In 1918, Dorothy Parker was a cracker-jack writer in her mid-20s, just getting going as a theater critic for Vanity Fair, when the Spanish flu struck the world. Then, like now, the epidemic brought Broadway to a grinding halt. The Roaring 20s that followed had her seated at the Algonquin Round Table, tossing out bon mots and tossing down martinis. It all started almost exactly 100 years ago.
Parker was two things we hardly have anymore — a public intellectual, and an unabashed appreciator of drink. We could use more of both, at least in moderation. Moderation was not Parker’s style and the gin really got to her, eventually. Still, the lively, Brooklyn-based New York Distilling Company has produced a couple of gins to honor the prolific writer, and it feels fitting. Most recently, I got a chance to try the limited edition Rose Petal Flavored edition.
A Bright Aroma and Finish
It’s very much in the aromatic style that prevails today, not in the vein of the straightahead Beefeater and its ilk. For the most part, the producer uses sustainably produced ingredients from its home state. The label promises “a unique blend of traditional and contemporary botanicals including Juniper Berries, Elderberries and Hibiscus Petals—a trio that contributes to its bright aroma and finish,” and indeed those delicate aromas waft right out of the bottle.
I really enjoyed this bottle, though I’m not sure the cantankerous Parker would have recognized it. She liked bite in her life and in her drinks. In the end, I felt that all that floweriness needed a cantilever. An icy-cold sturdy Negroni on the rocks worked well, tilted a little toward the bitter side.
At DorothyParker.com, the virtual home for something called the Dorothy Parker Society, they have (among other wonders) links to numerous recordings of her reading her brisk poems and other works. She sounds hard-boiled, worldly, resolutely New Yawk. Like someone, in short, you’d love to have a drink with.