"Leading Ladies of Hollywood"
Last week, Song & Tonic, our cocktail branch, had the opportunity to work with one of the most iconic companies in Los Angeles: Warner Bros. Studios. They proverbial “they” say a lot of things but “they” are right about one thing: that persistence and faith pay off. The first time I visited Warner Bros was on February 9, 2018, shortly after meeting Special Events Sales Manager, Natalie Fulton, at a networking event.
When I first met Natalie, I expected the standard meeting room meeting or perhaps a cup of coffee in “Central Perk.” However, she took me on a two-hour private tour of the lot, which was absolutely amazing and tickled my I-haven’t-even-been-here-for-two-years sensibility. After talking about pairing music and cocktails to the Batman cars (which is honestly something I never thought I would say), we then walked through a beautiful exhibit of gowns worn by several of Hollywood’s most iconic female actors, among them the three ladies you will meet tonight. This sparked a discussion that finally led to last week, one of the most exciting events we’ve ever produced.
For those of you less familiar with our concept, at Song & Tonic we tell our stories by deconstructing both a song and a cocktail into their individual components. We then pair an instrument with each cocktail ingredient, which may switch roles depending on the drink and song. We put our own twist on our cocktails and interpretations of each song, which allows us to explore each component within the song and the cocktail individually. We then reconstruct both, layering each element in such a way that we can appreciate the completed harmony in both.
This evening we celebrated three women, three stories, three personalities through songs and cocktails. Though in many ways both the songs and cocktails were familiar to us, tonight we hoped to re-introduce the guests to these beloved and iconic actresses, melodies and tipples in a fresh and exciting way.
For our tasting, we selected three women whose place in American movie history and Warner Bros history is legendary. Each of our Leading Ladies was represented by both a song and a cocktail and as we moved through the evening, we guide the audience through each pairing. First, we introduced our Leading Lady, and then my partner, Prairie, explained a bit about each cocktail, its history, its significance, and its relation to our ladies. I then spoke about our partner song, giving some background and context, and its relevance to our actresses.
Our extraordinary musicians were: Iliana Rose on the piano, Kaytlin Hansen on bass, Patricia Teles on drums, and Kate Bass on vocals. Because each instrument represents the components that make up the cocktails and the songs, each musician plays a huge role in creating the unique and particular sounds, rhythms, and harmonies we present at our events. Because so many have asked, I have copied and pasted our program and script below so that you can follow along.
Ingrid Bergman - Feminine, Strong, Effortlessly Chic
Champagne Cocktail – Sparkling Wine | Brandy | Sugar Cube | Bitters | Lemon Peel
“As time goes by” - by Herman Hupfeld from Casablanca
Our first pairing brings us right to the heart of Warner Bros history. It’s almost impossible to think of Ingrid Bergman without thinking of the movie, Casablanca. In fact, when I first met Natalie here, she pointed out that almost every scene of the entire movie was shot here on the lot. Bergman knew from an early age that she wanted to be an actress, and first came to Hollywood at age 24, when she was invited to star in the movie, Intermezzo: A love story, a remake of a film by the same name she had made in her native country of Sweden just three years before. She has – ironically – been dubbed the “ideal of American womanhood,” and David O. Selznick, who directed Gone with the Wind, specifically noted her natural sweetness, her intelligence, and her complete dedication to her craft. She apparently even suggested that her dressing room be set up in such a way that she would never need to leave. She was strong, yet feminine, and at all moments effortlessly chic.
THE CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL
When we chose Ingrid Bergman as one of our leading ladies, we immediately thought of the Champagne Cocktail - one of the oldest known cocktails dating back to the mid 1800s. Champagne is a favorite of Bergman’s character, Ilsa’s, throughout Casablanca and brandy and even the Champagne Cocktail itself is drunk by various characters throughout the movie. At the time of filming, the Champagne Cocktail was all the rage for men and women alike. Like our leading lady, Ingrid Bergman, this drink is fresh, chic and endlessly stylish. The Champagne Cocktail is not a solo drink. It is one that lends itself to a crowd, preferably gathered around a swanky band about to play the classic “As Time Goes By.”
