Friday, 12 August 2011

Death in Venice - the cocktail

Tony Micelotta (Excelsior) and Robin Saikia
Masters at work: Tony Micelotta (left), the internationally renowned bar manager at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, Venice Lido, puts the finishing touches to a new cocktail invented by Robin Saikia (right). "Death in Venice", a strawberry-themed vodka martini, will be available on the bar menu at the Excelsior next season. The strawberries allude to Von Aschenbach's fatal snack in Venice. The drink is made with Ciroc vodka, calling to mind the sirocco, the desert wind that ravages the Mediterranean in the height of summer.

Von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) and the fatal fruit.
Robin Saikia "Several bartenders over the years have attempted a Death in Venice cocktail but they always seem to miss out the essential ingredient, strawberries. Strawberries were Von Aschenbach's downfall in Thomas Mann's novella. The choice of Cîroc has a literary allusion too - but in terms of pure taste, which what a drink is ultimately all about, the slightly grappa-ish tang of Cîroc vodka complements the aquavit-based strawberry liqueur.  Here is my own recipe for Death in Venice, including instructions for making your own strawberry aquavit. If that seems daunting, there are several good strawberry liqueurs on the market."

1. Take a 250ml / 8.8 oz Martini glass, intensely chilled in the freezer for at least half a day.

2. Pour in equal splashes of homemade strawberry liqueur and dry vermouth. Swirl the glass until the interior is thoroughly and uniformly coated then discard the mixture.

3. Fill to the brim with Cîroc vodka which you've also stored in the freezer. The slightly grappa-ish taste of Cîroc complements the aquavit-based strawberry liqueur.

4. Serve

Here is the recipe for the strawberry liqueur.


2 and a quarter pounds of strawberries trimmed and halved
1 lemon
1 750 millilitre botlle of 40% proof aquavit.


clean 750ml bottle with reliable cork or cap

Put strawberries in a bowl; zest and juice lemon over the top and stir to combine. Cover and let stand at cool room temperature or chilled, stirring occasionally, for 24 hours. Pour aquavit over mixture; cover and let macerate at cool room temperature or chilled for 24 hours. Reserve bottle and cap (you will need 2 bottles). Strain mixture into a bowl through sieve, pressing to extract liquid. Wrap strawberry pulp in cheesecloth and squeeze over bowl to extract as much liquid as possible; discard remaining pulp. Let mixture settle for a few minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (preferably with a pouring spout). Pour liqueur into bottles, seal and chill until ready to serve. Note: Strawberry Liqueur keeps, chilled, for up to one year. The flavour becomes smoother over time.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Death in Venice

A delightfully festive record sleeve, the soundtrack of Death in Venice showing Dirk and Bjorn in a cheerful, summery mood. It has great charm, but of the wrong sort, rather like one of those London Transport of the Fifties.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Spelling it out

If this had been covered by Pathe News, the announcer would probably have said: "These Lido Lovelies may not know joined up writing, but they've treated us to a truly capital celebration of their summer holiday!"

Afternoon tea on the Lido

The Duke of Windsor on the Venice Lido

Goebbels on the Venice Lido

The Nazi propaganda chief was a regular visitor to the newly founded Venice Film Festival in the Thirties..