March 24th brings us National Cocktail Day. And while Detective Chan was a teetotaler; me–not so much. So with my given name Luigi, I thought we might pause to discover a savory sipper of the same name…“The Luigi!”
I first came across The Luigi recipe in a mystery read, Murder on a Mystery Tour (1987) by Marian Babson. It is a cliché Golden Age-style mystery, which takes place in the English countryside at Chortlesby Manor. The proprietors, Reggie and Midge, have carefully staged a “mystery tour” for American tourists and as you probably suspect a murder or two take place. The author dedicated her work to several mystery tours going strong at the time. A mystery tour, remember? When we could gather in groups without fear of death (there’s a bit of irony.) Here are the author’s dedicatees for grins-n-giggles:
- Ruth Windfeldt and her Scene of The Crime Tours
- Maggie Brewer and her I Love a Mystery Tours
- Nancy Wynne and Shirley Beaird and their Murder by The Book Tours
- Phyllis Brown and her Grounds For Murder Tours
- Dilys Wynn and her Murder Ink Tours
- Chapter House Tours and their Rendezvous With Murder Tours
- Joy Swift and her Murder Weekends Limited
- Charlotte McLead, with much thanks for her help
- and all aficionados everywhere
So back to our drink, The Luigi is one of the few drinks to call for tangerine juice (they happen to be in season!) It became popular in London, when first invented by Luigi Naintre owner of the renowned Embassy Club, circa 1920s. The Embassy Club was a kind of British-predecessor to Casablanca‘s “Ricks” and Mr. Naintre was known as the “Celebrated Prince of Tactfulness.” He climbed the ladder of London’s society from assistant butler to owner of one of London’s most distinguished nightclubs. Here is his creation (translated to U.S. Measurements):
- 1 tsp grenadine
- ½ oz Cointreau (or Triple Sec)
- Juice of one tangerine or mandarin (around 1 oz)
- 1 oz London dry gin
- 1 oz dry vermouth
- Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker over ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a citrus twist.
So should friends beckon you with a cry of “Luigi,” “Louis,” “Lewis,” or “Louise”; or perhaps your name begins with an “L” as in Lonnie, Lola, Lucas, or Lulu Bell? Oh Heck, or any ole name that begins with one of the 26 letters in the alphabet! Then pick up some tangerines, the necessary spirits and try The Luigi. Bottoms Up!
Postscript: While Detective Chan of literature preferred Tea or sarsaparilla, on screen Hollywood script writers occasionally poured Charlie libations. Most noteworthy, Charlie Chan in Paris (1935), where we see Charlie partake in Champagne, wine and an aperitif or cordial–how saucy is that!
“All mischief comes from opening the mouth”Charlie Chan Carries On (1930), Chapter 17