Maybe Dutton will let me start a side job as curator of Guilt Edged history and I can set about finding copies of all the old titles so they can have them on display in the offices. Hmmm, I’m going to get a cover letter started ...

Q. You’ve also written several installments in the FIGHT CARD series, and your books with JB Kohl have a sweet science backdrop. Where did your interest in boxing come from? How closely do you follow the sport now?

My interest is from my family. My fraternal grandfather was a professional fighter in the 1930s and was even state champion of Iowa in 1935. So I grew up learning all about that, sneaking looks at Grandpa’s cauliflower ear and occasionally sitting in the living room with him and my dad to watch a fight. Writing about boxing has been fun. I’m setting it aside for a while so I don’t get pigeonholed as the boxing guy, but the four books I’ve written with a link to boxing have been tons of fun. The whole Fight Card series is one I encourage people to look into. My two books (Split Decision and A Mouth Full Of Blood) are a good place to start, and from there you’ll be hooked and want to read them all.

I don’t watch much boxing these days. If I do, it’s not the heavyweights. The best fights are always the smaller, scrappier guys. More punches, they have more energy and last into later rounds, and they seem to want it more.

Q. You’re a huge film noir fan. What about those movies continues to speak to you?

I like stories with morally challenged characters and so many noirs have those type of guys (and gals) at their center. Many of the straight up detective films I like, but my favorites are usually the stories with average Joes falling into a web of their own making. Think something like Side Street or Guilty Bystander or Too Late For Tears. Then there are films that are just tough as nails like The Narrow Margin and T-Men and Raw Deal that keep you guessing.

I’m a romantic about the era, too. One of the primary functions of film is to transport you and I love being taken to a different time and place through older films. You’ve heard me rail before against people laughing at film noirs because I like to try to put myself in that headspace of the era. Those writers and directors were not making comedies. Some of those films are bleak. But in something like Armored Car Robbery when Charles McGraw is so gruff that his only response to his dead partner’s wife is, “Tough break, Marsha.” it always gets a laugh.

Okay, before I get off on a tangent ... But the classic style is also one I love as a student of cinema. I’m not precious about it. Film should evolve, should change in style for each generation. You don’t have to like it, but I guarantee in fifty years there will be film festivals showing the Matrix trilogy and people will sit and say, “Gee, they sure don’t make ‘em like they used to!”

I’m nearing the end of my quest to see everything considered noir from that era (working from Spencer Selby’s nearly comprehensive list, though how films like Smart Girls Don’t Talk aren’t in there is beyond me) and even now when I’ve been so saturated with film noir I can run across something like Kiss The Blood Off My Hands which I saw fairly recently and be blown away by a great story about a desperate man digging his own grave deeper and deeper even as he risks everything for a human connection.

I’m down to mostly the dregs of crime cinema of the era and there are some bad, bad movies there, so when I see something like that one I am reenergized again and reminded why I love these films.

Q. A regular feature on your blog is “Writers With Day Jobs.” Your own paying gig is as an editor, often on reality shows. Ever see something in the raw footage that inspired a story?

The whole reason I started that topic on the blog, beyond giving writers I admire a little exposure, was that I was curious if anyone else felt like me. I happen to love my day job and am very creatively fulfilled by it. I got the impression I was in the minority and I’ve found I was right.

But I don’t think I’ve ever used anything I’ve ever cut as a jumping off point for a story. Certainly it is all about the content I cut. Not really inspiring to a crime writer. I did use a little inspiration, and a lot of locations, for the film I wrote and directed, but that’s not a crime story. It would be easy to work my day job into a novel and I might get some publicity out of it too, but I’d rather leave work in the edit bay and let my imagination take me to new places when I write.

Movie Q. What’s an underrated hit man film?

Okay, let’s start with the great ones people know about. My mind immediately went to several foreign films, interestingly enough. Leon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita, John Woo’s The Killer. There are tons of underrated or at least unknown films from other countries. How about the Hong King film Naked Killer?

Then there is Road To Perdition, which I do think is kinda underrated. I really liked Collateral but I think it got unjustly tarred with the Tom Cruise backlash. I love Grosse Point Blank, that might be a contender.

Since it’s you and me, Vince, let’s get back to film noir, though. I guess Woman on the Run would count, right? I adore that film. Recently given some love from the Film Noir Foundation * plug, plug* - every one should be a member.

How about one few people know outside of noirhead circles: The Lineup. A great portrait of a contract killer and made extra special by Eli Wallach’s performance and the weird codependent relationship he has with Robert Keith.

