Tag Archives: Kate Middleton

Savoy Cocktails of the Week: Du Barry, Duchess & Duke of Marlborough

Last week’s Savoy Cocktail Project selections rather cosmically coincided with the royal wedding. Seriously. It just happened to happen. 100% honest. Seriously. Sometimes the cosmos just converge.

Let’s go ahead and walk through each one (recipes found here).

The Du Barry is ostensibly named for Madame du Barry, also known as the Comtesse du Barry or Louis XVI of France’s last and trashiest mistress. Probably not quite as trashy as Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette made her out to be, but trashy all the same—even though she was an interesting patron of my specialty, the decorative arts. Neo-classicism? Yes.

Similar to the Deep Sea, the du Barry is a dressed up martini 1:2 on the vermouth and gin, with absinthe and bitters for flare. It was OK. We were not blown away, and I probably would not bother to make it again (unless an eighteenth-century theme event required a beverage so named), but it wasn’t bad. Tasters enjoyed the extra aroma given by the absinthe.

The Duchess was strong in flavor but unappealing in appearance what with the mixing of sage green absinthe, red sweet vermouth and the dry variety. A taster who adores black licorice and does not have much experience with absinthe loved the cocktail, despite the color. Absinthe is one of those liquors lots of people think will be awful because of its long reputation. Another convert, victory.

As this cocktail apparently refer to any duchess, we imbibed it on Friday evening in honor of the new Duchess of Cambridge who we are now supposed to refer to as Catherine instead of Kate [Middleton]. It seemed fitting.

I also did some research on the title (unlike the utter lack of research performed when I made a quip about Pippa Middleton’s name). According to Wikipedia a former Duchess of Cambridge graced the earth in the early nineteenth century, sporting delightfully Empire fashions and a thoroughly German name. She was Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel, who became the wife of a younger royal brother of George IV and William IV.

And now let the Wikipedia “Duchess of Cambridge” confusion begin.

The Duke of Marlborough was by far my favorite cocktail of the bunch. A delicious combination of sherry, Italian vermouth and orange bitters… I had to make myself a second. I would serve these without hesitation at any gather of folk who enjoy a smooth cocktail. The sherry lent a slightly lower alcoholic punch than many of the other Savoy cocktails we have encountered—hence my second go—and I think it present well either before or after a meal.

There have been several Dukes of Marlborough; however, Wikipedia assures me that when mentioned in a vacuum, the title invariably refers to the first, John Churchill for whom Queen Anne created the hereditary title. The Duke of Marlborough was a notable English military man in the never-ending quest to put the French in their place. And no, the surname Churchill is not coincidental: the seventh duke was the paternal grandfather to Sir Winston.

Interestingly: “The Dukedom of Marlborough is the only dukedom in the United Kingdom that can still pass to a woman and through a woman. However, the Dukedom does not follow male-preference primogeniture as most other peerages that allow succession by females and cognatic descendants do. It actually follows a kind of semi-Salic Law.”

It is all very confusing. Yay history.

As you can imagine, after such an intense week it is necessary to return to form. We have one singular cocktail to embrace in the upcoming days. Turn your readers to page 65 and take a gander at the East Indian Cocktail, an experiment in changing just one ingredient from the duke’s cocktail.

Equal parts of French Vermouth and Sherry, with a dash of Orange Bitters.

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

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Pondering the Royal Wedding

telegraph.co.uk

I have been mulling over the whole royal wedding thing. I read David Weigel’s “In Defense of the Frivolous Royal-Watching” for Slate Magazine; I went on to suggested articles by Amanda Hess, Petula Dvorak and Matthew Yglesias with its slew of cranky comments. I percolated.

Weigel wrote: “First there was the royal wedding hype. Then, there was the backlash to the royal wedding hype. Then, there was the backlash to the backlash to the royal wedding hype.”

Precision.

At the beginning, I remember the cover stories and the endless replaying of the engagement announcement clips. I thought briefly to myself, “Oh that’s nice,” before saying something snippy about why the 10 o’clock news never covers actual news and could we please get on with it?

Going into last week, the only reason I was sure of the date was the souvenir mug that recently made it’s way across the Atlantic and into our kitchen, the merit of which—for me—was deeply rooted in the Regretsy post regarding mugs mistakenly featuring Prince Harry (despite fancy detailing).

I figured I would click through a few slide shows of the whole affair once all was said and done. I am vastly entertained by hats.

