From my teenage years, through most of my adult life, if you would have asked me who my favorite writer was, I would have answered you without even batting an eyelash that it was, F. Scott Fitzgerald, no contest.
Sure, I had flirted with a little Hemingway through the years and I really loved JD Salinger before I realized that he was kind of a pedophile, but I always came back to old Francis.
I'm not quite sure what it really was about Fitzgerald's work that made me love him so much. Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of “The Great Gatsby”, however, I do recognize what a bad ass he was to have written it at the tender age of 21. At my own age of 21, I had realized that Fitzgerald had written it when he was my age and promptly found myself simultaneously loving him and hating him all at the same time.
If I had to really try to pinpoint the admiration, I think it came initially from a short story called, "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" about a girl who gives into peer pressure and it's everything great about a good short story. Subtle plot points, humor and an underlying lesson. And that kind of writing is timeless. A story written in the twenties that can make me laugh, will always warrant my attention.
I think I also had a fascination for Fitzgerald because of his crazy wife, his muse, Zelda. She was intriguing and crazy and I think in her own way, the original Manic Pixie Girl. The two of them combined--they were insane. Not a little nuts, but Gary Busey insane. Some women want a Prince Charming, and some women want a tumultuous romance while living in the south of France. Not every woman wants to live happily ever after in the castle forever, some of us only want to rent it for the summer.
Nonetheless, I would be a liar if I didn't say that I have and will always be envious of the life that Fitzgerald and his band of ex-pats lived in the 1920's in Paris, and it's been a subject I have poured over. When I was given the opportunity to pitch some ideas for this book, I jumped at it and delved into research. Through my reading, I discovered two things: 1. There would really be nothing more amazing than living in the south of France during this era. and 2. F. Scott Fitzgerald was a huge asshole. And so was his wife.
Now I am not saying he was just sort of a prick, no he practically wrote the book. F. Scott Fitzgerald was a genuine, grade a turd. A douche bag, a shitty shitty person. A true asshole. He was the kind of guy that got drunk pretty much every living moment of every day. Sure, lots of parties were happening back then, but sometimes, maybe you just wanted to chill on the beach and have a picnic, well, nope, don't expect anyone to not be civil if you invite old Francis and Zelda.
They were the friends who always get plastered, and then fight. They were like that Jim Morrison and Pam scene in the Doors movie with the duck or chicken or whatever.
Another time, old Scottie got wasted a party being thrown by a friend of theirs, the Murphy's and Scott proceeded to collect everyone's watches, some including Rolex, and other fine pieces of jewelry and then put them all in a pot of soup. For funsies.
And that's not even half the fun. Sometimes they'd be out, just hanging with Picasso and his model or actress wife or girlfriend and Zelda would get jealous of the attention that old Scottie would give and so Zelda would throw herself down a flight of stairs to get his attention. Breaking arms, knocking loose a collarbone---all in the name of love.
Assholes. Drunks. But mostly asshole drunks.
When I was done with this book, I was kind of done with F. Scott Fitzgerald for a longtime. And I needed a drink. This drink, The Bailey is from the book, and it's my favorite cocktail from that era.
The book a favorite of Gerald Murphy, a friend of the Fitzgerald's. The Murphy's might I add, are much more intersting than the Fizgerald's, by a longshot.
The Murphy’s were The Fitzgerald’s best friends, Sara and Gerald, were and by all accounts, a lovely couple. The two had become expatriates and moved to the French Riviera in the early 20’s. Most notably, the couple were known for their elaborate parties, generous hospitality and seemingly endless love for each other. It is said that the pair was the inspiration behind Fitzgerald’s ”Tender Is the Night”.
In any event, this is a cocktail that you might have found in the hand of Gerald Murphy, Fitzgerald’s best friend and at times, muse.
1 3/4 cups of gin
sprigs of fresh mint
8 Tbsp freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
8 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Put the gin and some torn mint sprigs into an ice filled shaker.
Shake and distribute evenly among glasses.
Add grapefruit and lime juice and stir. Garnish cocktails with a mint sprig.