Why is there not a cocktail named after this woman? Well, it’s probably because she was French, cocktails were American, and she tragically died young before the cocktail really took off in Europe. Still, no excuse.
Genevieve Lantelme was born Susanne Madeleine Therese Fossey in Paris, France, around 1880. At age twelve, her parents divorced and she was sent to work in a brothel. What her duties or life was like there is not known, but she decided to become an actress. The theatre was at least a slight step up from a “House of Disreputation.” By all accounts, she was a good actress and eventually studied at the Conservatoire. As an actress at the turn of the century, she was a kept woman and had a number of lovers who supported her. She eventually became the mistress of wealthy media tycoon and amateur playwright, Alfred Edwards, who eventually divorced his fourth wife and married Mademoiselle Lantalme. Known as “Ginette” to her friends, she played many leading roles on stage and was a model of high fashion. Her star grew ever brighter. Then in July, 1911, she and her husband and a few of their friends boarded Edwards’ yacht, “L’Aimee” for a cruise down the Rhine. On the night of the July 24, Ginette disappeared. Controversy surrounded her drowning and some speculated that her husband had a hand in her death. Buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, rumors of her jewels being buried with her led to thieves ransacking the crypt. They found nothing. Some of the jewels were rumored to have been given to Edwards’ new flame, actress Colonna Romano (ahem). The remainder had been sold at auction. Edwards died in 1914 and was buried with Genevieve, so her family made sure Genevieve was moved to the Fossey family tomb in another part of the cemetery.
It turns out that the Savoy Cocktail Book contains a cocktail called the Genevieve. Now, I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by trying to convince you that this drink was somehow named for Genevieve Lantelme because it obviously was not. But for the purpose of this post, perhaps we could pretend. However, the gods are not smiling on us at the moment. The cocktail uses Hercules liqueur which, unfortunately, is no longer made. No one is even sure what was in it or how it tasted. Advertisements list it as Maté-wine aperitif.
“Well,” I said to myself, hitching my pants like Jimmy Cagney, “if the cocktail doesn’t exist, I’ll invent one.” In keeping with Genevieve’s homeland, the ingredients would be French. Definitely using cognac, no doubt about that. And maybe I’ll open that bottle of Dubonnet rouge. Now, what citrus do I have rolling round the frig? A lime. Well, the French import limes, don’t they? And so it went on.
Only after I “invented” this cocktail did I look up drinks with the same ingredients. It turns out that the cocktail already existed. It’s called the “Weep No More” which seemed eerily appropriate. Unfortunately, it is not a very good drink as written, so I tweaked the proportions a bit and switched out the lime juice with lemon. I thought about calling it “Go Ahead and Weep,” but for this post, we are going to call it the Ginette Cocktail.
1 oz Cognac
¾ oz Dubonnet Rouge
¼ oz Lemon Juice
¼ oz Maraschino Liqueur
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express the oils from a lemon peel into the glass, rub the rim with the peel, give it a twist and toss it in.
Here’s to you Mlle. Lantelme. “A votre mémoire!”