And then I remembered that I am unemployed, so why not? I remembered that it is OK to like seemingly silly things once in a while. I also remembered that I like to sleep. Solution: I DVR’d BBC America’s coverage, along with Today and The View (which was an embarrassment for the hosts and I felt through-and-through each prick of Barbara Walters’ pain). The only thing I saw live was the circa 9:30 CST Aston Martin appearance, which may have been the best part.

dailybeast.com

It was cute.  If it hadn’t been an Aston Martin, it would have even been a little kitsch.

dailybeast.com

Actually, with those 1990s-esque neon-colored initialed balloons—it was kind of kitsch, which provided a feeling of authenticity, of fun and joy in the day. It wasn’t boring. In fact, the convertible exit was what prompted me to actually delve into the DVR menu in order to see how else the royal couple had attempted to give some lightness to their nuptials.

So I assessed the BBC coverage situation. It was lengthy. I won’t lie: I fast-forwarded through some of it. The endless street parties throughout the isles? No, thank you. People waiting in line? No, thank you. Interviews with every England coach? No, thank you.

Historian Simon Schama voicing my exact thoughts about the use of young trees lining the aisle providing an organic echo of the soaring Gothic arch of Westminster Abbey? Yes, please. It was inspired, perfect and I loved it. If I get my childhood wish and marry in a Gothic cathedral, I want trees. Done and done. Copied.

dailybeast.com

Seriously. Whoever suggested trees should get a medal.

All in all, it was sort of exactly what one should have expected. The line between impersonal pomp and perceived personable approachability was danced and a satisfying show was given.

I think the word “given” is key here. As much as plenty of people would rather stab their eyes out than watch the royal wedding, and as much as plenty of Londoners fled for the long weekend, a lovely show was provided for those interested. What is the point of having a powerless monarchy if they don’t give you a show once in a while?

flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy/

The carriage procession delivered like the end to an animated Disney princess movie (somewhere between Cinderella and Robin Hood, if you’re asking me as the expert I am).

The gown evoked a Tudor-esque silhouette with the long tight sleeves, corseted bodice and padded triangular skirt (for princess story aficionados, hitting just a few stylistic notes later than Sleeping Beauty’s dress).

Prince William’s uniform on the other hand evoked Cinderella’s later nineteenth century prince-with-no-name-and-barely-a-face, except that this prince has a name and a face, and evidently was interested in having a personal royal wedding.

telegraph.co.uk

It wasn’t surprising. It wasn’t off-putting. It was enjoyable. It mixed necessary pomp with what felt like a personalized shot at naturalism as far as such can be achieved.  It was what it was.

Which sort of brings me to my point, and the final decision that all my percolating came to: [we don’t have this in the United States, but] it is a nice, hopeful, patriotic, national show that the wide public is invited to witness. You can enjoy it, or you can leave it. It doesn’t matter. If it makes you happy to watch, then watch. If not, that’s cool too, but forced negativity based on a desire to prove oneself to be above engaging with outdated royalty is besides the point. At best, they provide entertainment or the occasional comfort on some level. At worst they do embarrassing things like wear Nazi uniforms to a costume party, which gives everyone a chance to shake their heads and rant. On average they are boring figureheads who stay out of politics and look nice on special occasions. It’s not as if they have any actual life-ruining powers.

orlandosentinel.com/ Pierre-Philippe Marcou/ AFP/ Getty

It might seem silly. It certainly is excessive, but you know, every few decades shining up the old Rolls and Landau, giving the people a show—why not?

orlandosentinel.com/ Peter Macdiarmi/ Getty

A woman in the crowd outside Buckingham Palace shortly before the kiss said to a BBC reporter, “With all going on in the world today… it’s nice just to have fun and just to be British.”

I think this was the overall sentiment of the day. Schama declared the day as “the triumph of sentiment” (which has kind of been the British monarchy’s thing since Victoria, let’s face it). He also noted “there’s a sort of wisdom when you suspend cynicism.” It’s nice to have a nice news day. You don’t have to be obsessed with princes and princesses to recognize that. And sometimes our cynicism is just as sickening as getting lost in the idea of a fairy tale day.

So at first, I was politely interested/disinterested. I’m not 13 anymore, I will not be adding any commemorative magazines to my library. Then I felt strongly that I should not be interested. After all, I am not a cat lady making tea sandwiches at 4 a.m in flannel pajamas. And then I realized that there is no harm in engaging with it. Hell, I watch the Oscars every year like it’s a religion. If I am going to be snooty about actively not caring that William and Kate are getting married, then I probably shouldn’t keep doing an Oscars best and worst breakdown every year focusing not on anyone’s merit but the entertainment of the evening.