AS TIME GOES BY
It’s hard to hear “As time goes by” and not imagine Sam at the piano, right? This song was actually not written for the 1942 movie Casablanca, but by Herman Hupfeld in 1931 for the Broadway musical, Everybody’s Welcome. Interestingly, at the time Casablanca was released, the actor who played Sam could not record the song due to a musician’s strike so the studio reissued the 1931 version by Rudy Vallee. This song was voted No. 2 on the AFI’s “100 years, 100 songs” list, surpassed only by “Somewhere over the rainbow.” It was used throughout Casablanca as a leitmotif and the song is considered something of a “calling card” for Warner Bros, and you will have heard a phrase from it in our “call” - the Warner Bros theme music.
Now that we have met Ingrid Bergman and learned about the history of the champagne cocktail and this song, we’ll begin to deconstruct our pairing.
Sparkling Wine | Brandy | Sugar Cube | Bitters |
Since this is first and foremost a sparkling wine cocktail we’ll begin with ILIANA on KEYS. who plays the role of the SPARKLING WINE. The tinkling of the keys is akin to the bubbles and effervescence in this drink, the freshness that Ingrid Bergman brought to the characters she played.
Next we bring in KAYTLIN on BASS, who acts as the BRANDY in this drink. The Brandy represents Ingrid’s strength, adding a depth of flavor and body to the cocktail. The bass in this song, just like the brandy in our drink, really forms the foundation of the song’s harmony.
We now bring in PATRICIA on DRUMS who is our AROMATIC BITTERS. - this ingredient acts as the seasoning to the drink, something you don’t notice right away but would miss if it weren’t there. It also adds to the overall depth of flavor and nuance. Aromatic bitters perfumes the cocktail as does the brush on the drums, adding an extra spiciness in character to the song.
Lastly we bring in KATE on VOCALS representing our SUGAR CUBE, which mingles with the brandied cherry at the bottom of your glass. Were not talking about refined sugar here, but rather a rustic, raw sugar cube saturated in brandy like Kate’s honeyed voice, there not to overly sweeten the drink but rather to create even more sweet bubbles as it slowly dissolves. Ingrid Bergman was known for a naturally sweet temperament, and that is certainly reflected in this cocktail.
Now that we’ve introduced all the ingredients of our cocktail and the instruments of our song, we invite you to enjoy your Champagne Cocktail and “As time goes by”. Try to identify the parts of each song and cocktail as you listen and taste and remember this iconic Warner Bros actress.
Lauren Bacall - Bold, Smoldering, Sophisticated
Mezcal Old Fashioned – Mezcal | Simple Syrup | Orange Bitters | Orange Peel
“Quiet Night of Quiet Stars” by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Lauren Bacall’s smoky voice is unmistakable. Her smoldering eyes and sophistication unmatched. And her bold, no-nonsense approach to her craft from Hollywood to Broadway helped solidify her role as one of the greatest female stars of all time. She arrived in Hollywood at the tender age of 18, but her voice, elegance, and style belied her years. Warner Bros’ To Have & Have Not catapulted Bacall into instant stardom. She came away from the film a fully fledged movie star, and a woman in love. She had fallen for her co-star Humphrey Bogart – the same man who loved Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. It was alongside Bogart once again that she starred in Warner Bros’ The Big Sleep, the film that would solidify her iconic status as the ultimate Femme Fatale.
MEZCAL OLD FASHIONED
Our cocktail choice was a twist on a classic you may already know - the Old Fashioned - the first known documented cocktail. Here we presented a Mezcal Old Fashioned – a modern take from the recent craft cocktail revival that represented Bacall’s reputation as a modern woman with an edge, yet classically beautiful. The notorious smoke in the Mezcal was directly inspired by this leading lady’s throaty purr and smoldering good looks. The touch of orange and citrus in this drink represented the radiance and brightness she brought to all of her roles.
