I first read the new novel of my friend, Juliette Fay, a few months ago, and I’ve been wanting to write about it here ever since. The Tumbling Turner Sisters tells the tale of a poverty-stricken family of four girls who find an unusual solution to their financial problems – they join the world of vaudeville theater.
It’s 1919, and proper young ladies don’t wear short skirts or perform somersaults. But when their father becomes injured and the family can’t make rent, sisters Gert, Winnie, Kit, and Nell begin rehearsing an acrobatic act. After a few false starts, they find themselves traveling the country, meeting a ragtag group of performers, and becoming seduced by the stage lights. It’s an adventure that gives them unparalleled freedoms and excitement – as well as the heartbreak of a few twists of ill fate.
I absolutely loved this book, from its colorful vaudeville setting, to its four lovable and spunky sisters. If you’re looking for a wonderful escape (and, these days, who isn’t?) you’ll love this bighearted tale of adventure.
In one of my favorite scenes, Winnie, the shy and bookish sister, goes on a romantic date with Joe – the piano-playing half of a brother-sister musical act. The young couple dines at the legendary, now dearly departed, Maramor restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, and when Joe suggests they sample a new cocktail called a Singapore Sling, Winnie can’t resist. “It was very sweet and very pink and just bubbly enough to taste like a sort of fruity Dr Pepper,” says Winnie. “These frothy, candied cocktails went down very quickly.” Of course they get sloshed.
The Singapore Sling is a gin-based cocktail invented in 1915 at the Long Bar of Singapore’s Raffles Hotel. As the legend goes, the era’s social mores meant that ladies could not consume alcohol in public – instead, they had to sip more proper libations like fruit juice and tea. The Long Bar’s bartender, Ngian Tong Boon, saw an opportunity and invented a cocktail that appeared pretty and pink – and packed a wallop. Today it’s the national drink of Singapore.
In its original version, the Singapore Sling calls for gin, cherry liqueur, Cointreau, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine. But Juliette suggested a simpler, fresher version, which I’ve modified below. These drinks really are fun to sip while reading this marvelous, funny, heartwarming book (which would also make a great holiday gift!). They really do taste like frothy, bubbly fruit juice (just watch out for the wallop at the end :)
Adapted from the Food Network
Shake 2 shots of pineapple juice, 1 shot of gin, and a squeeze of lime juice in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Add a dash of seltzer and a generous pour of unsweetened pomegranate juice. Garnish with pineapple and lime wedge.