In A Collar and Tie (GQ Book 4), Henry and Martin go to the Venetian Bar and have a few drinks. They first try the Martinez and then the Gin Daisy.
All the mixed drinks they imbibe in the books are gin-based, and that is because I prefer gin drinks, and I knew I’d want to try whatever I had them drink. I’m not (yet) a whiskey/rye/bourbon fan (which is a shame, considering where I live), so I wasn’t going to want to invest in a bunch of amber liquor that I wouldn’t otherwise want to drink.
The Martinez is believed to be the precursor to the much-simpler/possibly more elegant Martini. It was probably developed in the 1860s, but first showed up in a cocktail recipe book in 1884.
I cannot dance. I was after the Mr. forever to take ballroom dance lessons with me, and when he finally relented, I turned out to be the worst dancer imaginable. Graceless, herky-jerky and unleadable. But I love the idea of wearing a ball gown and doing some formal, ritualistic dance, and obviously it’s the sort of thing Henry would love, too.
Henry and Martin have several opportunities throughout ACAT and AFC to eat Angels on Horseback as well as their devilish counterparts.
Angels on Horseback date from sometime in the 1880s, and I haven’t been able to find any satisfactory explanation for the name. No one seems to know. They are bacon-wrapped oysters frequently served on bits of toast, so nothing particularly angelic or equine about them.
Devils on Horseback are dates, often stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, also served on toast. Again, where’s the devilry?
(In the books, they’re eating versions that include a little bed of toast, but I couldn’t find pictures of that, so perhaps the toast is out of favor in modern times?)
I included these particular canapes because they were indeed served frequently at the turn of the century, but mostly because I delighted in the names. Personally, I would not eat these because I’m a vegetarian, and even when I did eat meat, shellfish repulsed me, but I can see how the Devils might be delicious. Mmm, bacon. If I ever eat meat again, it will be bacon.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to eat these, please let me know what you thought of them.
Back in April, I took a trip to New York, which is one of my very favorite places. I visit as often as I can, which isn’t often enough. I went to go to the Rainbow Book Fair–not as an exhibitor this time, but to hang out with Leta Blake, who was an exhibitor. I’ve wanted to be in New York at the same time as her for years now, and this time it worked out. I also wanted to do some research: riding subways, visiting stations, as well as taking a couple of tours at the Tenement Museum.
I must confess, I think telling someone you love them for the first time on Valentine’s Day is embarrassingly corny–but that’s Henry. He’s sweet and sappy, and he wants to do the same things any young man in love would do. He wants his love to receive the same consideration as a “normal” person’s.
Near the beginning of A Willful Romantic (GQ Book 3), Henry and Martin go ice skating on the Lake in Central Park with their friends. This clip from 1902 is a good example of what I was picturing when I wrote the scene.
There was a signal to let people know the ice was ready for skating in Central Park: a red ball raised from the bell tower. Was it on a stick? Did it levitate? I haven’t a clue. For skating in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, they would fly a white flag with a red ball/circle from the streetcars to alert the public, so this red ball thing is pretty consistent. I have to say, the red ball=ice connection isn’t really an obvious one to me.
I have Henry and his friend Freddie Caldwell (and Martin and Tom, of course) go downtown to buy skates for the slaves, and what I had in mind was Modell’s, a sporting goods store that’s been around since 1889, with a store in Lower Manhattan dating from that time. I don’t know for a fact that they carried ice skates, but there’s no reason to think they didn’t.
(I was pretty good at rollerskating, but I’ve never gotten the hang of ice skating, and I have no idea what the difference might be.)
The masters and slaves in the GQ books do a lot of traveling by omnibus. The masters sit and the slaves stand in the aisle beside their seats. Historical omnibuses, whether horse-drawn or electric, would not have allowed for standing, or even aisles. Looking at pictures, there’s something of the clown car about them, absolutely crammed full of passengers.