As far as drink histories go, you won’t find a more Hollywood story than this. It involves a long-standing Beverly Hils restaurant that counted Hollywood A-listers among its regulars, some flashy bartending technique, some mythmaking and tall tales, and the Rat Pack’s one and only King of Cool, Dean Martin.
Chasen’s was an LA restaurant that was set up in 1936. It was famous for its chilli, and captured the attentions of the who’s who of Hollywood: Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, and Clark Gable were just a few of the luminaries to grace its booths and barstools.
Later on, when they weren’t in Las Vegas, Chasen’s was also the hangout for the Rat Pack.
The story of how the Flame of Love came about is pretty solid, though the details change depending on who’s doing the telling (given the pranks and the tall tales that surrounded the Rat Pack this is, perhaps, no surprise).
So here’s one telling of it, anyway.
One night in comes Dino. He tells Chasen’s bartender, Pepe Ruiz, that he’s tired of drinking the same old Martini over and over again. Ruiz takes this on board. When Dino next comes in, Ruiz pops a little fino sherry into Martin’s Martini, and begins flaming orange zests over the martini glass. He shakes up the drink — according to Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail, Ruiz preferred to shake this drink — and pours it into the glass before some final pyrotechnics over the top.
The details from here get fuzzy, but at some point Dino introduces Frank Sinatra to the drink. Sinatra likes it so much, he buys a round — some say for the whole bar. Another version of it reckons it was Sinatra’s birthday and he bought it for his 52 guests. DeGroff’s telling reckons the order was for 200 drinks, and that Ruiz had to bring all the staff out of the kitchen and into the bar to pump them out.
Given that DeGroff is about as Hollywood as bartenders get, we’re inclined to take his word for it.
Flame of Love
45ml Stolichnaya Premium Vodka
15ml fino sherry
Stir both the vodka and sherry over ice. Zest orange into a chilled coupette, then strain mix into glass. Flame an orange zest on top of the drink, and drop the zest in for garnish.
Notes on ingredients:
• Stolichnaya Premium Vodka is an exceptionally smooth vodka with marshmallow, mineral and mild fruity aromas. Its supple entry leads to a smooth palate of frosting, talc and citrus rind flavours.
• The Stolichnaya distillery, Talvis, is located in Tambov, Russia. The vodka is filtered and bottled at Stolichnaya’s second home in Riga, Latvia.
• Stoli continues to maintain the brands Russian roots is because the Alpha Spirit alcohol used in production is sourced from Russia, but Stoli becomes vodka in the Baltic city of Riga, Latvia where the filtering, blending and bottling takes place – as it has done since 1948.
• The earth in Tambov, where Stoli sources its grain, is renowned for being one of the most fertile soils on the planet: the topsoil is as much as 12 metres deep and incredibly rich in humus, which gives the land its life and fertility. The soil is literally black and so rich that it requires almost no fertilisation, which is why the
grain is selected from this region
for its purity.
Notes supplied courtesy of Stolichnaya