Imitation of Life: 'The Faux de Vie'

by Ed Sikov

Cocktail Chatter

From the mailbag comes this gem-like nugget: "You're a really great writer, Ed. You're also a mess." I say: True on both counts! I don't think I'm bragging when I agree with the first part. I'm sure most of you have something you know you're good at, whether it's managing staff, making ceramic bowls, salesmanship or cooking. It's good for your state of mind; it builds confidence to have confidence. As for the second point, I acknowledge that, too. I used to be more of a mess than I am now, but I'm still neurotic. Hey, I'm a gay Jew from a cruddy little town in western Pennsylvania. I got called vicious names every damned day until I escaped to college. What do you expect?

The message writer was referring to a specific column - the "Yankee Mint Julep" one, in which I respond to Kyle and Robbie's acoustically vibrant and (to me) demoralizing sex romp upstairs at the beach house by swigging from a magnum of Jack Daniels. It was a pretty good column, I think, but the response brought up a fact I've not made a point of stating directly. As I near the end of my second season as "Cocktail Chatter" columnist, it's time to set the record straight (so to speak):

Except for the recipes, "Cocktail Chatter" is pure fiction. I make this stuff up, people. There is no Kyle, no Robbie, no Craig, no Jack Fogg.... There's sort of a Dan, but that's not his real name, and he doesn't work for a pharmaceutical company. Some of the characters were originally based on people I know, and some are purely my own creation. But their origins are irrelevant because they all grew into different, fully formed (albeit fictional) people the more I wrote about them. These nonexistent folks don't let me put words in their mouth they don't think they'd really say. It's like I'm channeling them, and when I add a word they don't like they make me delete it. A novelist friend of mine was not at all surprised when I mentioned this bizarre situation to him. He can't force his characters to do or say what he wants them to do or say either. They, too, have their own voices and personalities, and he can't control them either.

In that spirit, or perhaps in those spirits - or maybe even in the spirit of those spirits who drink spirits - I created an original cocktail: "The Faux de Vie." As you may know, Eau de Vie is a clear, double-distilled brandy that has the flavor of the fruit from which it is distilled. Varieties include pear, raspberry, plum and peach. Eau de Vie translates as Water of Life, but a fine Eau de Vie is pricier than even the most expensive bottled water. It can run you $120 or more.

So forget the real stuff and make yourself a Faux de Vie! Get yourself a copy of the extraordinarily gorgeous and superbly entertaining "Imitation of Life," the 1959 tearjerker directed by the great Douglas Sirk and starring the inimitable Lana Turner, and you've got yourself a perfectly "faux" evening.

The 'Faux de Vie'

1 jigger Absolut vodka

A couple drops of the liqueur of your choice

Get a small glass and carefully pour just a few drops of Chambord, Cointreau, or any fruit liqueur into it. Add vodka. Sip. Don't overwhelm the vodka with liqueur; the drink should have just a hint of fruit to it.

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