Celebrate Valentine's Day, Dorothy Parker Style

By Michele Gouveia

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(Image credit: ARCHIVES)

"By the time you swear you're his,

Shivering and sighing.

And he vows his passion is,

Infinite, undying.

Lady make note of this —

One of you is lying."

So wrote Dorothy Parker, one of the greatest American wits of the 20th century. A critic, poet, and writer of short stories and screenplays, Mrs. Parker, as she was known, was a member of the legendary Algonquin Round Table, a group of writers and artists who would gather daily for lunch and gossip at the Algonquin Hotel in New York during the 1920s.

The woman who once said, "The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue," became famous for her keen observations and acerbic one-liners. She coined the phrase "Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses" and noted that "If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you."Once when Mrs. Parker was living at the Algonquin the hotel's manager, Frank Case, called and asked her if she had a gentleman in her room. She responded, "Just a minute. I'll ask him."

Much of Mrs. Parker's work deals with the perils of falling in love, which she wrote candidly about including her own numerous heartbreaks ("It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard."). With Valentine's Day fast approaching, it's hard not to think what caustic comments she might have had about a holiday devoted to love and whose symbol is a chubby angel with a bow and arrow. So this February 14th, instead of opening another boring box of chocolates, why not celebrate the day in the spirit of Mrs. Parker by mixing up a cocktail (or two).

Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick makes it easy with recipes for cocktails that Mrs. Parker and her friends would have enjoyed along with some modern day concoctions. You could try a vintage Cablegram, a Horse's Neck (don't worry; the main ingredient is bourbon), the recently created Acerbic Dorothy Parker (made, of course, with Dorothy Parker American Gin), or go all out with a Love Cocktail. Comprised of sloe gin, egg white, lemon juice, and raspberry syrup, the book's author promises that when mixed properly the result is a cocktail the color of blood. How holiday appropriate.

Just be sure to keep in mind what Mrs. Parker reportedly said, "I like to have a martini, two at the most. After three I'm under the table, after four I'm under my host."

Love Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces sloe gin

1 egg white

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon raspberry syrup

Shake all ingredients over cracked ice. Strain and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

Taken from Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick.