Above: The Dude from The Big Liebowski
History is littered with legends of liquor who owned the drink in their hand as much as their sense of style, matching a snappy vestiary with a sexy drinking vessel. Here are five of the best for mixing quality clobber with cocktails.
First of all, he’s not real, it’s important to stress this because, sometimes, we think we can be him. Product placement has ensured that Fleming’s film figment has doubled as both manikin for haute couture and style prophet for next season’s high street choices. Everything from Connery’s iconic Anthony Sinclair conduit cut in Goldfinger, and those racy Thunderball Jantzen swim shorts, to Daniel Craig’s bicep hugging Sunspel polo shirts and basic Billy Reid peacoat, have been enjoyed on screen and consequently purchased by punters in homage. Be it Omega ski suits or tan safari shirt jackets by Frank Foster, whatever the weather, Bond knows his garms. And he also knows his drinks. The list of drinks ordered in the book reads like a menu at a hotel bar: Haig & Haig, Black & White, Johnnie Walker, Virginia Gentleman bourbon, Harper bourbon, Canadian Club, Walkers Deluxe, Taittinger, Dom Perignon, Mouton Rothschild, Claret, Chianti, and even ouzo. Specific serves, glassware, measures and moments, Bond was an intrepid imbiber and took his drinking more seriously than his women. Of course, it’d be senseless to ignore the Martini here, Vesper, vodka, shaken or stirred. This year Bond will be sipping Belvedere in a return to his literary choice of vodka – Fleming had him request Russian or Polish vodka for his Martinis in the early books – and we’re confident this is a more welcome product placement than Heineken.
Jackie knew about style and before we get to the garms, let it be known she did an interior design job on the White House. She had an eye you see, indeed she had two and she famously covered them both in massive sunglasses. In the wardrobe department it was all about the ‘simple lines’ and ‘bold solids’ – which might be a drug reference, but actually refers to cut and colours. Favoured designers included Balenciaga, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Ungaro, Dior and Chanel, but she never let loyalty stand in the way of branching out to an Oleg Cassini fawn wool coat or pillbox hat by Halston. She was an icon of style for a generation and her look more than endures in contemporary fashion forays. More importantly though, Jackie drank shed loads of Grasshoppers. True story. In a more recent expose it was revealed the former first lady started summer evenings during jaunts to Paris drinking the crème de menthe/de cacao favourite at the White Elephant or the Ritz. Making this green concoction a sophisticated bar call seems as likely as a magic bullet theory, but if anyone was up to the task it was Jackie O.
Again, he might not be real, but a man who earns iconic status wearing a pyjama pants and cowichan cardigan combo is worthy of stylistic note. The Big Lebowski’s Dude also wore a bath robe that had seen better days. And jelly sandals. Rumour has it some of these items belonged to the actor Jeff Bridges, so he also gets a respectful nod for nifty get ups. Meanwhile the Dude was almost single-handedly responsible for getting Kulhua back into the wider publics’ drinks cabinets. While bartenders were already au fait with this coffee-flavoured liqueur, The Dude’s penchant for a White Russian and demand for Kahlua at various moments in the film gave an unlikely boost to the cocktail. “Careful, man, there’s a beverage here!”
These days everyone loves a revisionist tale, but let us gloss over Winston’s down and up political career and instead focus on his fashion. We can all picture the hats, be they top or homburg, and the bow ties that finished his Savile Row suits from Henry Poole & Co. But who remembers the siren-suits? These were essentially military styled onesies and Turnbull & Asser created them for Churchill in red, green and blue velvet. He wore these glorified pyjamas out of doors, with zip up dress shoes made by Peal & Co. Now there’s a man who sets a style agenda. Then there’s his drinks list. Churchill’s drinking day is now the stuff of legend, starting as it did with a glass of whiskey, continuing with Champagne doused meals and taking in an Armenian Brandy or a cocktail at the Savoy. Joe Gilmore created a number in his honour in fact, the Churchill being a Scotch and vermouth drink with lime and Cointreau. We’re still working on making this one taste acceptable. So since he insisted on gin in his Martini (unless he was drinking with Stalin and convincing him to help do over the Nazis) we’ll acknowledge it as his stylish drink of choice. Very easy to replicate, Churchill was specific in his order, it had to be Plymouth, light on the vermouth, if he had any at all.
Hunter S Thompson
Like everything about Thompson, the writer’s style code was ballsy, as he once said: “When it comes to clothes, it’s easier to talk about the dark side of the American dream in clown’s garb than a clergyman’s.” His Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas Hawaiian shirts and Abercrombie & Fitch patchwork jacket warrant special mention, identified through Ralph Steadman’s artwork and committed to celluloid when Johnny Depp wore the originals in the film adaptation. He revealed the coat was useful because “It’ll carry ice for drinks. And it doesn’t leak blood.” He had an affection for Chuck Taylor converse, worn with short shorts or tuxedo; his exceptional collection of sunglasses were never dark – because he wanted people to see his eyes; and he once sported a shirt covered in fishing lures. And Thompson knew how to drink – he even put rum in the title of one of his novels. Perhaps more commonly associated with whisky – Chivas and Wild Turkey often brand-checked – he might also be noted for his mix of Fernet Branca and hits off an oxygen tank as a hangover cure, or that sip of adrenal gland extract. His self-aggrandizing literature is also brimming with cocktail references, from over-garnished Singapore Slings at the Beverley Hills Hotel to his ritualistic breakfasts of four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, “and something like a slice of Key lime pie, two Margaritas, and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert.” Our focus is on his Mint Juleps, which he enjoyed but also weaved into one of his early features, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, for Scanlan’s Monthly: “Thousands of raving, stumbling drunks, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money. By mid afternoon they’ll be guzzling mint juleps with both hands and vomiting on each other between races.”
Pictures: Image Collect
From issue 15 of The Cocktail Lovers magazine
By Tom Sandham of The Thinking Drinkers. Check them out in their award-winning show about great drinkers across the UK and at Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. For tickets visit thinkingdrinkers.com