Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ whispered gently as you entered the event space downstairs at The Gage on Michigan Ave.
Veronica Hinkle’s celebration for her book, The Last Night on The Titanic: Unsinkable Drinking, Dining & Style was the most incredible program.
Revisiting Chicago connections of the fateful trip, as well as signature cocktails and recipes from the era were a few highlights of the evening. Panelists included the Cocktail Guru, Jeffrey Pogash, he was our tuxedo-clad bartender for the evening. Jeffrey spent eighteen years as the Director of Communications at Möet Hennessy. Chicago area chefs for the panel discussion surrounded Jeffrey.
The Marguerite was apparently the precursor to the modern-day Dry Martini. Vodka is what you would receive ordering one now, but gin is how it was initially prepared. There were over 20,000 bottles of beer, 8000 cigars, 1500 bottles of wine and 850 liquor bottles on The Titanic.
Iced Draught Munich Lager was served to first class passengers aboard the ship. That beer was made by pair of Germans that immigrated to England in 1882 and founded the Wrexham Lager Beer Company. Ivan Levenstein + Otto Isler produced and sold beer that reminded them of Wrexham, the largest town in Wales.
Veronica’s book was extrapolated from her 300-word article in Wine Enthusiast commemorating a century since the events of the RMS Titanic. Her stories weave seamlessly between highlighting the passengers on the boat and sprinkling a culinary narrative with recipes throughout the book.
The Blood Mary served at the event was a tribute to John Jacob Astor IV, the ship’s wealthiest passenger when it sank. A real estate investor, John built the St Regis Hotel New York where the Bloody Mary was created in the King Cole Bar. Vincent Astor, John Jacob’s son, perfected the cocktail. He is credited for changing it from its original name to The Red Snapper. At the time, it was viewed as vulgar and pedestrian for the St Regis, a five-star hotel in Manhattan to serve a drink called Bloody Mary to its clientele.
The Spencers – relatives of Princess Diana’s family and the family of Sir Winston Churchill were first class survivors of the voyage.
Chicago ties include the Hippachs, a large family in Evanston. Back in1903, Ida S. Hippach lost two of her sons in the Iroquois Theater Fire watching a performance of Mr. Bluebeard. Ida survived theTitanic with her daughter Jean.
The Last Night on The Titanic gives you a sense of who these passengers were. The book is a whimsical ride that blends facts, stories and recipes that both celebrate and inform you of these moments in history. The panel discussion was a reminder that over a century later the RMS Titanic still remains one of the most fascinating subjects of our lifetime.
-Francis Davis Millet, an assistant to President William Howard Taft and Decorations Director for Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 died on the Titanic.
-Maraschino cherry juice and orange bitters, Italian vermouth were ingredients in the first martini before it fell out of fashion. In 1912 a juniper and citrus forward gin likely handmade a New Zealand 19th century gin pot still was the protocol
-Roman Punch was a palate cleanser served at every grand dinner in the 19th century served a roman punch toward the end of dinner, before fruit, cheese and dessert.
-Astra Burka made an appearance at the book event. She read a letter dated April 10, 1912 from her grandfather, Adolphe Saafeld, a Titanic survivor. Back in 2000 during salvage expedition on the ship a lather satchel of perfume was found on the ocean floor belonging to her great uncle. He was headed to NY to sell samples to upper middle class ladies in Manhattan.