Za-Za – David Embury

The most common version of this drink is equal parts of gin and Dubonnet, decorated with a twist of lemon peel. 

A second version substitutes sloe gin for the dry gin. 

A third version substitutes dry sherry for the gin. 

Still another version consists of a Sweet Martini with a dash of creme de menthe. 

I decided to go for the first version of this drink. I think the sloe gin would be too sweet with today’s versions, although it could work with four pillars bloody shiraz gin nicely. The sherry version sounds interesting, and a much lighter option. Crème de menthe is a turn off for me, although I imagine this with a dash of absinthe to achieve a similar taste could work nicely.

Za-Za was a very popular French play about a prostitute who became a singer and fell in love with a married man, it was popular enough to be turned into a opera, and then into films in 1915, 1923 and later in 1939. Due to the subject matter it was quite contentious in the US, and a later ending saw Za-Za cast adrift by her beau to try and appeal more to the moralistic public.

The Za-Za starts cropping up in cocktail books around the start of the twentieth century and keeps going for at least 60 years, when in 1960 the drink was used in an advertising campaign by Dubonnet. While doing some research for the Queen cocktail (07-03-2018) I came across information on what the Queen drinks, which at 11am is allegedly a Za-Za cocktail over ice with a twist of lemon, I can’t help but wonder if she picked this up from the campaign in the 60’s.

The drink is a great one, I could quite happily sip one of these before lunch daily. I’m beginning to really like the dryness that the quinine in Dubonnet brings to drinks. If Za-Za had similar drinking habits to the queen I can’t help but think she wouldn’t be looking quite so glum.