Planes, Trains & Other Mobiles
Originally Published for Five O’Clock, Harry’s Magazine
Armed with only a flask and a little ingenuity, Max Wastler elevates common cocktails with supplies from his seasonal surroundings.
Class Up Coach: The Aviation
There are those of us who still wear a tie when flying, in hopes it inspires a special occasion. For the imbibed equivalent, rely on the last known cocktail recipe book published before Prohibition, Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks. The book is famous for the inclusion of The Aviation, a cocktail created by Ensslin and replicated less effectively in subsequent cocktail books — the original recipe only recently rediscovered. The name stems from a peculiar ingredient, Crème de Violette, which incidentally fell out of the cocktail’s alchemy in those iterations succeeding Ensslin’s original. When added to a mixture of gin and lemon, the violet color turns a pale blue, resembling a cloudy sky. When flying, pack a small bottle of Crème de Violette in the carry-on. Your seat-mates will marvel at the concoction as you vigorously stir an order of gin from the airline cart with a squeeze of lemon, and a couple maraschino cherries. No cherries? No problem. Add more Violette.
The Scroll: The Greyhound
“The floors of bus stations are the same all over the country, always covered with butts and spit and they give a feeling of sadness that only bus stations have.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Sometimes it seems the rarest way to see the country is from the window of an interstate bus. To break up the boredom that’s sure to come as you find yourself in the flat parts, pick up a bottle of grapefruit juice or soda in a pinch, and mix equal parts gin and juice over ice for a perfect Greyhound, a cocktail made famous by The Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930.
Ducking the Crop-Duster: The Gibson
Of all the drinking Cary Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill does in Hitchcock’s classic suspense film, North by Northwest, the strangest drinking happened aboard the 20th Century Limited bound for Chicago. Upon meeting the beautiful blonde Eve Kendall, he orders a Gibson. Gin and vermouth, garnished with a pearl onion. One imagines Thornhill didn’t set out to charm with his fresh breath. Neither here nor there. The likelihood that today’s trains stock pickled onions shrinks every day. The next time you hit the dining car, order a Gin Martini, and proffer your own onions. Pack your breast pocket with a small tin of cocktail onions, found in your grocer’s canned goods aisle.
Pilar’s Pail: Hemingway Daiquiri
“But if you land a big tuna after a six-hour fight, fight him man against fish until your muscles are nauseated with the unceasing strain, and finally bring him up alongside the boat, green-blue and silver in the lazy ocean, you will be purified and you will be able to enter unabashed into the presence of the very elder gods and they will make you welcome.” – Ernest Hemingway, on fishing in Spain, 1922
Whether or not you’ll soon find yourself and your companion on a boat bound for Cuba, pay tribute to Papa with this ice bucket version of Hemingway’s famous Daiquiri. Fill a medium-sized basin halfway with ice, pour out the contents of a flask or two of white rum, squeeze out at least four limes and two grapefruits. Strain into chilled glasses, topped with four maraschino cherries each. As you sip, you’ll feel like you’ve entered into the presence of Hemingway, if not the elder gods.
Illustrations by Jenny Mortsell