The Gin Rickey and The Great Gatsby

The Connection. The gin rickey was reportedly F. Scott Fitzgerald’s favorite drink. It’s also the only cocktail mentioned by name in The Great Gatsby. What better drink to sip on a porch or with a window wide open during the last days of summer?

Fitzgerald claimed he liked gin because it couldn’t be smelled on his breath. I’ll pause a moment while we all digest that skeptically. The cocktail is, however, refreshing, quick, and as healthy as a cocktail gets (which, admittedly, is not very). It can be made virgin by leaving out the gin and adding simple syrup or super fine sugar to taste, but that’s not necessarily recommended.

Gin Rickey

1 shot gin
1/2 shot fresh squeezed lime juice
Seltzer water
Lime zest

Pour the gin and the lime juice into a chilled high ball glass, add plenty of ice, and top off with seltzer water or club soda. Garnish with lime wedge or zest. This recipe should be adjusted to taste. If you like gin, up the ratio. If you’re hoping to disguise the gin on your breath, or if you’re looking for a more refreshing version, just up the seltzer.


The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
(180 pages) ♥♥♥

“Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope.”

The Plot. The Great Gatsby is a classic, decadent, prohibition-era soap opera set in Long Island. Most briefly put, it’s the story of Gatsby, who worked his way up from a penniless nobody to the 1920s version of a baller, but who is ultimately not cut out for the careless, unfeeling world of the upper elite.

Who should read it. Anyone really. It’s enjoyable, it’s fun, and it’s only 180 pages. It’s the ideal read for Labor Day weekend, being somewhere right smack dab in the middle of The Hunger Games and Crime and Punishment in terms of fun and literary cachet, and the pivotal action takes place during the last few days of summer.

Why I liked it. To be completely honest, I was a little disappointed that it was more a social commentary disguised as a soap opera than vice versa. I selected this book for a book club, and we were all glad we had read it, but disappointed that we were never thoroughly taken in by the characters and that we didn’t care much about the crazy things that happened to them. That’s debatably Fitzgerald’s point. There is no mistaking his disdain for the rich socialites who, whenever anything tragic or even unsavory strikes, simply move on and forget about it. The only genuine emotions come from the poor or middle class characters who, incidentally, also suffer the most. I was left with a distant pang of sympathy for those characters, but I had already closed the book and moved on from the story. After all, the narrator moved on so quickly, and the reader is at the mercy of the narrator, emotionally speaking.

And then there’s the last line, which sums up the book and sticks with you, still relevant, a perfect example of Fitzgerald’s delicate and precise prose: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Notes.

  • Another good reason to read The Great Gatsby is that other literary characters just love talking about it. Just this month I read Melissa Banks’s The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing and John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, both of which reference Gatsby. It’s always nice to feel more literate than the characters you’re reading about, and it only takes a day or two to breeze through.
  • Very excited for the 2013 movie. Visually, it has the potential to be stunning. Everyone loves art deco, lavish parties, and mansions by the water. Also, the cast is killer: Tobey Maguire (Carraway), Leonardo DiCaprio (Gatsby), and Carey Mulligan (Daisy), directed by Baz Lurhman. I should note that it’s going to be in 3D, which is both intriguing and a little alarming.
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