Panache appears often in The Great Pretenders, not simply as an effervescent gift given to a fortunate few people, but as a cologne the characters actually wear. In fact, an early working title for the novel was “A Touch of Panache.” This fictitious cologne has a history.
In 1931 Empire Pictures made the first talkie of Cyrano de Bergerac, the 1896 play in which Cyrano’s panache plays an important role. The head of Empire Pictures, Leon Greene, asked a parfumier to concoct Panache, a signature, commemorative scent for his wife, Julia. She alone could wear Panache, until the day she gave a bottle to her teenage granddaughter, Roxanne. (Roxanne could wear the fragrance, but found it far more difficult to live up to Julia’s maxim that “Glamour is nothing more than knowing how to talk fast, laugh fluidly, gesture economically and leave behind a shimmering wake.”) As I was creating Panache for the page, I imagined my three favorite scents. “…the top notes are citrusy, the lower notes an earthy bergamot with a hint of vanilla.”
“Glamour is nothing more than knowing how to talk fast, laugh fluidly, gesture economically and leave behind a shimmering wake.”
Then, one of the novel’s early readers suggested that Panache could also be an intriguing cocktail. What a good idea!
Eight of us gathered on a winter’s night. We had candlelight, enticing apperitivos, an array of glasses and a fabulous display of gleaming liquor and liqueur bottles (some exotic, some well known) that seemed to glow with possibility. Our mixologist, Bacchus Taylor, was both expert and adventurous. (How could he not be with such a name?) We, the testers, were prepared to test and talk all evening till we found the perfect Panache. In truth, Bacchus, who had been thinking on this for days, took the three signature scents, swirled them with champagne and Campari, and voila! The Panache! Though an icy winter wind whipped round the house, the Panache made us all feel summery,
Sipping, each of the flavors presents itself in turn, beginning with the whiff of fresh lemon, finishing with the whisper of bergamot. The slightly bitter Campari is softened by the champagne, Visually, the Panache is lovely to look at. The Campari creates a rosy glow at the bottom of the flute, and the whole floats in sparkling champagne, reminiscent to me of the “shimmering wake” that Julia Greene thought essential to being glamorous.
We took the Panache idea to Alli Sutherland, general manager of Galloway’s Cocktail Bar in Old Fairhaven, and she reproduced it beautifully. So next week, on April 16th from 4 to 6, that’s where The Great Pretenders will launch, and celebrate publication day.
You can celebrate too even if you can’t be at Galloway’s. Collect your friends, or your book club, create your own Panache Cocktail, revel in a bit of old Hollywood glamour. For added ambience, here are playlists redolent with jazzy glamour and cool panache.
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla simple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon Campari
- 1 Flute Champagne
- 1 Drop bergamot essential oil
- 1 Twist of lemon
To prepare Vanilla Simple Syrup
Add one cup water, one cup sugar, and ½ vanilla bean scraped with the husk and bring to a boil. Stir and let cool. Keeps for one month in refrigerator.
To prepare the Panache Cocktail
Pour the Vanilla Simple Syrup into the flute. Fill to one inch of the top with Champagne. Slowly pour the Campari into a spoon held right above the Champagne and gently tilt into the drink. Add the essential oil of bergamot and twist of lemon. Enjoy!
For the perfect twist of lemon
Cut your lemon in half. Cut a slice from the half. With your fingers, pull off the fruit from the peel. Taking the long loop of peel, twist it over the glass (so the oils drip into the glass). Roll it a couple of times in your fingers, and slide it into the glass. It will rest there like a fragrant plume.
Bergamot essential oil is available in specialty stores or online.