On that note, you better believe I took a few notes on my phone, so here’s my list of moments and things. You knew it was coming after my ponderings. I cannot help myself.

  • First of all, is Pippa short for something? If not, I bet the Middletons are really glad they named their eldest daughter Catherine. Princess Pippa just doesn’t seem in the cards. It is spunky though.
  • Some brass band somewhere at some point was playing “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” and now I am going to have to watch My Fair Lady, because it is the best.
  • Posh Spice, what on earth were you wearing? I mean really. First of all, you are wearing black at a wedding. Second of all, you are wearing hooker shoes from 1999. Third of all, your hat would have won worst hat if Princess Beatrice hadn’t shown up later. In fact, maybe it still does, because you wore black to a midday wedding.
  • zimbio.com

    Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha did not wear a hat. Isn’t that against dress code? She certainly looked the odd woman out.

  • There was an awkward moment where Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall was trying to discretely side step into place for the procession into the Abbey… but it took far too many steps for her to get into position. Awk.
  • flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy

    Dear Queen Elizabeth II: way to wear canary yellow (I am told the proper term is primrose). I applaud your bold fashion choice, despite the fact that you just had the same coat and hat that you always wear done up in a new color (I prefer you blue and red ensemble from the 27th) I understand, the sartorial choices for 85-year-old lady monarchs are scarce. Also, I am beginning to ponder your life and I think you might be sassy. More thoughts forthcoming.

  • That time it took about an hour just to load Kate Middleton’s train into the Rolls Royce.
  • There was an applaudable lack of tears at the ceremony. So many smiles. William and Kate were smiling through the whole thing. That’s nice. Even the Duke of Edinburgh managed to stay awake long enough for a few vague expressions of joy.
  • Remember that time the ring just wouldn’t go over her knuckle?
  • I quite enjoyed the sermon. There I said it.
  • Awkward moments: “God Save the Queen,” camera zooms in on the queen and her husband awkwardly pretending to mumble the lyrics while she sits there being lauded.

  • flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy

    flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchy

    I wish I was one of the little bridesmaids who got to ride in an open carriage with Prince Harry back to Buckingham Palace. There, I said it. Although if I was 5 years old or whatever, I would probably have rather been riding with the pretty lady than some ginger.

  • Did you know that after the wedding three hours of bell peeling from Westminster Abbey ensued. Three. Hours. Of. Bell. Peeling.
  • I have to admit one of my favorite things in life in general is when horses are supposed to be behaving in a dignified manner and instead they do weird things with their gums, or reach over and start nibbling or head butting the equine next to them. This brings me joy.
  • I close with what may be the most likeable thing Prince Charles has ever done: Holding up tiny bridesmaid Eliza Lopes during the balcony appearance.

    flickr.com/photos/britishmonarchyy

Also, the best thing I have discovered in my post-wedding research: British Monarchy has a Flickr account.

Also, Kate Middleton for the Win is pretty funny, especially if you take the time to scroll through past the first page.

I have a lot of spare time.

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Royal Wedding Day is Here!

It’s the day you have all been waiting for.

I am not great with dates, but luckily my sister has this fantastic tea cup situation inscribed with the date.

First of all, being uninformed about most things, I find myself boggled—right off the bat—don’t people usually get married on Saturdays?

I mean, I don’t begrudge anyone a day off work (which according to all my British sources is the highlight of this whole affair), but… well, whatever, I find it confusing.

And while this post is up bright and early (or rather, I suppose it is dark and early), I am not. Sorry. For those of you willing and able to wake up at before God to watch the nuptials… I suggest you invest in some 5 Hour Energy for the afternoon.

alisonjackson.com

Despite my propensity for sleeping in, I am looking forward to the endless slide shows that will surely be spawned by the 11.7 million (in-house estimate) members of the press in attendance.

In the meantime, I will simply revel in being followed by Alison Jackson’s @Queenie_Uncut AKA HRH Queen Elizabeth II (even though I quite preferred the first), and exploring the companion tweetings of @Kate_Uncut, @Wills_Uncut and the rest of the gang.

In case this is all quite confusing to you, Jackson explores the cult of celebrity and is the mind behind the faux-reality videos, pictures, et cetera of the royal wedding hullabaloo.

Yup.

So how else has Words to Bumble been preparing?

First of all, I got myself followed on Twitter by @Lynda_Margaret for a brief spell. She apparently has a business teaching women to be ladies and long story short her website includes a how-to on functioning like a human at High Tea.

