In Code Name Hélène, Nancy Wake goes by many names, but no matter the alias, each persona has one thing in common: her love of cocktails, specifically ones with brandy. It only seems appropriate that we make a cocktail guide to accompany your book club’s discussion of the novel. So crack open the book, pour the liquor, and enjoy!
Tremblement de Terre (aka The Earthquake)
“‘Regardless, you’re the only person I know who calms rattled nerves with an Earthquake.’
‘This drink is a balm to the soul,’ she says, running the pad of one finger along the curled lemon peel on the rim of her glass. ‘That stupid English name doesn’t do it justice. Say it in French. With proper pronunciation. . . .’
‘Fine. Tremblement de Terre.’” (p. 13)
- 2½ ounce cognac
- ¼ ounce absinthe
- ¾ ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Garnish: orange twist
- 1 lemon twist
- Stir cognac and absinthe in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a lemon twist.
Le Soixante-Quinze (aka The French 75)
“‘Le soixante-quinze,’ he says, ‘courtesy of that gentleman in the corner.’
The French 75. It is the Pont Royal’s signature cocktail and the most expensive item on their drinks menu. I have always wanted to try one. . . . I take a sip. My mouth is instantly awash in the bright notes of gin, lemon, and champagne. Expensive. Top-shelf.” (p. 17)
- 2 ounces London dry gin
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- ¾ ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces Champagne
- Long spiral lemon twist (for serving)
- Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
- Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds.
- Strain cocktail through a Hawthorne strainer or a slotted spoon into a large flute.
- Top with Champagne; garnish with lemon twist.
Recipe source: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/french-75-3
The Brandy Cocktail
“Our waiter arrives to take our drink order and we all, in unison, request brandy. No water. No wine. We’re going straight to the liquor.” (p. 132)
- 2 ounces brandy
- ½ ounce orange curaçao liqueur
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- Garnish: lemon peel
- Gather the ingredients.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the brandy, curaçao, and bitters.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a lemon peel.
- Serve and enjoy.
Recipe source: https://www.thespruceeats.com/brandy-cocktail-recipe-759413
Orange Brandy Spritzer
“My favorite thing, however, and I am only slightly ashamed to admit this, is that we instruct Antoine to spike Old Man Fiocca’s drinks with Napoleon brandy and Grand Marnier. We mean him no harm. Truly. But payback is payback. Henri and I laugh as his mood improves throughout the evening and he remarks upon the vintage of the Champagne and the sweetness of the orange juice.” (p. 176)
- 3 ounces fresh orange juice
- 2 ounces ginger ale, chilled
- 2 cinnamon sticks (3-inch), divided
- 2–3 ice cubes
- Orange slices/wedges
- Place the orange juice, brandy, allspice berries, and one cinnamon stick, broken into pieces, into a cocktail shaker.
- Seal the lid onto the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 45–60 seconds (the longer you shake, the more spiced it will get).
- Strain the brandy mixture (leave the allspice berries and cinnamon stick behind) into a double old-fashioned glass (or similar) and then top it with ginger ale.
- Add ice cubes to the cocktail and garnish with a cinnamon stick and orange slices/wedges. Serve immediately.