Drink of the Week: A Postcard from the Edge (2017 TCM Fest Salute #2)

A Postcard from the Edge.Last year, as we all know, wasn’t so great, and I’m not sure that any of us know what to make of this one. But in a year full of public tragedy and disaster, the saddest purely show business moment of 1996 for many of us was the back-to-back passings of Carrie Fisher and her legendary mother Debbie Reynolds. So it made a lot of sense that TCM Fest 2017 featured a number of Reynolds’ films and one written by Fisher.

1990s “Postcards from the Edge” is an apparently loose adaptation of Carrie Fisher’s own 1987 novel and is a fairly direct semi-fictionalization of her own struggles with multi-substance addiction, debatable romantic choices, and life itself. Directed by Mike Nichols, it’s a solid piece of inside-Hollywood comedy on the precipice of tragedy in which a working actress (Meryl Streep) tries to check out of rehab and back into some kind of emotional stability. Standing in the way is whatever it was that was making her drug herself to oblivion in the first place and her own loving but overly complex relationship with her formidable Hollywood legend of a mom (Shirley MacLaine).

The movie does a solid job of bringing the sun-dappled, stress-filled world of workaday Hollywood to life, even if it only hints at the mental health demons that Carrie Fisher would later discuss in admirably frank detail. It’s also not afraid to make drinking look pretty fun. After all, no one would develop a problem with the stuff if it wasn’t so damned attractive.

Which brings us to this week’s drink which, I promise, is completely legal in all 50 states. It is, however, an edgy homage to one of the more popular (and more drinkable) beverages of the 1970s and 80s in which the late Ms. Fisher would have done most of her wishful drinking. It’s a Tequila Sunrise that dares to bring us to the edge of a (fairly safe) precipice. I thought it would be interesting to add the gut-punch digestif Fernet Branca and the anise/bitter propulsive, absinthe, the only booze I know of which was banned for roughly 95 years.

A Postcard from the Edge

1 1/2 ounces white/silver tequila
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 ounce Fernet Branca
1 teaspoon absinthe
1 teaspoon grenadine
1 cocktail cherry (advisable garnish)

Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake as if you’re not sure where you’re going to wake up the next morning or who you might be looking at when you do. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, add the cherry, and contemplate the cold reality that booze (and other chemicals) can take the edge off in a very special way, but it can’t really cure what ails you.

****

The only booze that I had more than one brand of for A Postcard from the Edge was tequila…and boy, do I have a lot of tequila here courtesy of the my friends in the booze biz. (I only wish amaros, brandies, and expensive liqueurs were marketed so aggressively.) I think I had the best luck with Case Noble Tequila Blanco, which had the smoothest flavor but enough agave punch to stand up against the other ingredients. However, those who want an ever stronger tequila kick might prefer Sauza 100% Blue Agave. On the other hand, Hornitos Plata was just dandy.

Overall, I liked this particular creation quite a bit. The bitter and herbal flavors of the Fernet play nicely on my tastebuds with the tequila and the sweetness of the OJ and grenadine. However, my in-house guinea pig begged to differ and really didn’t care much for this one, finding it a bit harsh. This drink might be a little bit too much on the edge for some, but that’s showbiz.