Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: The Brandy Fizz

Hello Vintage-istas!

Since we cracked open a bottle of sparkling wine last week for our Thirsty Thirsday, we decided we would do a whole series of champagne-inclusive cocktails to use up the rest of the bottle! This week, we're going to take a look at a slightly modernized (and more alcoholic!) take on the classic Brandy Fizz:

A "Fizz" is a family of cocktails containing a spirit, some kind of citric juice, and-you guessed it-something carbonated. Typically, Fizz cocktails contain club soda or seltzer, but we here at The Vintage Chanteuse prefer to substitute champagne or sparkling wine as a way of giving a classic cocktail a contemporary kick! We first stumbled upon this recipe listed as a "Cognac Fizz" in Here's How: The Home Bartender's Mixing Guide, a small booklet printed by the Schieffelin & Co. liquor importing company in the 1940s. Let's take a look at our Brandy Fizz's ingredients:

  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1.5 oz brandy or cognac
  • Sparkling wine to top off
  • Lime twist for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, pour lime juice and brandy over sugar cube and allow to dissolve (if you grow impatient, you may gently muddle to encourage the process to speed up). Next, add ice and shake well until ice crystals begin to form around exterior of shaker.

Then, strain into a highball glass, top with sparkling wine, garnish with a lemon twist, and enjoy responsibly!

Recommended accompaniment:

Our version of the Cognac Fizz is steeped in Francophilia (ignoring that we used brandy instead of cognac and sparkling wine instead of champagne!), so we recommend you accompany your fizz with Paris Combo's "Fibre de Verre." Paris Combo is a contemporary Parisian ensemble blending classic French styles with American jazz and swing, amongst many others and is sure to compliment your fizz perfectly!

Until next drink!

Jerron J.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Retro Rehab: Mid Century Modern Chairs

Hello Vintage-istas!

This is the first of what we hope will be many posts titled Retro Rehab, a series showing you some of the great finds we've come across at flea markets and tag sales and have given them a second life by refurbishing, refinishing, or repurposing them! To start out, we're going to look at a set of aqua Mid-Century Modern chairs we happened upon at a tag sale two weeks ago:

Here you can see the chairs have great seats and backs, but the copper structure really needed some work.


After a bit of work with the drill, we got the chairs apart and simply masked the wonderful aqua covers using tape and newspaper. After applying a bit of metallic copper spray paint, they look as good as new!

Once the pieces were dried, there was some minor re-assembly required and then they were ready to be reintroduced back into the world!

The first chair is being utilized as much-needed seating near our front door.

The other is perhaps the most important seat in the house: our new piano bench!

Well, we hope you enjoyed our first installment of Retro Rehab (Herr Beethoven approves, and he is not an easy critic to please!) Who knows, maybe it'll be just the thing to inspire you finally finish that retro restoration project you've been putting aside all these years!


The Vintage Chanteuse

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: The Champagne Julep

Hello Vintage-istas!

This week warmed up again in New England, so we're milking this warm weather summer feeling for all it's worth! Thinking of some of the most refreshing cocktails I know, the classic Champagne Julep immediately come to mind; let's take a look!

The "julep" is a family of cocktails which entails mixing a spirit with sugar, citrus, and some kind of herb or fruit via the process of muddling. Most commonly, juleps are made with mint leaves, hence the name of the most popular julep, the Mint Julep! The Mint Julep, which is the mainstay of the Kentucky Derby because of its inclusion of Kentucky Bourbon, is both the reigning king and grandfather of the julep family. Our version, the Champagne Julep, started to become especially popular throughout the Jazz Age, and hit its peak in the 1940s (think The Great Gatsby). Let's take a look at our ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp simple syrup
  • 7-8 mint leaves
  • Splash of fresh lime juice
  • Champagne, chilled
  • Sprint of mint leaves for garnish

Begin by muddling mint leaves, simple syrup, and a splash of fresh lime juice in the bottom of a glass. Remember, you only need to muddle hard enough to release the oils from the mint leaves; we do not want to pulverize them into a pulp! Transfer muddled mixture into a Collins or cocktail glass of choice, add ice, top off with champagne, and garnish with a sprig of mint leaves for extra measure! It is important to note that you may need to use a bar spoon to effectively combine champagne with muddled ingredients. Oh, and don't forget to enjoy!

Recommended accompaniment:

For your listening pleasure, we recommend Milton Ager's "Ain't She Sweet." Featured in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, this song was originally released in 1927 and became one of the anthems of the "Roaring Twenties!" 

Until next week!

Jerron J.

Monday, August 18, 2014

my week in snapshots: week 4

Sometimes life throws you curve balls and suddenly big, seemingly life changing decisions must be made immediately.  Well, that was my week...hopefully the decisions I made were right. Because of this, I've had a week of new beginnings and goodbyes.  Moving forward in life is scary and hard but I am focusing on one day at a time--living life slowly and intentionally.

