Cock­tails with Ju­lia

While the late, great Ju­lia Child was cook­ing in the kitchen, her hus­band, Paul Child, put his mind to cre­at­ing cock­tails be­hind the bar.


JU­LIA CHILD’S CULI­NARY WORKS are cel­e­brated around the world, but as a small col­lec­tion of 3-by-5 in­dex cards dis­cov­ered in her ar­chives re­veals, she wasn’t the only one in the fam­ily jot­ting down recipes. Un­til they were un­earthed, Paul Child’s cock­tail recipes had been for­got­ten. In them, Paul care­fully notes his cock­tails’ names, in­gre­di­ents, and prepa­ra­tion tips, of­ten with the date and place of the recipe’s cre­ation, such as “Gar­net, Paris, 1950.”

In that way, these drinks of­fer glimpses into the Childs’ lives. When Paul came up with that cock­tail in 1950, he and Ju­lia were liv­ing in Paris. Ju­lia was study­ing at Le Cordon Bleu, the launch­ing pad for her first book, Mas­ter­ing the Art of French Cook­ing, Vol­ume 1. And be­fore din­ner, they of­ten en­ter­tained friends with gin, dark rum, rye whiskey, and ver­mouth-based cock­tails, a cus­tom they con­tin­ued when they re­turned to the U.S.

Chef and cook­book au­thor Jacques Pépin was a fre­quent guest. “I re­mem­ber Paul mak­ing a cock­tail with fresh orange juice that he called ‘A la Recherche de l’Orange Per­due,’ a witty take on Proust’s Re­mem­brance of Things Past,” he re­calls.

Bar­bara Haber, formerly of Har­vard’s Rad­cliffe In­sti­tute, where Ju­lia’s pa­pers now re­side, re­mem­bers get-to­geth­ers with the Childs in the ’60s: “Paul was a very ac­com­plished pho­tog­ra­pher. He’d been in the Of­fice of Strate­gic Ser­vices, a pre­cur­sor to the CIA, dur­ing World War II. He was a sto­ry­teller, quick to laugh, a racon­teur, and a man of great wit.”

Mix­ing up one of these for­got­ten drinks isn’t quite the same as sit­ting down with Ju­lia and Paul for din­ner. But it’s a way to raise a toast to one of the le­gends of Amer­i­can cook­ing—and to of­fer a nod of thanks to her cock­tail-tal­ented hus­band.

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