A few months ago, I took a mighty leap forward in my quest to see every film directed by Alfred Hitchcock when all nine of his surviving silent films, fully restored by the British Film Institute, screened in Seattle. What struck me about these early efforts, aside from his precocious talent, was the characters’ regular indulgence in cocktails. The movies were made in the late 1920s when Prohibition held sway over the Colonies, so perhaps rubbing it in is another example of Hitch’s mordant wit.
|Rosemarie's favorite title card from CHAMPAGNE|
It was only a matter of time before I whipped one up myself and toasted Hitch with it.
The name came first, bestowed upon a genteel piece of piano music by Polish composer Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska in 1856. The ditty turns up in Kurt Weill’s satirical opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, but its most lasting impact would come courtesy of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Wills heard the melody on a fiddle and knew it lent itself to western swing. His new arrangement and lyrics made the song a country staple. Here’s a rendition recorded by the Baron of Bakersfield, Buck Owens.
|Another title card from CHAMPAGNE|
|Guess which one has egg white|
Which did I prefer? I can say that in addition to the silken texture always brought by egg white, its presence smoothes out what is quite a tart cocktail. Which will you prefer? You’ll have to fix a novena of Maiden’s Prayers and decide for yourself. Suspense perhaps not worthy of Hitchcock, but the best I can do.
The Maiden’s Prayer
1 ½ oz. gin
½ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. orange juice
dash of Angostura bitters
egg white (optional)
Shake. Strain. Garnish with an orange twist. If using an egg white, combine all the ingredients and shake first without ice, then with.
Want more Cocktail of the Week? The first fifty-two essays are available in the Kindle bestseller DOWN THE HATCH: ONE MAN’S ONE YEAR ODYSSEY THROUGH CLASSIC COCKTAIL RECIPES AND LORE. Buy it now at Amazon.com.