When the first Sex and the City movie came out in 2008, it reconnected the television show's fans (and some of those fans' obliging, if unwilling, partners) with the fictional characters whose relationships defined contemporary female friendship and whose lives set a media standard for edge and exuberance, beauty and style.
The settings were part of the romance: New York City, Hollywood and Mexico. Now with this week's release of Sex and the City 2, we add Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. But it was the settings within the settings — famous mansions and resorts, the women's own apartments and exclusive nightspots — where the girls bonded, often over a cocktail.
The HBO series made the Cosmopolitan cocktail an icon, but any obsessive viewer could observe that plenty of champagne was consumed over the years. More than any other beverage, bubbly is equated with celebration. It is the cocktail's sexiest partner, complementing and exalting everything from bitters to brandy.
In one of the slew of promotions associated with Sex and the City 2, the beverage giant Moët and Chandon — the movie's "official champagne partner," in marketing parlance — has invented four new cocktails. Each is inspired by one of the four women.
There is the Fashionista, which could only be Carrie. Miranda's cocktail is the Player, Charlotte's is the Socialite, and the Bombshell is, naturally, Samantha's.
I couldn't help but wonder: Were these drinks glamorous enough to catch on?
To find out, I channeled my SATC newspaper columnist counterpart, Carrie Bradshaw, to assess the scene, and in this case, the cocktails. And naturally, I had to invite a few friends along.
Getting my posse together was easy. I am lucky, like Carrie, to know witty people who are always up for a good time.
It wasn't really hard to determine the venue, either. Everyone knows that downtown Lexington's hottest new dining destination is the magnificently remodeled Dudley's on Short.
What everyone might not know is that restaurateur Debbie Long employs one of Lexington's most seasoned bartenders, Ricky Arnett.
So we all met up on a sunny Friday at happy hour in Dudley's bar to preview champagne's next potential classics, mixed by a master, in a happening local restaurant.
Ricky was ready to go at 5. He had squeezed lime juice for The Player, brought out The Bombshell's maraschino cherries and The Socialite's elderflower liqueur, and prepared a bowl of rose petals for The Fashionista's garnish. The Moët Imperial champagne, a heavenly experience before even a splash or slice of anything was added to it, was being chilled, as were the champagne flutes.
By 6, our group had gathered at a table for eight. The drinks, two rose-colored and two pale gold, were lined up along the bar to catch the sunlight streaming through the windows. Even 3 feet away, we could see the bubbles effervescing like fireworks out of the top of The Bombshell (that Samantha, always trying to be the center of attention).
Everything was perfect.
Ricky, our bartender, mixed two fresh rounds of the cocktails for our tasting — partly for the photo shoot and partly because the drinks looked so attractive that two women at the other end of the bar decided that they would order them. Like us, they fell in love.
Interestingly, however, the judgments of those two women mirrored our own: Some like it sweet, and some like it tart.
The Socialite is, no surprises here, the sweetest drink of all, just like demure Charlotte. Made with the currently hip St. Germain elderflower liqueur, it is slightly syrupy, like nectar, and subtly tropical, like lychees. With sugar at the bottom, it is Charlotte's alter ego in a glass.
At the other extreme, The Player reflects Miranda's acerbic wit. It is tart with lime juice, and a little hot from its ginger liqueur. This cocktail could be considered the ultimate upscale riff on a Tom Collins, or a grown-up lime rickey.
In a class by itself, there is the provocatively sweet yet tangy Bombshell. Its color, like dark-pink rouge, suggests Samantha's attention-getting clothes and personality. The garnish — a single cherry, stem and all — is both come-hither and slightly forbidden, since the maraschino's fall from grace after a controversy about the dye that gives it its color. What better metaphor for Samantha?
And finally, our heroine, The Fashionista. This drink is the simplest of all, made only with champagne and pomegranate juice, something that, unlike The Bombshell, is good for you. With its translucent rosy hue, it also is the most understated. The presentation, with a single rose petal floating on the surface, is utterly elegant. The flavor bridges sweet and tart and is thoroughly approachable — just like Carrie.
Wendy Miller is a Lexington-based food and spirits writer and critic.