Shop and Live Mediterranean

Monday, March 9, 2009

Had a Long Day? Let Me Fix You a Cocktail, Darling

(Author declines to denote the specific genders of the above mentioned - lol)

Caviar is classified as an aperatif, which itself is a culinary item that prepares the palette for a substantial meal. An aperatif can be either a beverage or a comestible, and is often enjoyed during a little period we like to call 'cocktail hour'.

Cocktail hour. What better way to stylishly relax and empty the mind of the day's stresses once home from a hard day of work? Or attempt to name a more ideal manner in which to prepare the palette for the evening meal - and in the best of company? Whatever became of this once sometime formal, typically private social excursion that brought friends and acquaintances together for a period beginning in late afternoon until just prior to the dinner hour.
In the US in the 'cocktail hour' gathering heyday of the 1920s, guests would mill about, rarely if ever taking a seat, drink in one hand, cigarette firmly in holder in the other, catching up or reacquainting themselves with the ladies and gentlemen of their circle, in the elegant setting of a private home, hotel, restaurant, gallery or other venue. The range of offerings included distilled spirits, wine and 'virgin' beverages (available for decent ladies, who could-not-should-not-would-not partake in the consumption of spirited infusions). Served at the occasion also would be light comestibles; cucumber sandwiches and other fare carried over from afternoon tea [time], shrimp, smoked salmon, or a variety of other dainty finger foods to compliment the cocktails and stave off hunger until supper. Within this period, caviar was a plentiful, elegant and oh so well suited, item present within the cocktail setting.
One of the earliest recorded definitions of the 'cocktail' comes from the May 13, 1806 edition of the Balanceand Columbian Repository, of Hudsun New York, where the paper provided an answer to the question, "What is a cocktail?". It read:

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a Democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else."

Dressing for Cocktails

In terms of womens' cocktail wear, Coco Chanel, Jean Patou, and Elsa Schiaparelli, all made famous by separates designs, helped popularize the dressy cocktail suit as transitional clothing from the afternoon tea to the intimate evening fĂȘte. Costume jewelry, whether as a daytime pin or an evening parure, became the definitive cocktail accessory. During World War II, the hemline of the cocktail dress rose from the 1930s ankle, or "cocktail-length," sheath, but the convenience and accessibility of the fashionable cocktail accessory was sustained. Parisian milliners like Simone Naudet (Claude Saint-Cyr) produced elegant chapeaus with black silk net veils for the cocktail hour. In New York, Norman Norell attached rhinestone buttons to "vodka" gray or "billiard" green day suits to designate them cocktail ensembles.3 By the mid-1940s, cocktailing was made easy by the adaptability of cocktail clothing and the availability of the indispensable cocktail accessory. Classic French designer, Christian Dior was the first to name the early evening frock a "cocktail" dress in the late 1940s, and in doing so allowed magazines, department stores, and rival Parisian and American designers to promote fashion with cocktail-specific terminolo

For men, in the 1930s, acceptable cocktail attire was less formal than evening wear and usually consisted of a suit or trousers, jacket and tie or bow tie. In the 1950s men often sported rayon trousers, with custom-made jackets. Cotton or silk shirts were accessorised with slender ties and ascots. However,by the 1960s, ties were discarded along with interest in retaining the elegant ritual, unwittingly replaced by an interest in recreational drugs and the 'Revolution'.

Cocktail hour remained a popular and continually refined weekly, if not daily social event, perpetuated in large part, by the Hollywood film industry and popular literature, which clearly established images of wealth and class associated with the participants of it. As mentioned cocktail hour as a social event decreased significantly between the 1960s and the 1990s. However, recently cocktail hour appears to be enjoying a resurgence along with the growing fascination with fine, natural and essential food. How lovely it would be to turn back the pages of time and experience those glorious days when one could really have a 'tete-a-tete', if only for a day.
All the best,

No comments:

Post a Comment