I am a sucker for nostalgia. Anything that suggests a yearning sense of time passed immediately snags my attention. When I was living in Germany (I too have travelled) there was a tiny shop in Bad Nauheim called Zeitgeist. Over here it would have been too too kitsch; over there the oddities and collectibles were too tempting not to spend a couple of hours browsing through, if only for a misplaced sense of home. (Although how’s this for forethought: I bought MCD – at that time ‘just a friend’ – the most beautiful chess set, thinking one day he might use it to play with his children. It now sits in our dining room, awaiting MCD Jr’s no doubt keen involvement). The objects in there made me want to own them, to connect me in some tangible way to another time – most often the Twenties. I can’t be the only person who really quite desperately longs for a sepia-toned globe for a drinks cabinet? But then my ideal home is Eltham Palace and they have one, so you see where I’m coming from.
I am, as you see, quite suggestible. So when I read in Victoria Moore’s How to Drink about Negronis and their evocation of Florence and the Forties and palazzos et al, I think, That is the drink for me. I spent a very nice holiday pre-baby in Venice drinking 'lo Spritz – Prosecco with a dash of Campari - at nearly every opportunity, so glamorous and quasi-Italian did it make me feel. A Negroni is like a supercharged injection of Sophia Loren-ness. I don’t think I could pass a Saturday night without one now. When I shall fit my dirty Martinis in, I don’t quite know.
Simply pour one part Campari, one part red vermouth and one part gin over a generous amount of ice in a tumbler. Drink whilst ensuring you are feeling card-sharp and endlessly, Dorothy Parker-style witty. This feeling will increase as you drink. I’m not one to caution against drinking, but one of these is a rocket. I haven’t dared have two yet.
*Apart from the afore-mentioned martinis, wine both still and sparkling, Bloody Marys and cocktails of all descriptions apart from sweet and creamy.