Sennett’s Bathing Beauty Cocktail

bathing-beauties-1915-11Mack Sennett is probably best remembered for inflicting upon the world the slapstick antics of the  Keystone Cops. The buffoonery of his cartoonish police force notwithstanding, Sennett knew what sold; and that was sex; or, at least, the hint of sex. Thus was created the Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties. Other movie companies followed suit, but it is Sennett’s that everyone remembers. With future stars Carole Lombard, Marie Prevost, and Gloria Swanson in the ranks (though Swanson always denied having been a bathing beauty), is it any wonder? By today’s standards, their bathing costumes look charmingly quaint. Sennett wasn’t looking to just show a little skin, though that never seems to hurt; no, he wanted to capitalized on the “Flaming Youth” movement that was being fanned across the nation. It was not about “perfect” bodies (though, as with any period, there was a certain look), but about youthful vitality and a devil-may-care attitude. Though, it should be said that, apparently, the first thing Sennett looked for was attractive knees. bathing-beauties-3

Especially compared to today’s tortured toothpick fashion models, these girls are positively ebullient. The result of such youthful exuberance was, of course, condemnation by the socially conservative and higher ticket sales for Sennett. He toured them across the country and they were banned in several cities. Their pictures could be seen in newspapers, theater lobbies, and arcade cards. They made appearances in many of the Keystone films regardless of whether it fit the plot. Any excuse was good enough to give them some screen time and at least half of the audience certainly didn’t mind one bit, no siree bob.


“Mack Sennett has every moveite in the U.S. raving over his bunch of bathing beauties. No wonder the population of Los Angeles is increasing! As for the writer of these lines, he would rather be the Pacific ocean than President!”

Praise, indeed!


Sennett’s Bathing Beauty Cocktail

1 ½ oz Bourbon

½ oz Rum

½ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Lime Juice

½ oz Cointreau

¼ oz Simple Syrup

2 dashes Orange Bitters

Soda Water

Combine all ingredients except the soda with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a six ounce glass and top with a little soda water. Garnish with lemon, lime, and/or orange half-wheels.

This is a tall drink and can be served with a few ice cubes, if you like.

Summer is coming to a close, but the hot weather is here for a bit longer. Still plenty of time to go to the beach and enjoy the scenery with a fizzy libation.