Time: 1973, circa. April
Place: The pool bar @ Cambridge Beaches, Sandys Parish, Bermuda.
Background, Part 1: Ellen and I honeymooned at Cambridge Beaches the previous June 4. And discounting my collegiate experience with Boone’s Farm Apple Wine (an elaboration that need not detain us here), our honeymoon launched me into the world of the serious cocktail… an activity pursued poolside at lunch, and at the Port ‘0 Call Bar before dinner. Sadly, my beverage choice during our honeymoon, regardless of the time of day, was limited to Bloody Mary’s. Bloody Mary, after Bloody Mary, after Bloody Mary. Meanwhile Ellen indulged in a variety of libations… Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Rum Swizzles, Planters’ Punches, Pina Coladas & the like.
Background, Part 2: We loved Cambridge Beaches so much that we returned less than a year later. Somewhere between the conclusion of our honeymoon, and our flight back to that wonderful Island, and having been “cocktail shamed” on our stay by Ellen, I was determined to expand my apéritif horizon beyond Bloody Mary’s. Luckily a magazine advert came to my rescue!
The Instrument of My Seduction: Air travel “back in the day” did not come with video or music enhancements. Rather, flight attendants would walk the aisles offering a selection of magazines to read. I chose a Newsweek (or Time). Browsing thru the articles my attention paused at a full page advertisement for Beefeater’s Gin. Most of the space was given to a photograph of a bottle of Beefeater’s on a patio table. Azure & emerald waters were pictured in the distance with a brilliant blue sky overhead. Next to the bottle was (presumably) a Martini on the rocks with two plump olives as a garnish, and a Martini up with a lemon twist. Both glasses featured condensation droplets attesting to the cold of the liquid contents, in contrast to the warmth of a mid-afternoon sun. To complete the picture, the advertiser included a scratch ‘n’ sniff strip (typically used for perfumes & etc.), which acted to “seal the deal”. I gazed at the picture, I scratched, I sniffed. Wonderfully clean and fresh with an alluring citrus scent! Done! QED, I had my cocktail!
By the Pool, at Lunch, on a Chaise… Nothing But Incapacitated: I will admit that I was anxious to put my cocktail discovery into play at first chance. And that opportunity arrived at lunch on our first day back at Cambridge Beaches. After an early swim at Morning Beach, we staked a claim to two chaises at the pool for lunch. Ellen ordered some rum concoction, and I ordered my very first Beefeater Martini, on the rocks with a twist. My first sip left me thoroughly devastated. I gagged. It was a supremely unpleasant. The lemon twist could barely disguise how yucky it tasted.
To make matters worse, there was Ellen happily consuming her Planters’ Punch (or whatever), perusing the lunch menu. I hid my displeasure by nonchalantly reviewing the lunch options. Then, a second attempt at the drink. Yes, I had been duped by some stupid advertisement! And there was Ellen, to my left, oblivious to my discontent, sipping a frosty Rum Swizzle. But, on the second go ‘round the Martini was less brutal. Maybe I could make my way thru it before switching to a Bloody Mary? There I was: a small side table with an umbrella that provided shade to the noon day sun, and also home to a Martini on the rocks that had only been diminished by 2 sips. Call it Kismet, but thankfully the heat of the day worked to undo some of the lethality of the drink, so that by my third taste the Martini had been diluted enough to provide a nearly desirable taste! Fresh and clean! Just like in the Ad! I think you see where this is going. By sip #4, I was won over, and my seduction was complete.
When our server returned to take our lunch order, Ellen ordered another Tequila Sunrise and I pushed ahead full steam & ordered my second Beefeater Martini. I relished each and every sip! Although my enjoyment came at a price. When our lunch was placed on the side table between us, even though my sandwich was not 18” from my hand, I was in no shape to reach it. I couldn’t move.
Ellen warned me not to go swimming for an hour. Swimming? I was worried that if I moved a muscle I would roll off the chaise.
Coda: At some point between Martini #2 and the present day, I switched from Beefeater’s to Tanqueray. I’ve enjoyed other brands on a selective basis, but Tanqueray has been my “go to” for some time. I’d say something on the order for 12,500 (give or take 100). But at this point, is counting really necessary?