My favorite thing about living in a really old apartment building? The details!  I love finding the most interesting details in my apartment; like this art deco thermostat.
 The most important life decisions should be made over drinks and sunshine.
 This little girl always wants to help....I am pretty sure she thinks she is a human.
 I broke my vegetarianism and had an amazing burger this week.  It was so worth it!
 My score finally arrived and now this is my life...
Yesterday we received a bag full of beautiful peaches!  So what better to make than gluten-free peach crisp?!

Here's to a living a life full of intention and vintage-inspiration!


The Vintage Chanteuse

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thirsty Thursday: The Classic Daiquiri

Hello Vintage-istas!

We're nearing the end of summer; school is around the corner and we can feel the days already starting to shorten! It's that time when you begin to desperately search for things to do and foods to eat that are so iconic they seem to actually stretch out these last waning weeks of summer. Because of this, we're bringing you a cocktail this week that screams summer on the beach in paradise: The Classic Daiquiri!

A "daiquiri" is actually a family of drinks which entails nearly any rum-based concoction mixed with citrus juice and some kind of sweetener. Order a daiquiri in a bar today and you're likely to get something like a strawberry daiquiri, a mix resembling more of a glorified sugar slushie than a cocktail, but traditionally this drink is sweet and simple. In it's original form, the cocktail likely originated in Havana around the turn of the 20th century and is best when made with uncomplicated and fresh ingredients:
  • 2oz light rum
  • 1oz lime juice
  • .5oz simple syrup
In a shaker, combine rum, freshly squeezed lime juice and simple syrup (or a couple teaspoons of sugar) and shake vigorously until ice crystals begin to form on exterior of shaker. Then, strain into a cocktail glass and, if desired, garnish with a lime wedge!

Recommended accompaniment:

To accompany your drink, we recommend the Cuban "Queen of Bolero" Olga Guillot, singing "Qué sabes tú." Olga's sultry voice and distinct style made her a sensation in the Latin American music throughout much of the mid 20th century, making for a uniquely authentic accompaniment to your Classic Daiquiri!

Until next drink,

Jerron J.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Ladies' Guide to Back-to-School Shopping

It's back-to-school time!  I love this time of year. There's a new crispness that appears in the air, freshly sharpened pencils fill book bags, and Friday nights are no longer for dates but football games. My most favorite part of back-to-school is the shopping!  And why should it be only for students?!  Here is my Ladies' Guide to Back-to-School Shopping!

From Left to Right: Botanical Breakfast Dress, Bookstore Browsing Dress, Address the Room Dress, Weekend Folk Festival Jeans, On Rotation SweaterParis Cafe Sweater

From Left to Right: Fashion Takes Flight Watch, Seen and Be Seine, Stationery of the Art Pencil Set, Thoughts on Flying Journal, Perks and Recreation Bag, Just Like Honey Heel

Monday, August 11, 2014

Over the Weekend

We are Summering hard over here at The Vintage Chanteuse: Early morning runs, fresh sweet corn with every meal, ice cream for dinner, and lots of sunshine. This weekend we focused on slow living. We have a huge list of to-dos before schools starts again and rehearsals begin to fill our evenings and weekends. We worked hard but we also focused on quality time together before the madness starts. My mind is filled with day dreams of projects to complete in the next two weeks.  Here are some awesome things I found over the weekend...

Hidden 40 feet below the M. Steinert & Sons Piano Sellers in downtown Boston is a 120 year-old Renaissance-style concert hall!

This beautiful hall has been hidden away for nearly 70 years and used a storage space for 60 of those years. Here's a video showing the poor state of the mysterious concert hall!

Ben Wu and David Usui, of Lost & Found Films, have created this awesome series called "This Must Be The Place" which explores the idea of home. This is their newest video about a silent movie house, OLD TOWN, which a gentleman has lovingly restored and night-after-night plays an incredible Wurlitzer organ. I wish I lived closer to this place!

 After reading this article I am dying to get my hands on some vintage prints! 

I have been searching every tag sales and flea market looking for the perfect lipstick holder. I am smitten with this one from Anthropology!

Here's to working hard and living slowly,

The Vintage Chanteuse

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Week in Snapshots: Week 3

Hello Vintage-istas!

This week has been a week of jumping back into real life.  After blissfully running away from all my responsibilities, I am getting back into the practice room, hitting the pavement with my half-marathon training and preparing my music curriculum for the Fall. I am feeling refreshed and have found a renewed passion for my art form, but goodness, it is exhausting!

Here are a few snapshots:

We found this beautiful Fall leaf on our run this week! I am so not ready for Summer to be over....

The sunflowers are in full bloom right now! Ah, a sunflower will forever remind me of my dear late aunt, Lori McLain, who grew the most beautiful sunflower in her backyard.

We happened across these awesome retro chairs at a tag sale! I am not sure where they will even go in our apartment, but I couldn't leave without them.

Well, it is Summer and Connecticut really does have the BEST ice cream!

Soooo much German is being shoved in my head right now! I am preparing a role in Der Rosenkavalier in November, so the practice room is becoming my second home.

