Gerald and Sara Murphy partied with Picasso in 1920s Paris and inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, but their story was shrouded in mystery until writer Calvin Tompkins, by chance, became their neighbor. Tomkins talked to The Paris Review about his friendship with the Murphys and MoMA’s new reprint of his book about their lives. 

She was not a legitimate beauty– thank God. Her beauty was not legitimate at all. It was all in her eyes. They were strange eyes, brooding but not sad, severe, almost masculine in their directness. She possessed an astounding gaze, one doesn’t find it often in women..perfectly level and head-on.
—  Gerald Murphy about Zelda Fitzgerald


Gin - 1 ½ oz

Grapefruit Juice - ½ oz

Lime Juice - ½ oz

Simple Syrup - 1 tsp

Mint Leaves - 6

Shake everything with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or wineglass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

It’s a name you would associate with the liqueur Baileys, but it has nothing to do with it. The drink was invented by Gerald Murphy, he and Sara Murphy were a pair of well-known American expatriates who moved on the French Riviera in the 1920s. The two were known for their parties and large social circle, some of the famous names include Pablo Picasso, Dorothy Parker and the Hemingways.

This could well be the drink that introduced Ernest Hemingway to the idea of combining grapefruit juice and lime juice, as it clearly resembles the Hemingway Special or Papa Doble. As a Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Felten once wrote, “just a teaspoon of sugar or simple syrup makes the drink sing.” And he’s absolutely right about that, just as I love my Hemingway Special made with only a teaspoon of maraschino, this drink profits from it’s large amount of tart ingredients to only a touch of sweetness, making it that extra refreshing.

Below is the original method as stated by Gerald Murphy:

“The mint should be put in the shaker first. It should be torn up by hand as it steeps better. The gin should be added then and allowed to stand a minute or two. Then add the grapefruit juice and then the lime juice. Stir vigorously with ice and do not allow to dilute too much, but serve very cold, with a sprig of mint in each glass.”

I fully agree with his “steeping mint in gin” part, but I always prefer shaking my drink containing juices, just as long as you double strain out the broken pieces of mint at the end.

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We must live it, now, a day at a time and be very careful not to hurt each other. It seems as though we were all on a boat now together, a good boat still, that we have made but that we know now will never reach port. There will be all kinds of weather, good and bad, and especially because we know now that there will be no landfall we must keep the boat up very well and be very good to each other.
—  Ernest Hemingway, from “a letter to GERALD AND SARA MURPHY, Key West, 19 March 1935,” Selected Letters 1917-1961 (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981)
The roaring (drunk) 20s: literature's biggest party animals
As the holiday party season gets into full swing, we should acknowledge the great partiers of days gone by: specifically, the modernists
By Joanna Scutts

Literature’s most notorious partiers, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, married on 3 April 1920 at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and embarked on a months-long bender to celebrate. They were kicked out of two luxury hotels for their revelries, and the papers reported on them breathlessly. Zelda herself recalled the era as though in a haze: “Under the sombre ironic parrots of the Biltmore a halo of golden bobs disintegrated into black lace and shoulder bouquets … It was just a lot of youngness.”

The famous party scenes in Fitzgerald’s novels were often based on real events, transformed by a similar kind of nostalgic, liquid haze. The dinner party in Scott’s 1936 novel Tender is the Night is based on a party at the Villa America on the French Riviera, home of expat hosts Gerald and Sara Murphy, models for the novel’s central couple.

According to a 1962 New Yorker profile of Murphy, Fitzgerald’s bad behavior was more provocative and childish than glamorous and louche. “He started things off inauspiciously by walking up to one of the guests, a young writer, and asking him in a loud, jocular tone whether he was a homosexual. The man quietly said ‘Yes’, and Fitzgerald retreated in temporary embarrassment.”

After more antics, including throwing a fig at a princess and punching the writer Archibald MacLeish, Fitzgerald “began throwing Sara’s gold-flecked Venetian wineglasses over the garden wall. He had smashed three of them this way before Gerald stopped him.” He was banned from the house for three weeks – but forgiven soon enough.