One Friday evening, a few years ago, Elinor and I turned on the TV and came across the very strange film that is Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo.
We’d missed the first ten minutes or so and we had no idea what was going on, but we eventually worked out that the title character (played by Klaus Kinski) is trying to get a steamship to an inaccessible tributary of the Amazon so he can ship rubber along it.
He plans to reach the tributary by dragging the ship over a mountain. (No, not by himself – that would be silly. He also enlists the help of a previously undiscovered Amerindian tribe.)
But the purpose of all this ship dragging is so that Fitzcarraldo can become rich enough to build an opera house – he’s a huge fan of the opera singer Enrico Caruso and plays his records constantly.
This was my introduction to Caruso – I’d never really heard of him before. I later learned that he was arguably the first great recording star – he started in 1902 and made almost 300 records. In many ways, he formed in the public consciousness the image of what an opera singer should be like, reinforced by successors like Mario Lanza and Pavarotti.
Or at least a cocktail.
The Caruso cocktail was created at the Hotel Sevilla in Cuba while the great man was staying there. (Sadly, my cocktail book does not record what he thought of his namesake.)
1 msr gin
1 msr dry vermouth
1 msr creme de menthe
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain and pour into a martini glass.
My first thought on making this was, “It’s very, very green”.
The creme de menthe is certainly a strong part of the flavour, but it’s not overwhelming and it’s definitely not unpleasant – my initial fear that it would taste like mouthwash wasn’t borne out. It’s an easy drinking cocktail, with the sweetness of the mint nicely contrasted with the dryness of the vermouth.