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Goodbye, Columbus

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures, 1969, Goodbye Columbus

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures, 1969, Goodbye Columbus

For many years, I’ve been slightly obsessed with photography and paintings depicting beautiful people in swimming pools (Slim Aarons and his society poolside photos are definite favorites of mine). Thus it was thrilling to discover a film that captured this beauty on celluloid, the classic Goodbye, Columbus (DVD/Download). Based on the novella by Philip Roth, it stars Ali MacGraw as Brenda, who begins dating Richard Benjamin’s character Neil, a lower class librarian from the Bronx. Class differences and parental interference create conflict in their relationship, but nevertheless they spend a glorious summer playing tennis, lounging poolside, and attending parties.

Released in 1969, Goodbye, Columbus was an early film in Ali MacGraw’s frustratingly short career, made even before she did Love Story. It’s sometimes difficult for me to watch her in this, just because she’s SO beautiful. Truly, she has that kind of naturally perfect skin and hair that makes you think she must just wake up looking camera-ready. Her clothes in this film are also stunning. Cute 60’s bikinis, tennis whites, and later, pleated skirts and pea coats after the summer ends- they’re all completely fabulous. The film is a frank look at relationships between college-aged young adults, and in many ways reminds me of The Graduate. Richard Benjamin’s character is searching for something, and he stupidly thinks he’s found it in a smart, beautiful girl whose affections run hot and cold like tap water.

My drink this week was inspired by one of my favorite scenes in the book. It was given short shrift in the film adaptation, but I still think about it every time I see cherries suddenly appear in my grocery store’s produce section. In the novel, Roth describes the sheer opulence of a wealthy family’s refrigerator. Filled with a bounty of delicious fresh fruit, it’s a sight that the main character would never have experienced in his own home. He takes a cherry from a bowl, but is then immediately caught by his girlfriend’s annoying little sister. It’s ridiculous, of course the cherries are there for all to enjoy, but it’s such a foreign concept to him that he becomes embarrassed. Therefore, I’m urging my readers to go crazy this week- buy cherries and actually eat them with abandon! This week, I’m serving up a Cherry Gin Sling.

Cherry Gin Sling

1 oz gin

1/2 oz Cointreau

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

3 oz light cherry soda (I used Simply Balanced Cran-cherry soda)

Fresh, whole sweet cherries

Lime wheels, for garnish

In an empty highball glass, muddle one cherry. Fill the glass with ice. Then, in an ice-filled cocktail shaker, add gin, Cointreau, and lime juice. Shake to chill. Pour into ice filled glasses, then top with cherry soda, to taste. Garnish with cherries and lime wheels.


This is a great summertime drink that can be served up at backyard parties. Cherries are my absolute favorite fruit, and if I had been confronted with a giant bowl of gleaming cherries like this character, I would have dove in head first. Plus, I love using seasonal ingredients in my cocktails whenever I can. So mix up your gin sling, and get ready to enjoy watching Ali MacGraw frolic through summer while poor Richard Benjamin just tries to keep up. Cheers!

2 responses »

  1. Dear Liz,

    LOVE Cherries and this timely post.

    At my house we are in a Deep Eddy- Ruby Red phase and since discovering Deep Eddy and Tito’s we never use gin, so we will be substituting.

    Because of MS I can only have one cocktail, and if I can only have one let it have Cherries! I would have liked to have seen more of Ali McGraw too, also Karen Black. Welcome back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Let’s have more Cher too!

    I’m a fan, Julia


    PS.I have ccd some of my friends who either bartend for me and/or also love cherries, cocktails, and film.

    Lisa Lee, Carol, I hope used all my commas correctly ( + ;

    • Thanks so much for reading Julia! I’m a big fan of Deep Eddy-Ruby Red myself- have you seen the post I did on Pillow Talk? That’s probably my favorite recipe I’ve done so far using grapefruit vodka. I’m also a big fan of their cranberry vodka- look for more recipes with that around Thanksgiving!

      I’ll be sure to add some Cher into my line-up. How can I not discuss Mermaids or Moonstruck?! I love getting reader feedback and suggestions for films- it makes me watch some old favorites i haven’t seen in forever. So keep ’em coming! 🙂


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