Sunday, July 21, 2013

Looking Backwards Towards the Future

The Hispano-Suiza was one of the most stylish automobiles of the golden age of automotive design. One of the original automobile manufacturers (from 1898-1904), the company spearheaded engineering innovation, and branched out quickly into aeronautics with prop-engine manufacturing, begun in Barcelona, branching out in France (and even Argentina). The Hispano-Suiza, for instance, was the first to unite the engine block with the crankcase, permitting the development of the modern single cast engine block.    

In the 1920's and 1930's, the big Hispanos were famous not only for their power, but for their elegant and streamlined construction. The futuristic example below was a concept car intended primarily as an attention-getter for the marquee, something it accomplished for posterity, after being set aside during the war years following the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Imagine what it might have been like to drive one of these rockets down the boulevard in 1933! It's so sleek it could pass for a contemporary design in 2013.   

1933 Hispano-Suiza Xenia Coupe

In the spirt of such elegance, I dedicate the following cocktail recipe to the memory of the classic Hispano-Suiza, a vestige of the dream of speed and grace of the industrial revolution in its salad days. The flavor has all the dignified, sensual, sophisticated seductiveness of the fashionable Twenties. In 1933, designers were probably thinking more nostalgically of the pre-crash prosperity than towards any utopian future.

The automobile was once the harbinger of human ingenuity, and an expression of our romance with the wheel, and of the convenience and excitement of movement, the very spirit of freedom. It could still be today, if we weren't so preoccupied with the depletion of the resources needed to feed the rapacity of an ever-mushrooming population of consumers. The Hispano-Suiza is a symbol of a time when the world was young, before it became cynically suspicious of fun and luxury. 

This one may be better swirled than shaken, given its rich ingredients, but it still wants to be very cold. As usual, the ingredients are by proportion (this makes two drinks). This one may look a bit uncomfortably like crankcase oil, but sometimes you have to take your medicine like a man. People who like drinks that "look nice" probably don't have much discrimination. A lot of things men and women do--especially with each other--aren't particularly "nice" but are still quite a lot of fun. This is certainly one of them.    

3/4 parts Famous Grouse scotch
2 parts French calvados brandy
1 part Parfait d'Amour
1 part Patron Cafe Dark
1 part fresh lemon juice

1 comment:

Kirby Olson said...

There is a Russian car that they had in Finland called the Lada. They were very popular there, and cheap. They went through blizzards and you could fix them for next to nothing. I wish I had one. They never sold them in the states.