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Jeff Houck

The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.

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The Sip: Drinking In ‘The Great Gatsby’ With Martinis And Mint Julep.

Posted May 7, 2013 by Jeff Houck

Updated May 7, 2013 at 03:13 PM

The Great Gatsby - Leonardo DiCaprio

It’s understandable if you get the urge to tipple a few cocktails after watching the film version of the book “The Great Gatsby.”

I know I’ll want a cocktail, but that’s because everything Baz Luhrmann directs gives me a headache.

Alas, that’s another blog post.

The boozy reminders are everywhere in “Gatsby.” Author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel liberally uses drinks to define characters and frame the excesses of their gilded lifestyle amid the Prohibition Era’s restrictions.

Flappers in the book massaged champagne into Gatsby’s hair. The sweet French wine Sauternes was what Daisy got drunk on before her wedding. And mint juleps are the drink of choice at the Plaza Hotel when Tom, Gatsby and Daisy have their dust-up.

I asked Dean Hurst, director of spirits for Bern’s and SideBern’s in Tampa for a few Gatsby recommendations. He and bartender Danny Guess of Fly Bar in Tampa released an e-book late last year called “25 Classic Cocktails.” [link]


Great Gatsby Cocktails

He suggested a julep made with high-proof bourbon – he used 100-proof Four Roses, a distillery that operated in the 1920s. (The company stayed in business claiming it was making medicinal alcohol. Medicinal, I guess, was in the lips of the beholder.) Hurst says a high-proof bourbon will fight off the watering down effect of the julep’s crushed ice.

Hurst also advises not to muddle the mint in the julep too hard. “That way you get the oils of the mint leaf without getting the more vegetal notes,” he said.


Great Gatsby Cocktails

He also picked a gin martini, using 2 ounces of gin with 1 ounce of dry vermouth like Dolin or Noilly Prat, and a dash of orange bitters.

Drink up while you can Gatsby wannabes. You never can tell what the stock market will do tomorrow.


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Great Gatsby Cocktails


7-8           Mint leaves
1 teaspoon   Sugar
3 ounces     Bourbon

Muddle mint and sugar in the serving glass, which should be a silver cup.

Add crushed ice halfway and stir with a swizzle stick until the glass frosts.  Top off with more crushed ice and a few mint sprigs, add a straw and you are done.


* * * * *

Great Gatsby Cocktails


2 ounces   Gin, Tanqueray Malacca
1 ounce     Dry Vermouth, Dolin
1 dash       Orange Bitters

Stir and serve in a chilled coupe with a twist of lemon peel



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