While sorting through books for an upcoming move, I came upon my husband's cache of Agatha Christie mysteries and have been devouring them all summer. My favorites were written during the 1920's and 1930s, a period that roughly coincides with the heyday of the cocktail. While Christie's characters aren't heavy drinkers, they do like their gin: pink gin, double gin, gin fizz. In The Murder at the Vicarage, the fussy Mrs. Ridley describes her reaction to hearing a gun shot: "Clara had to bring me a glass of damson gin!" And here's Tony Marston, pausing on his way to an island retreat in And Then There Were None: "Heaps of time! . . . He'd have a gin and ginger beer. Fizzing hot day!" Given his fate, poor Mr. Marston should have stayed for a second and missed his ferry to Indian Island.
No wonder I've been craving gin cocktails. While I've never met a gin drink I didn't like, it's the French 75 that I turn to when I want something pretty to look at, easy to make, and yet complex enough to stay interesting all the way down. Named for an innovative piece of French artillery and comprising just four ingredients, the French 75 features nose-tickling bubbly as the gateway to a perfectly integrated combination of floral gin and citrus. And when made properly, it's as seductive as a Christie who-dunnit.
Stacey Harwood is managing editor of The Best American Poetry blog and website.