Baseball Q. I seem to recall your saying once that your favorite time of year was when your co-workers stopped talking about baseball. What’s your problem?

Oh, boy. You remember that do you? Look, I’m glad you like baseball. My brother-in-law is a huge baseball fan. Do I think any less of him? Not really. Then again he is a Cubs fan so I mostly have pity.

I don’t hope to change your mind so I won’t go into why I think baseball is so pointless and dull, I’ll chalk it up to the fact that I wasn’t exposed to baseball at a young age. I have no nostalgia for the game. That said, I do love a good baseball film.

Eight Men Out? Love it. The Natural? Love it. Field of Dreams? Made me weepy. But the live game is like any of those movies being directed instead by Ken Burns. Yeah, that slow.

So, what’s wrong with me? Let’s just say I’m un-American and have no soul and leave it at that.

Cocktail Q. You’re in a well-stocked bar. What do you order?

Sheesh, you’re gonna end up hating me. Um, I don’t drink so my experience with cocktails is less than limited. But despite that, you’ll be shocked to know I have an answer for this. My wife is more of a red wine kinda gal but she had a cocktail not too long ago that she really enjoyed called a Bourbon Cherry Sour. Have you had that one? If I was in a bar I’d order that for her.

My favorite cocktail by reputation only since I’ve never had one, is the Gibson. I love that you can change a whole drink like a Martini by only changing the weird little accent that comes with it from an olive to an onion. And I love the idea that someone put an onion in a drink. And yet, a Martini is still a Martini when you make it with vodka or gin. Why isn’t that a whole different drink? And what’s with the dirty Martini? Salt water? Who the hell thinks of these things?

Probably someone with a lot of time on their hands. Like someone in the middle of watching a baseball game.

Just kidding - GO GIANTS!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Seelbach

Still have champagne left over from last week? Get rid of it. It’s flat by now. But here’s a second champagne cocktail. The holidays are closing in, and it’s always helpful to have some alternate uses for that extra bubbly.

The Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky is now part of the Hilton chain. In its glory days F. Scott Fitzgerald frequented it – and was bodily escorted from its premises at least once – while in basic training at Camp Zachary Taylor. He retained enough residual affection for the place to immortalize it as the site of Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding in The Great Gatsby. Some say Fitzgerald met the inspiration for Gatsby himself at the hotel bar, but that may be too much wish-fulfillment.

The Seelbach’s other principal claim to fame is its own cocktail, created in 1917. The apocryphal story relayed by Brad Thomas Parsons in his James Beard Award-winning book Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All (believe me, we’ll get to bitters momentarily) says that the drink was devised when a bartender used a Manhattan to catch the spillover from a newly-popped bottle of champagne. The exact formula was lost during Prohibition, then rediscovered by hotel manager Adam Seger in 1995. He restored the signature libation to the house bar’s menu, and later consented to let cocktail cognoscente Gary Regan include it in New Classic Cocktails (1997). (Update, November 1, 2016: Unless of course, the whole story turns out to be a sham. Give me some credit for at least referring to it as apocryphal.)

What leaps out from this recipe are the great lashings of bitters required. A whopping seven dashes of aromatic Angostura, and an equivalent amount of the sweeter Peychaud’s. As I’ve stated before, I am a fan of bitters, but fourteen dashes initially gave even me pause; something about the excessive number smacks of experimentation, or possibly a Derby Day dare. Still, there’s no denying that the drink works in its original configuration. I was intrigued to see a more tempered variation in Jim Meehan’s The PDT Cocktail Book: three dashes of Peychaud’s, two of Angostura. Meehan’s take is more sedate, giving additional purchase to the bourbon, and I liked it just fine. I’m tempted to reverse his modification and use more Angostura, its pungency my preferred match with dark liquor. Maybe a project for my traditional Day of the Dead bottle of champagne.

The Seelbach

1 oz. bourbon
½ oz. Cointreau
7 dashes of Angostura bitters
7 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
several ozs. champagne

Combine the first four ingredients. Stir. Pour into a champagne flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with an orange twist.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Movies: Double Your Pleasure

First, permit me to recommend Rumba, the rum-centric watering hole Seattle has long deserved. Rosemarie and I closed our Saturday night there to toast the terrific double-bill we’d programmed ourselves.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel is the latest in the recent strong crop of fashion documentaries. Vreeland’s granddaughter-in-law Lisa Immordino Vreeland has assembled this hugely affectionate portrait largely from vintage interviews with the Harper’s Bazaar/Vogue editor and mastermind behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, linking them with recreated conversations between Vreeland and George Plimpton, collaborator on her autobiography D.V. The Empress Vreeland remains an active, very much alive presence in these clips, brimming over with enthusiasm for, well, damn near everything. There are so many bon mots and worthwhile bits of advice about life and work that the entire film is an inspiration. Vreeland waxing rhapsodic about surfers and skateboarders convinced me that she would be in the same company as Rosemarie: chic, intelligent, professional women with an inexplicable love for the Jackass movies.

