The Celluloid Pantry: Gibson Cocktails and All About Eve (1950)

[Beginning this week, we'll be rerunning some favorites from The Celluloid Pantry while Nora enjoys a writer's residency at the Millay Colony for the Arts. We'll be back with all-new posts December 4.]

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A crisp and delicious gin-based cocktail, the Gibson has a dramatic past.

In the 1930s, the magazine illustrator, Charles Dana Gibson stopped in for a drink at the New York Players Club, an elegant social club for people of the theater. When Gibson asked the bartender make something "a little different," he mixed up a concoction of gin and vermouth identical to a Martini in nearly all respects. The difference, however, was the garnish. Like a brilliant understudy, a cocktail onion stood in for the olive, winning over a new fan base.

In All About Eve (1950), veteran stage actress Margo Channing (Bette Davis), fears she will be usurped by her starry-eyed young protégé, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). Always eager to help her idol, the fresh-faced Eve has become involved in all aspects of Margo's life—including, Margo fears, her fiancé, Bill (Gary Merrill).

Hosting a cocktail party in honor of Bill's birthday, Margo's one-liners have as much snap and zing as the stiffest of drinks. When asked if she knows she ordered domestic gin for the party by mistake, Margo shoots back, "The only thing I ordered by mistake is the guests. They're domestic too, and they don't care what they drink as long as it burns!"

Her best friend Karen (Celeste Holm) knows something is amiss. She turns to Margo, who is drinking a one of a series of Gibsons, remarking, "We know you, we've seen you like this before. Is it over, or is it just the beginning?"

Margo plucks the onion from her cocktail, then drains the glass with a flourish.
"Fasten your seatbelts," she enunciates, "it's going to be a bumpy night."

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Gibson
makes one cocktail

1 3/4 oz. gin
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
pearl cocktail onion

Combine the gin and vermouth in a shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a pearl onion.

Originally posted June 13, 2006

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.