This week’s cocktail is one of my favorites, mostly because it reminds me of my time in England which is incidentally the setting of our first book. PIMM’S, named after its founder James Pimm, first made its debut in the years between 1823 and 1840*. In fact, the characters of our first book may have very well enjoyed a glass or two. PIMM’S is a gin infused with fruits and spices. It is commonly mixed with lemonade and fruit slices to create a perfect summery drink. Think of it as the sangria of England.
- Highball glass
- 50ml PIMM’S No.1
- 150ml of Lemonade
- Mint orange, strawberries
- Cucumber to garnish and ice
Mix all the ingredients together, give it a good shake or stir, whichever you prefer and serve!
Is PIMM’S available in the US? Yes, but not everywhere. Large liquor stores will carry it. However, like anything these days it can be ordered online and delivered to your home!*
Before I introduce today’s book I’d like to clarify something. Some readers asked if they are required to read a book every week. Of course not. My only wish is to allow my readers to escape to world beyond this one regardless of what they are reading or drinking at the time. This blog is meant to entertain and inspire a fun conversation around books and the magical worlds they create for us.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is not actually a book, but a play. I first read this play my senior year of high school and it is easily one of my most treasured pieces of literature. The play is set between London and the Hertfordshire countryside in the late 1800s. In fact, the play premiered on the London stage in 1895. So throw on your corsets and coattails, we’re heading to the Victorian age.
We begin in London, the flat of Algernon Moncrieff. For the sake of my sanity, we’re going to call this chap Al. In the play his nickname is Algy… which makes me think of a blue-ish green slime added to smoothies… So Al it is. As any other moderately wealthy English bloke, Al is sitting at the piano in his artistically decorated flat awaiting the arrival of his friend Ernest, his aunt Lady Bracknell, and his lovely cousin Gwendolen; who we will be referring to as Gwen. Al’s man servant Lane announces the arrival of a Mr. Ernest Worthing and here begins the confusion. Al’s dear friend Ernest is not being honest about his identity, Ernest is actually a man named John Worthing, Jack for short. I’m not sure how John turns into Jack, but I’m not going to question it. So through a conversation about Ernest’s ward Cecily, Al gets Ernest to fess up to being Jack in the countryside and Ernest in the city. Problem solved? No. That would be too easy. Al also has a secret! He too is one person in the city and someone else in the countryside. As Jack created his younger brother Ernest in the city; Al has created a sick relative that lives outside of London so that he may escape whatever perils he needs to at any given moment. This relative is none other than a Mr. Bunbury. Again, not going to question the absurdity of the name, we’ll just let Mr. Wilde do his thing.
These two Bunburyists as they are called then greet Lady Braknell and her daughter Gwen. Enter the romance! As it turns out, Ernest/Jack is mad for Gwen and Gwen is just smitten for Ernest. But of course, Lady Bracknell won’t have it. Ernest proposes to Gwen. Hooray! But before he does that he gives Gwen a hypothetical. What if he wasn’t Ernest? What if he was Jack? Of course, to Gwen that would be disgraceful. Like every other illogical girl, she’s always dreamed of marrying a man named Ernest. So Jack stays Ernest and wins the hand of his love despite the disapproval of Al and the excessive questionings of Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell inquires as to where Ernest is from. His answer? As baby he was dropped off at a train station in handbag. His parentage is unknown. An important fact to hang on to.
Al’s curiosity gets the better of him and he decides to visit the countryside to see Cecily, Jack’s ward. Off he goes to “visit Mr. Bunbury” though he shows up to the house as Ernest Worthing, Jack’s younger brother. So now both men are Ernest. What could possibly go wrong?
Al is greeted by Cecily and her strict and stubborn governess Miss Prism. Cecily is delighted to finally meet Uncle Jack’s wicked younger brother Ernest. The two immediately fall for each other and it is revealed to Ernest/Algernon that he has fact been engaged to Cecily for sometime now. In the spirit of delusion, Cecily shows Ernest the lovely letters that he has ‘written to her’ through the time they have been engaged. She even bought an engagement ring in his name, because why the hell not? In fact, I think I’ll go out tomorrow and buy a nice diamond ring in the name Channing Tatum and lovingly wear it on my left hand. That sounds like a productive use of my time. So in a raging panic, Al seeks out Reverend Chasuble to be rechristened as Ernest.
Cecily and Ernest are engaged. But who shows up to the party? Jack, of course. He has come to announce that his dear brother Ernest has died in Paris and he is looking to rechristen himself as Ernest so he may honestly marry Gwen. His servants so kindly correct him, and tell him the grand news that Ernest is in his very house. Jack is confused, and then angry when he finds out just who this Ernest is. As Jack is Cecily’s guardian, he refuses to give his blessing to the couple. Meanwhile, in a different part of this large house, Gwendolen shows up to visit her dear fiance. She is greeted by Cecily who is blissfully admiring her engagement ring. Take a big swig of your drink because it all goes downhill from here folks.
Cecily and Gwen become fast friends and divulge their recent engagements to Ernest Worthing. And just like all female friendships, fast friends become even faster enemies. How could these two women possibly be engaged to the same man? Enter our two idiots. Al and Jack are caught and forced to tell the truth. And just like that, enemies join and form a united front against a larger enemy. Cecily and Gwen again become friends in their horrid hardships of not being engaged to men named Ernest. Honestly, I don’t know how they survived.
Ernest and Ernest retreat to the garden to discuss their predicament over a feast of muffins while Gwen and Cecily just spy them basically. Since Gwen has fled to countryside, it is only expected that her overbearing mother, Lady Bracknell come rushing to find her. Lady Bracknell arrives surprised to learn that her nephew Algernon is engaged to Cecily whom she approves of! Though she still disapproves of Jack, for he doesn’t even know where he came from. Jack refuses to accept Algernon unless Lady Bracknell gives her blessing to Jack and Gwen. So we’re stuck, but not for long.
Miss Prism returns from wherever she was and who recognizes her? Lady Bracknell. Some 28 years ago, Miss Prism was a nursemaid for Lady Bracknell’s sister, Al’s mom. She mysteriously left a child in a handbag at Victoria Station in London. Jack rushes to a different part the house and comes back with the same handbag! It can only be concluded that he is the elder brother of Algernon thus giving him a suitable background to marry his cousin. Gross.
But now Gwen, in her shallow petty ways, insists that she cannot love a man who is not named Ernest. Lady Bracknell pipes up and points that Jack would have been named after his father General Moncrieff, or as his loved ones knew him as, Ernest.
So all’s well that ends well in this much to do about nothing play. Though this is where it ends, I expect the couples are promptly married and live in blissful ignorance of anything remotely realistic.