The Connection (1961) is better known for its legal history than its box office. Shirley Clarke’s adaptation of Jack Gelber’s Obie Award-winning play had two New York matinee screenings in October 1962 before the police arrested the projectionist and seized the print on the grounds that the movie was obscene. The filmmakers sued and ultimately won, but the damage to the film’s American reception was done.

The premise is years ahead of its time: a documentary crew sets out to record a day in the life of some heroin addict jazz musicians, which naturally means springing for the junk. Still, I went in with some apprehension, expecting a lot of hipster posing and patois. Instead, I was knocked on my ass. The lingo is there all right, much of it spouted by the deeply square director of the film-within-the-film who finds himself on camera a lot more than he wishes protesting that he wants to make “a real, human document.” Clarke wastes no time diving into the thorny issues of performance versus reality – including whether that “versus” is even necessary – and she’s abetted by her company of not-yet-known actors like William Redfield, Carl Lee and Roscoe Lee Browne. Also hugely impressive is the music, provided by the Freddie Redd Quartet with Jackie McLean, all of whom appear on camera as the junkies. In one amazing sequence when the titular connection arrives, the band’s members go off one by one to cop in the bathroom while the other musicians keep playing, each instrument dropping out for a few moments only to return with, shall we say, renewed intensity. A new 35mm print of The Connection is showing for a few more days at the Northwest Film Forum in conjunction with the Earshot Jazz Festival. Here’s the trailer.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Help Murray Stenson

If you drink cocktails in Seattle, you know Murray Stenson. Murray has tended this city’s bars for thirty-plus years, spending over a decade behind the stick at Il Bistro, another ten years at the landmark Zig Zag Café, and lately working at Canon. He’s almost single-handedly responsible for bringing the classic cocktail movement to this part of the world, and countless Pacific Northwest bartenders have learned from and been inspired by him. Even if you’ve never set foot here, you may have felt Murray’s influence. He rediscovered the Last Word, which now appears on menus around the globe and was dubbed “the Official Drink of the Classic Cocktail Renaissance” by the Washington Post’s Jason Wilson.

Murray is not just a crafter of perfect cocktails. More importantly, he is a master of hospitality. Wherever he’s working, you can count on finding a convivial atmosphere in addition to splendid drinks. His peers paid him the highest compliment at the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail, where he was named “Best Bartender in America.” Look him up and you’ll find the same two words used to describe him: beloved and legendary.

Much of what little I know about cocktails I’ve learned from Murray. I’m also proud to say that over those years he’s become a friend. Murray’s a serious film buff and a crime fiction fan; I still remember my amazement when he asked me one day, “Ever hear of a writer named Jim Crumley?,” then revealed that the author of The Last Good Kiss would regularly drive in from Montana and do his drinking at Il Bistro.

And now, Murray needs our help.

He was recently diagnosed with a heart ailment that may require surgery. Worse, he is currently unable to work, meaning he can’t do what he was put here to do, make outstanding drinks and strangers feel welcome. Like many an accomplished tradesman, he doesn’t have health insurance.

One of Murray’s longtime friends has set up MurrayAid, where you can make donations to help defray his medical expenses. The Zig Zag Café will be hosting a benefit for Murray on Sunday, November 4 from 5pm to close, where you can literally drink to Murray’s health. Other events will be announced in the coming weeks. I’ll be at as many as possible.

Over at the Cocktail Chronicles, Paul Clarke writes a lovely tribute to Murray. If Murray has ever poured you a cocktail, give a few dollars. If you’ve ever found a home away from home at a cocktail bar, chip in as well. Help out a good man in need.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The French 75

I’ve told this story before. I’m telling it again. It’s not like you’re paying for this.

Scene: Prescription Cocktail Club, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, July 2011

Dramatis Personae: Vince, a dashing American abroad
                                 Rosemarie, his lovely wife
                                 Sullivan, a far more dashing French bartender

Vince: Didn’t you want to have a glass of champagne or a champagne cocktail? This would be the place.

