Tarkington, Mixologist

The editor of Portland, Maine’s monthly magazine, has written a delightful analysis of the history of the cocktail known as the Sidecar.  “What a blast,” says Colin Sargent, “to crack open the Washington Post’s Metro section and run into breathless posturing (even lecturing!) about how the Sidecar should properly be served.”  Au, contraire!  [Wink.]  What more a blast to discover someone so eloquent on Tarkington…  and what’s more, who has read My Aimiable Uncle:

Former Kennebunkport summer resident and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Booth Tarkington “supposedly invented” the Sidecar with his frequent theatrical collaborator Harry Leon Wilson (among their triumphs, The Man From Home) “during a creative moment in Paris” around 1907, according to Suzannah Mayberry in My Amiable Uncle, a loving tribute which covers Tarkington’s devil-may-care days in Europe (FFI, see his cosmopolitan novel The Guest of Quesnay). That’s over ten years before Wikipedia’s claim of a loopy World War I American Army captain being driven in a motorcycle sidecar in Paris to his favorite bistro.

Tarkington’s ingredients of choice at the dawn of the last century were what they are today: cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice, and maybe a maraschino cherry. Glass selection and the possibility of a sugar rim are far more controversial.

At the blur of parties and receptions at his mansion “Seawood” on South Main Street in Kennebunkport, Tarkington’s friends were instructed to rhyme his first name with “Soothe,” easier to swallow if you’ve had a few Sidecars to let people know you’ve really arrived.

I’d have left a comment for Sargent if I could.  Good dude.

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