Thursday, May 9, 2013

Drink a mint julep for poor Gatsby

I can’t wait for The Great Gatsby movie coming out tomorrow. I, like everyone else in America, read the book in high school and also love most everything Baz Luhrman and Leonardo DiCaprio do. I re-read some passages from the book today in a hunt for the scene where they go to the hotel to drink mint juleps. The way F. Scott Fitzgerald describes how they were driving around trying to figure out something to do in the heat always stuck out in my memory. If you don’t remember I’ll set it up quickly, Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, Jordan, and Nick were all having lunch (which pretty much means just drinking and smoking cigarettes) and they’re bored. They decide to go in to “town” (NYC), taking two cars and packing a bottle of whiskey. Once they get downtown they’re not sure what to do and are talking about seeing a movie:
"It's so hot," she complained. "You go. We'll ride around and meet you after." With an effort her wit rose faintly, "We'll meet you on some corner. I'll be the man smoking two cigarettes."
"We can't argue about it here," Tom said impatiently, as a truck gave out a cursing whistle behind us. "You follow me to the south side of Central Park, in front of the Plaza."
Several times he turned his head and looked back for their car, and if the traffic delayed them he slowed up until they came into sight. I think he was afraid they would dart down a side street and out of his life forever.
But they didn't. And we all took the less explicable step of engaging the parlor of a suite in the Plaza Hotel.
The prolonged and tumultuous argument that ended by herding us into that room eludes me, though I have a sharp physical memory that, in the course of it, my underwear kept climbing like a damp snake around my legs and intermittent beads of sweat raced cool across my back. The notion originated with Daisy's suggestion that we hire five bath-rooms and take cold baths, and then assumed more tangible form as "a place to have a mint julep." Each of us said over and over that it was a "crazy idea"-we all talked at once to a baffled clerk and thought, or pretended to think, that we were being very funny . . .
They head to the room, open all the windows, and have someone “bring up the ice” (oh the joys of being rich, I always have to go get my own ice at hotels). Shortly after Tom is trying to embarrass Gatsby about not actually going to Oxford:
Daisy rose, smiling faintly, and went to the table.
"Open the whiskey, Tom," she ordered, "and I'll make you a mint julep. Then you won't seem so stupid to yourself. . . . look at the mint!"
Well, if you’ve read the book you know that sadly no one actually gets to drinking any of the mint juleps as everyone starts arguing and telling their secrets and heads back. I know this afternoon will be a big scene in the movie and I’m excited to see it come to life.
If you want to have a drink for poor Gatsby below is the classic recipe from Wikipedia, cheers!

Primary alcohol by volume
over crushed or shaved ice
Standard garnish
mint leaves
Standard drinkware
tall glass, or julep cup
Commonly used ingredients
  • 3 US fluid ounces (89 ml) Bourbon whiskey
  • 4 to 6 sprigs mint leaves
  • granulated sugar, to taste
Put mint, sugar, and a small amount of bourbon into the bottom of a mixing glass. Gently muddle the mint and sugar, then let stand for a bit to allow the muddled leaves to release their flavor. Strain and pour into a julep cup (or similar vessel), rotating to coat the sides. Fill with ice, then add the rest of the bourbon whiskey. Garnish with a lightly slapped small mint sprig.

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