Rosemarie: I want to order a French 75. But do they call it that here? Maybe it’s just a 75.

Me: Huh. I never thought of that.

Sullivan: What else can I get you?

Rosemarie: Could you recommend a champagne cocktail?

Sullivan: Of course. A French 75?

Rosemarie: That would be perfect.

The French 75’s name is derived from the Canon de 75 modèle 1897 (or M1897) 75-mm light field artillery gun. A lethal piece of weaponry that could, with the right personnel, briefly fire up to 30 rounds per minute, it was used by the French army and the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Called the “Soixante Quinze” (“75”) en Français, the gun loaned its name to the cocktail because that’s how hard the drink hits you.

This much we know is true. The rest is what that French call une zone grise.

Histoire. We know that Harry’s New York Bar, Paris put the French 75 on the map, and that the Stork Club in New York made its name Stateside. But where did the drink come from before Harry’s? In Classic Cocktails, legendary London bartender Salvatore Calabrese says that Harry MacElhone took the “75 Cocktail” made with gin and lemon served at Henry’s Bar, Paris and augmented it with champagne. Other experts note that the 1919 edition of Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails credits an English bartender with the recipe. Insert Gallic shrug here.

Ingrédients. The champagne’s not the question. It’s the other spirit. The early recipes all say gin. But along comes David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks first insisting on cognac, then uncorking this whopper: “Gin is sometimes used in place of cognac in this drink, but then, of course, it no longer should be called French.” The estimable Gary ‘Gaz’ Regan ventures that no one had heard of a brandy version until Embury suggested one, leading to great confusion in the land. Patrick Gavin Duffy’s Official Mixer’s Manual achieves détente by offering a range of options. A French 75 is made with gin, a French 95 with bourbon (and orange juice, according to Dale DeGroff), a French 125 with brandy. I say stick with the original: gin, lemon juice, sugar, champers.

Verrerie. You’d think glassware would be the easy part, but no, that’s got to be a bone of contention, too. Many recipes call for the French 75 to be served in a Collins glass with ice. Some, God help us, even call for straws. Maybe it’s how I was raised, but I refuse to drink champagne with a straw. I’ve also seen the drink poured into a standard cocktail coupe. My rule is simple: if there’s bubbly involved, it goes in a flute. More beverages should be drunk from flutes. Perhaps this choice might result in less champagne, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You want the gin’s presence to be felt, after all.

The French 75 

1 oz. gin
 ½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
several ozs. champagne

Combine the first three ingredients. Shake. Pour into a champagne flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Fourth Regiment

Earlier this week, New York Times spirits writer Rosie Schaap offered a moving, very personal appreciation of the Manhattan. My mantra is life is a simple one – DON’T READ THE COMMENTS – but when cocktails are involved, I make an exception. I was amazed by the number of people who volunteered that when preparing Manhattans, they don’t bother with bitters. Like Ms. Schaap, I pride myself on flexibility when it comes to the king of whiskey drinks. Rye or bourbon, up or on the rocks, traditional or perfect (half sweet vermouth, half dry). I enjoy them all. But always, always with bitters.

Aside on the comments: Reading them did allow to me see that a Hong Kong resident sang the praises of my favorite bar, saying that the Zig Zag Café was worth a trip to Seattle and “is just what a bar should be: a dark hole in the wall with a great bartender.” Aside on the aside: the Zig Zag Café has a brand new website!

I’m convinced that some of the aversion to bitters stems from their name. Of the five basic tastes (the others being sour, sweet, salty and savory), bitterness is by far the most sensitive. Blame self-preservation; many naturally occurring toxic substances have a bitter taste. It’s worth remembering that coffee and chocolate do, too.

Sampled on their own, yes, bitters can taste bitter. But when employed judiciously they provide a unifying element around which a cocktail can coalesce. They’re particularly useful in tempering sweetness, their concentrated burst of flavor adding another level to a drink’s overall profile.

One of my favorite ways of demonstrating what bitters bring to a cocktail party is the Fourth Regiment. Robert Hess of DrinkBoy notes that the recipe appears in the little known 1889 book 282 Mixed Drinks from the Private Records of a Bartender of the Olden Days. But like many a cocktail it owes what reputation it has to Charles H. Baker, Jr. and his Gentleman’s Companion. Baker observes, in his own inimitable fashion, that the Fourth Regiment was “Brought to Our Amazed Attention by One Commander Livesey, in Command of One of His Majesty’s Dapper Little Sloops of War, out in Bombay, A.D. 1931.” He calls it “merely a Manhattan Cocktail in 4 oz. size” with Angostura, celery, and orange bitters, “but why the last was included we never have understood as the Angostura dominates.”

