When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatsby” he not only wrote a great American novel but he also created the perfect blueprint for throwing elaborate parties. The parties described in the book take us to another time, when gin was served in speakeasies, champagne flowed from fountains, women wore extravagant dresses all the time, and only actresses wore lipstick.
On the eve of the new “Great Gatsby” movie being released in theaters this May, dress up in your best flapper dress, pour a martini and relive the opulence of the illustrious Jay Gatsby.
This is a simple enough party to decorate for; if it sparkles or shines, then it belongs on the table. Fill the table with candles, gold plates and fresh-cut roses — and don’t skimp on anything.
Creating a menu for a Gatsby-themed party had me thumbing through recipe archives of the best New York restaurants. Some, like the 21 Club, have been in business since the ’20s and have extensive archives of their menus and cocktails (which were served in the members-only speakeasy section of the otherwise-legitimate restaurant). Some of my very favorite dishes originated during this era, like oysters Rockefeller, lobster Newberg and my dad’s favorite, pineapple upside-down cake.
A “Great Gatsby”-themed evening is a fun new way to celebrate with friends. And my regards to Mr. Fitzgerald for creating the ultimate backyard party.
Perfect Vodka Martini
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce dry vermouth
Combine vodka and vermouth in a shaker with ice. Stir for 30 seconds, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a cocktail onion and edible gold stars for an elegant twist on a classic.
Pink Lemonade Mint Julep
- 16 ounces pink lemonade
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
- Aged rum
- Crushed ice
Press mint leaves into pink lemonade and let sit overnight or longer. Strain the mint leaves out of the lemonade. Mix two ounces mint lemonade with two ounces rum in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- 3 ounces butter
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 5 pineapple rings
- 5 maraschino cherries
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chopped pineapple
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of an 8-inch by 8-inch pan and line with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer whip together butter and brown sugar until light in color and fluffy. Using an offset spatula, evenly cover the bottom of the prepared pan with the brown sugar mixture. Place drained and dried pineapple rings on top of the brown sugar mixture and place one cherry in the center of each ring.
Clean out the mixing bowl and whip together eggs and sugar until light and airy. Add vanilla. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients and add them to the egg mixture. Mix in flour with as few strokes as possible. Add pineapple and combine.
Pour batter over pineapple rings and smooth out with an offset spatula. Bake 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let rest five minutes before inverting. When slightly cooled, place a platter on the top of the pan and flip over so cake lands on the plate.
Tiny Lobster Newberg
- One pound lobster in the shell
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups cream
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup chopped leek
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 4 puff pastry shells (baked as directed)
- Chives for garnish
Remove lobster from shells and refrigerate. Place shells in a small stockpot with cream and 4 tablespoons butter. Simmer one hour, whisking regularly, and then strain out shells. Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl and slowly add one cup of the cream sauce — drizzle cream sauce as you whisk (otherwise you’ll scramble the eggs). Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the cream and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté lobster until warm, about 2-3 minutes. Add brandy and cook until alcohol has burned off, about another 2 minutes. Gently whisk in cream sauce and cook until slightly thickened.
Remove the lobster pieces and divide equally among cooked puff pastry shells. Pour ½ cup sauce over each puff pastry shell. Garnish with a few sprigs of chives. Serve immediately. Serves four.
Alexandra Hedin shares her love of food, design and good living in every issue of 425 magazine. You can get her book, “Entertaining at Home,” at alexandrahedin.com, as well as more recipes, crafts and inspiration.