Party Like: The Great Gatsby

This Friday is the American release of the movie The Great Gatsby. Grab your highballs, clutch your pearls and cut your hair into a bob! Cause nobody parties like Gatsby! Directed by Baz Lurhmann, notable for his films Moulin Rouge & Romeo + Juliet (two of my faves!). It stars Leo Dicaprio, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan and is the tragic story of Jay Gatsby, a newly rich man who desperately wants to regain what he lost in the past. If you haven’t seen the trailer, take a look at the amazing visuals and dynamic cast.

 So how can you party like Gatsby? You can’t. Because you are poor. But you can have a Gatsby themed party! Okay so the 1920’s was about decadence it was about too much, it was about gin and champagne and pearls and suits and too much and too much and more much. It was a great time! Start with some great jazz music, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, or maybe you could play The Great Gatsby soundtrack straight from soundcloud.

Dressing up is half the fun so go all out. Now we have all been to those cheesy 20’s parties where somehow people have the reduced the 20’s to gangsters and flappers but the fashion was so much more than that. For example Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Marion Davies, google em!

Pastels, silks, golds, gemstones, long-loose-languid gowns that dripped to the floor and finger waves glued to the scalp. Heavy lids painted nearly black or long eyelashes to look as lost and helpless as your favorite ingenue in the moving pictures.

 For men it was all about the pinstripe suit and even if you can’t pull that off, a nice black or grey double breasted suit with white stiff collar and lightly patterned tie, (bonus points for the matching vest) hair slicked back and shoes shiny and pointed.

Okay onto the most important part of your party, the booze! During this era was the prohibition movement, that made the selling of liquor illegal, which made the consumption of liquor sky rocket! People, particularly the rich, would drown themselves in black market acquired booze and drink like they didn’t know when they could drink again! The cocktail was made during this time to mask the horrible taste of bootleg, bathtub liquor and to make it look like you were just having a nice, legal, drinky-poo.
Here are a few recipes popular in the 1920’s.

The Bronx Recipe 
  • 2 oz gin 
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth 
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth 
  • 1 oz fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces Cognac 
  • 1 ounce Cointreau 
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. If you’re feeling fancy, you can rim the glass with sugar or garnish with a lemon twist.
The Bee’s Knees 
  • 2 parts Gin 
  • 1 part honey syrup 
  • 1 part lemon juice 
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well (10 – 20 seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon spiral
  • 2 1/2 oz gin 
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth 
  • 1 green olive or lemon twist for garnish 
  • Orange or Angostura bitters (optional) 
Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes. Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a dash of orange or Angostura bitters if desired Garnish with the olive or lemon twist.

If you’re looking for games to play, set up croquet on the lawn, or have a Charleston dance off, have a photobooth set up and take some black and white photos, or play bingo!
 Here is a video by Robert Kolodny from the House of Nod from the Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party held in Governor’s Island in NY. Hopefully this will inspire you, the voice over is even from The Great Gatsby!