I love Turner Classic Movies, at least in theory; I record 10 or 15 every month and usually wind up erasing to make room for the next batch that I won’t watch. This morning as I was about to erase some Humphrey Bogart movies, I decided to watch one first. Hmm, African Queen, Casablanca or All through the Night? I chose the latter because it was the only one I’d never seen. It came out a month or two after The Maltese Falcon and a few years before Casablanca, so Humphrey Bogart was just establishing his hard-boiled noir credentials.
In one scene, Gloves, as he’s called in the movie (there’s also someone called Spats), drinks a martini out of a tiny glass that looks like something left over from the set of The Wizard of Oz, if they had speakeasies in Munchkinland. Three-and-a-half ounces, four tops.
And why does a martini/cocktail glass need to be bigger than that? The standard martini recipe is 3 oz. or so of gin (or vodka, these days), and some trace amount of vermouth. The recipe for a cosmopolitan (l.5 oz. gin, .75 oz. each of three remaining ingredients) makes a 3.75 oz. drink. So those big glasses Barbara has (which we measured the capacity of last week and were shocked to find held around 11 ounces) are when full the equivalent of almost three standard cocktails.
Reader Judy had commented via email about glass size a few weeks ago: “As you might remember, my favorite cocktail glass is a vintage cut-crystal stemmed bowl like Bette or Myrna dripping in satin and sashaying around would be holding. And they are tiny by comparison to today’s martini boat.” During my photo search today I saw one of Bette Davis in All About Eve holding a martini glass that looks a little bigger than the one Humphrey “Gloves” Bogart drank from, but still no bigger than 5 oz., I would say. I also found one of James Bond pouring a shaken-not-stirred martini into a glass less than half the size of the ones Barbara and I generally use at her house.
You may have read reader Brian's comment that Nick and Nora would be scandalized at an Atlantic Monthly column stating today’s cocktails are “too strong;” when you consider that today’s cocktails are two to three times bigger than the ones Nick and Nora were drinking, maybe they wouldn’t be so much scandalized as drunk off their asses. Or should I say more drunk off their asses. On the one hand, today I came across a movie poster for The Thin Man that shows they were drinking mini martinis, as was the custom at the time. On the other hand, the movie includes several exchanges like this one: Nora (to Nick): How many drinks have you had? Nick: This will make six martinis. Nora (to waiter): All right. Will you bring me five more martinis, Leo, and line them up right here?
I’m tempted to switch out my glasses (which are “only” 7 oz.) for some vintage smaller ones. We could have the psychological advantage of being able to have two, yet still be able to stand up. And each of those two would be ice-cold, instead of room temperature like the last several sips from the “boats.”
Tomorrow Barbara is hosting a porch-side cocktail party. Barbara wondered what the theme should be (sometimes there’s a theme), and her husband said, “The French Resistance.” And she decided to go with that. I’m bringing a tureen of vichyssoise. The reason I bring it up is that I just realized that Casablanca, one of the movies I could have watched today, revolves around the wife of a prominent leader of the French Resistance. Everything is related. Here’s looking at you, kids.