QUIET NIGHT OF QUIET STARS
The Brazilian samba beat has always represented warmth and relaxation to me, but it’s also somehow luxurious and captivating. Quiet Night of Quiet Stars allowed the mellow warmth of the Brazilian samba beat to come to the forefront, mirroring Lauren Bacall’s allure. We asked our guests to listen especially to the lyrics of this song, perhaps a peek into the Bogart-Bacall love story. The two were together “until the final flicker of life’s ember” when Bogart passed away in 1957 of lung cancer. We encouraged the guests – if they hadn’t already – truly to submit to their senses and become part of the timelessness of Hollywood as they sipped their Mezcal Old Fashioned and remembered the dazzling Lauren Bacall.
We began with Kala on Vocals, this time who represented the star ingredient in this cocktail - the Mezcal. Kala wang our sensual melody, acting as the sultry hint of smoke and burn in the mezcal.
ILIANA on KEYS represented the sweetness, the simple syrup that rounds out the mezcal edges and harmonizes with the other ingredients.
KAYTLIN on BASS was our orange bitters, the element that added texture, and helped to balance out the sweetness in the simple syrup.
PATRICIA on DRUMS was our orange peel garnish. The zest & oils from the twist of orange added that extra zing, a brightness - a samba beat and a light punch.
Elizabeth Taylor - Daring, Sultry, Timeless
Chocolate Martini – Vodka | Kahlua | Organic Chocolate Syrup | Salted Chocolate Rim
“At Last” by Gordon & Warren
Our last tasting paired a song and a cocktail to the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor, another femme fatale to be sure. Born in England, her family moved to California when she was seven. Her Hollywood career began at an even younger age than Lauren Bacall’s when she made her big screen splash in National Velvet at age 14 (though this was not her first film). From then on, she went to star in over 50 movies, not including TV appearances and other film and stage projects. She was known for her stunning looks, of course, her violet eyes, and her many marriages. However, it was her mature roles especially that left an indelible mark in Hollywood history for their passionate, glamorous, and often raw, portrayals of emotion, such as in Cat on a hot tin roof. Through many hardships – personal, financial, and artistic – her persistence withstood the test of time, allowing her to live large – whether on stage or as a philanthropist – until her very last years.
We chose to close tonight’s tasting with a woman who lived large and a cocktail to match - the Chocolate Martini. It is said that this drink was actually invented by Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in 1955 when they were filming in Marfa, Texas for Warner Bros’ Academy Award winning film, Giant. Apparently, they were both lovers of chocolate and vodka martinis and decided one night to create this boozy dessert drink that is now known around the globe as the Chocolatini. We upgraded the Hershey’s Syrup part and have added a salted rim to bring out the best in this decadent last cocktail.
You might be surprised to know that a song as well-known as “At Last” was actually a B-side song… but it was. B-side songs are songs placed on the back of a 78 record, perhaps because it was not considered as commercially viable as what was placed on the “A” side. However, because of a radio DJ, the B side was played out to audiences and, sometimes, ended up becoming even more well-known than the A side. Other examples are Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog,” the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields,” and The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.” Just as with the first song of our evening, “At Last” was written for a musical film, Sun Valley Serenade (who’s heard of that movie?). Glenn Miller and his orchestra popularized the song in 1942 but it’s Etta James’ – a native Angeleno, by the way – 1960 version that we all know and love. She took the original melody and improvised on it, much as Prairie has done to find just the right mixture in your cocktails and much like our musicians have done with our version of “At last. This pairing is very much our own, and it is our pleasure to share them with you as we remember Elizabeth Taylor, a beautiful woman who was always lived her very own style.
KAYTLIN on BASS represented the first taste that touches your lips when you take a sip - the salted chocolate rim. The salt helped to deepen the chocolate flavors and balances out the sweetness, as the bass lays out the foundational balance and harmony of the song.
KATE on VOICE was our star ingredient: the Chocolate Syrup. Smooth but bold, luscious and sweet, the chocolate syrup was a powerful ingredient much like Kate’s vocals are in this song.
Kala: PATRICIA on DRUMS was the Kahlua. Using her sticks instead of brushes this time around, the drums were the “hit” of flavor and caffeine that come through in the song and cocktail.
ILIANA on KEYS is our Vodka. The booze in this drink helped to guide all of the other ingredients in harmony. This is the grounding ingredient that delivers a serious punch.