Several weeks ago, I read an NPR article called “How Tinseltown Got Tipsy: A Boozy Taste of Hollywood History.”  And I thought to myself … Hollywood gossip, celebrity stories, and cocktail recipes?  That’s a book for me!!!

I reserved a copy of Of All the Gin Joints: Stumbling Through Hollywood History through my library system, and as soon as I got it I started reading it right away. It’s filled with lots of gossip, stories, and alcohol-themed humor.

WC Fields on Drinking

The great thing about this book (or the problem with this book, depending on your point of view) is that the more I read it the more it inspires me to do.  Some of those tasks are small, like tracking down actors and actresses I didn’t know that well (Anna May Wong, Tom Mix, Ramon Novarro).  Some tasks are larger, like adding to my list of movies I want to re-watch or see for the very first time — Pandora’s Box, My Little Chickadee, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, The Gold Rush, Trader Horn, Scaramouche, The Lost Weekend. Rasputin and the Empress, The Big Sleep, The Blue Dahlia, The Sun Also Rises, It Happened One Night

But the biggest thing this book has inspired me to do is MAKE MORE DRINKS.

Of All the Gin Joints

This represents a dangerous trend.

Some of the drinks listed in this book look fascinating but are simply not manageable.  Did you know that when John Ford couldn’t get a bootlegger to fill his liquor needs that he would go to his Navy friends instead, who would get him the 180-proof grain alcohol used to power torpedo motors?  And that you can recreate his “Torpedo Juice” drink by substituting Everclear 190-proof grain alcohol?  Yeah, well I’m not gonna try it.  I’m curious, but I’m not that much of an alcoholic.  Or that much of a masochist.

However, there were a couple of gin drinks that looked cool, including an orange blossom:

Orange Blossom History and Recipe

So yes, I just bought my first bottle of gin in over a decade, and I’m going to give that a try.  I also want to try shaking things, stirring things, pouring things over the backs of spoons (?), and making orange wine.  Wait, orange wine?

Orange Wine

Yes, orange wine!

This is my ongoing project for this vacation week — take a bottle of dry white wine, pour out some of it, add orange zest and sugar, and refrigerate it for a week.  I tried it with a clementine instead of an orange, so it will technically be clementine wine instead of orange wine, but it’s a similar principle.

Beginning the Orange Wine Project

So we’ll see how that turns out.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book and I might even end up buying a copy because I think it’ll have good re-readibility.  My only criticisms are of the illustrations (I know they’re caricatures, but does each person HAVE to look like we’re seeing them through a funhouse mirror?) and of the font size in the recipes.  I mean, you DO want me to put the right amount of sugar in my orange wine, right?

Anyway, it’s definitely worth reading and it would be a cool gift for your favorite fan of old Hollywood and/or classic cocktails!