As I am not a lady, this only served to make me hungry, and I have been eating watercress tea sandwiches for about a week in preparation for the big day. Sources tell me British people literally cannot survive a day without watercress. I love watercress, so there’s one point for me in my quest to emigrate.

No comment on either why I was followed or subsequently un-followed. None.

Here is my delicious watercress sandwich recipe, quite possibly unlike any actual traditional British recipe aside from the inclusion of bread and watercress:

Two slices of thin white bread, lightly toasted and then cooled a touch. Spread on a layer of Fromage d’Affinois, sprinkle a touch of salt and pepper on the cheese. Then pile up more watercress than you think and slap on that second piece of bread. Squish. Cut diagonally. Devour.

Since Easter just happened and I still have a lot of hard boiled eggs around the house, you might want to try one of those on the side.

You should probably drink some tea as well, thus signifying the tea sandwich-ness of it all. Plus, if you are up at 4 a.m., you will want some caffeine.

Wedding Day: Woot, woot.

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A Royal Porcelain Mug—Featuring the Correct Prince

My family recently hosted a pair of family friends for dinner. They happen to be Londoners. They suffered no hesitation when selecting the appropriate gift for my sister: a royal wedding mug.

Yes, in my family home now resides a delicate Bone China William & Catherine 4Ever mug. I checked with my super-insider decorative arts skills: indeed the mug does prove to be translucent when held up to the light (yes, that is a fantastic way to determine whether or not something is porcelain).

Even better, it features the unicorn of the United Kingdom coat of arms. My sister may have been most excited about the unicorn.

Unlike the “Harry & Kate” mug that went viral on March 18th, this one does not feature “ornate detailing,” but it does feature Prince William instead of Prince Ginger. This is probably because it is one of seven high-quality, 100% British commemorative mugs produced by McLaggan and Smith for the occasion.

I want them all. Especially the cartoon strip one. And the royal jelly one. Heck, I love them all!

Sidebar: note the fairly uninteresting brouhaha of last week regarding Prince William’s decision not to sport a wedding ring… I guess that memo did not make it to McLaggan Smith before they designed the announcement side of the mug. Too bad. I forgive them based on the merits of the classy silhouette mug and the fact that they know which prince is which.

BritishScienceAssociation.org

Don’t you wish you had British friends who brought you things like sugar mice, UK Harry Potter editions and collectible china?

Call me when you get your commemorative mug and we can have a tea party. I have a silver camel-shaped tea pot.

Really. I do.

 

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Things You Need to Know From the Past Week or So

In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, which honestly, you really should because I am just a wealth of wonderful information, quips and minutiae… I am going to go all bullet points on you and note a couple things that you should note if you haven’t already.

  1. George W. Bush’s mother put a miscarried fetus in a jar and that somehow made Dubya super pro-life. Dear creepy, stop. Old news by now, but still. Ew.
  2. Johnny Weir will be judging—aka utilizing his second nature—on ABC’s Skating with the Stars, a post-Olympic year take-off of Dancing with the Stars which is sure to be horrid and amazing all at the same time. I cannot wait.
  3. Scott Hamilton returned to comment on figure skating at Skate America and there will be a post to follow, revealing all the magic.
  4. On the final and drunkest hour of the The Today Show, Kathie Lee and Hoda recently re-created the evolution of dance YouTube video. Kathie Lee threw a tantrum the entire time. Hoda got really excited about “getting low” and the whole thing is hilarious and merits watching to the end. Promise.
  5. A coyote was spotting gamboling down State Street in Chicago moments after my “Fear the Coyote” post, thus confirming all my fears ever and that I suffer not because I live in the wilderness but because they have no fear. Note that last year one wandered into a Loop restaurant and just hung out unnoticed for way too long.
  6. I learned by watching Conan that that really is Jack McBrayer’s voice.
  7. And if you really live under a rock, Tina Fey won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Amy Poehler said she was rocking the Evita essence.
  8. Lastly, Andy Samberg’s SNL digital short about the Model UN was fully hilarious and my sister and I might be in the process of memorizing it inadvertently, because we like to shout it randomly at each other. You heard it here first.
  9. The Chicago Sun-Times misspelled Kate Middleton as “Middleman” throughout an entire article on her and Prince William’s engagement in today’s paper. It was the saddest thing I ever skimmed, because in another article that was specifically about her ring, they had the spelling correct. Does this mean I can get a job as fact-checker or something?
  10. And last but not least—in fact most—the Beatles are finally on iTunes, and I found out from Voldemorte. (P.S. if you have an extra ticket for Harry Potter this weekend, call me).

 

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