The modern version isn’t close to four ounces in size, and the Angostura doesn’t bully its compatriots at all. In fact, a different flavor takes its turn on the floor with each sip. By the time you’ve drained your glass, you’ll have a very clear sense of how essential bitters are to the cocktail experience. Soon enough, you’ll have a full shelf of them like I have.

The Fourth Regiment 

1 oz. rye
1 oz. sweet vermouth
dash of Angostura bitters
dash of celery bitters
dash of orange bitters

Stir. Strain. No garnish.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Miscellaneous: Assorted Recommendations

Buy this album. This one right here, Made Possible by The Bad Plus. Listen to it regularly. It’s one brilliant song after another. Then see them live at your earliest opportunity. You can thank me later.

Here’s a plot: hard-working family man Wade Benson falls asleep at the wheel one night and accidentally kills a young woman. He’s sentenced to several years’ probation, but must serve two days of each of those years in jail. A friend of the victim’s family feels Wade hasn’t suffered enough for his crime and picks one of those days to kidnap Wade’s college-age daughter.

Odds are you’re picturing a white-knuckle ride about a decent individual desperate to atone for a horrible mistake, pitted against a hardened criminal. Perfect airplane reading. That’s not Lake Country. Sean Doolittle, a cagey writer who sidles up on his narratives, has something more interesting in mind. After a brief introduction putative villain Darryl Potter, back from Iraq and battling a host of post-war demons, disappears until the halfway point. We never even meet Wade Benson, an authorial decision that practically renders the book experimental. Instead Doolittle adopts an outside-in approach, letting characters on the periphery work their way to the center of the drama. A TV reporter having second thoughts about her career. A bounty hunter who has mastered his own form of destructive Zen. And Darryl’s only friend Mike, a fellow veteran who “came home from the Marine Corps with a plastic knee, 63 percent hearing loss in his left ear, and a bunch of grisly sludge where his nighttime dreams used to be.” The result is a portrait of a Minnesota community and a subtle, moving thriller about the unexpected repercussions of tragedy.

Leo Waterman is back after a too-lengthy hiatus in G. M. Ford’s Thicker Than Water. The irascible shamus has finally cashed in the trust fund his deeply crooked politico old man left him. He’s still got the boys – the motley assortment of indigent misfits who work as his “operatives” – to spend his newfound gain on, but he’s lost Rebecca, the woman he loves, to another man. When Rebecca vanishes without a trace, Leo slips out of semi-retirement and back onto the mean streets of the Pacific Northwest. Thicker Than Water is a solid old-school detective novel shot through with Leo’s trademark grumpy humor and rich Seattle atmosphere. I may be biased because Rosemarie’s workplace and several watering holes I frequent are name-checked, but nobody captures the spirit of my adopted hometown like Ford.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Cocktail of the Week: The Bijou

Bijou is French for jewel, and the if-it-ain’t-true-it-oughta-be story is that this elegant drink’s name stems from the fact that each of its ingredients bears the color of a precious stone: diamond (gin), ruby (sweet vermouth), emerald (green chartreuse). One variation of the cocktail is served as a pousse-café or a layered drink, with all three elements presented parfait-style. This is a complete waste of time. Stir them up and render the Bijou a magnificent amber hue greater than the sum of its parts.

The recipe was spotlighted in the Modern Bartender’s Manual (1900) by Harry Johnson. Cocktail historian David Wondrich offers a brief biographical sketch of Harry in his book Imbibe! and makes it plain that Johnson was a bullshit artist of the first rank as well as an enthusiastic if misguided self-aggrandizer. You might score points boasting about working the stick at a bar on the Bowery in New York now, but not in the 1880s as Harry had it on his résumé.

I’ve seen the cocktail compared to the martini, which makes sense in theory as they’re both gin-based. But the Bijou is far sweeter and richer, the latter owing to green chartreuse’s herbal pyrotechnics. And the flavor only grows more dense as it settles. A dash of orange bitters, another tie to the martini, anchors the mixture nicely. Use a trace of Campari instead and you have a Tailspin. I like both versions but prefer the subtle citrus note of the original; there’s enough going on here without Campari’s bitterness stirring up trouble. Save that raucousness for the Bowery.

The Bijou

1 oz. gin
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. green chartreuse
dash of orange bitters

Stir. Strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.