Here's a little love, just because the world is scary right now and I don't think too much of it could be spread. A man holding a sign in West Hartford Center said it best: BRAHMS NOT BOMBS.

Leonard Bernstein said, "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."

Here's a little Brahms' Requiem to help soothe your soul this week. If you jump to 40:01 you can hear me as the soprano soloist with the Arizona State University Symphony and Choruses.


The Vintage Chanteuse

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Vintage Chanteuse's Favorite Retro Rom-Coms!

Hello Vintage-ista's!  Every now-and-again I want nothing more than to pour myself a glass of wine, put on my favorite baby doll nightie, and curl up for an evening full of old movies. Here are just a few of my favorite mid-century romantic comedies (it was hard even narrowing it down to 10)!

1. Doris Day will always be one of my favorite singers and actresses! She is the queen of rom-coms!  However, I think my favorite has to be Pillow Talk.

"Rock Hudson and Doris Day, two of the screen's most popular and enduring stars, are together for the very first time! When Jan Morrow (Day), uptight interior decorator, is forced to share a party line with carefree playboy Brad Allen (Hudson), there's no connection between them. But when the two accidentally meet, the smitten Brad pretends to be a wealthy Texan, wooing Jan with seductive late-night calls. Their phone line is sizzling until Jan discovers her caller's true identity and calls his bluff. Winner of an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, this delicious romp co-stars Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter."

2. The Reluctant Debutant is delicious! Sandra Dee, Rex Harrison, and Angela Lansbury are so fabulous together. The fashions are divine and the comedic timing is perfect. This film is a very close second only to, well, any Doris Day movie!

"It's social season in London, and amid the swirl of coming-out balls the aristocratic Broadbents (real-life marrieds Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall) are intent on giving their American-educated 17-year-old daughter Jane (Sandra Dee) the right entry into society and a proper upper-class beau. One complication: flighty Mabel Claremont (Angela Lansbury) is eager to match that same beau with her daughter. And another: Jane, of course, has her own ideas about these matters - and an eye for a guy (John Saxon) who's a drummer in the dance band. Comedy is in season for The Reluctant Debutante, a rib-tickler of societal foibles and follies given spirited direction by Vincente Minnelli and featuring a full dance card of deft badinage."

3. Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Laren Bacall, and 1950's New York City all in one film?! How to Marry a Millionaire is classic old Hollywood cinema from the orchestral suites to the beautiful cinematography of mid-century NYC. I think this is Marilyn Monroe's best film!  

"They're three beautiful models, looking for the man and the money of their dreams! Almost broke, they pool their funds to rent a posh Manhattan penthouse in which they plan to lure their victims. But the gold digger's plans suddenly go awry when two of them fall for men who appear to be poor! Trying to stop each other from marrying the wrong guy, Monroe, Grable, Bacall deliver the finest comedic performances of their careers. And they learn that a rich man is actually worthless- unless you're in love with him!" 

4. "Tammy, Tammy, Tammy's in love..."  Debbie Reynolds glows in as the title character in Tammy and the Bachelor. This is the first of a series of Tammy Movies which later stars the sweet and fiery Sandra Dee. This film co-stars a young and dashing Leslie Nielsen as well and includes one of my favorite scenes in all of the Tammy movies.

"Tammy and the Bachelor: Academy Award nominee Debbie Reynolds stars in this romantic comedy, the first feature in the delightful Tammy series. Meet young Tammy, a homespun Mississippi gal who, in the course of her first extraordinary adventure, teaches a sophisticated bachelor (Leslie Nielsen) about love, an uptight Southern town about fun, and a modern family about happiness."

 5. Sandra Dee is delightful as the spirited and opinionated Gidget. This is another first in a series of Gidget movies and later television show, of which my favorite in the series has to be Gidget Goes Hawaiian! 

"The original surfer girl gets her own three-film DVD collection, dippy fun from a more innocent time. 1959's Gidget made real surfers nauseated, but it's a kicky movie with some great lounge-era lingo. Sandra Dee, perkiness personified, plays the curious teen who breaks the gender line in surfing. She's also got the attention of surf-happy Moondoggie (James Darren) and the big Kahuna (Cliff Robertson), the latter the prototype of the surf bum who roams the globe in search of the endless summer. The film actually kicked off the great boom in surfing popularity (the Beach Boys and the Beach Party movies followed), much to the chagrin of purists. It was based on a novel by Frederick Kohner, who was inspired by his daughter's experiences."

 6. That Funny Feeling is the film in which Bobby Darin (of Beyond the Sea fame) met his future wife Sandra Dee. This is an adorable romantic comedy about a typical case of mistaken identity!

"Sandra Dee stars as Joan Howell, a young and pretty maid-for-hire, who meets and begins dating wealthy New York City businessman Tom Milford (Bobby Darin). Embarrassed about taking him home to her tiny apartment, Joan brings Tom to a swanky apartment she cleans - not knowing it's really his place. Tom carries on the deception until Joan discovers who he really is and sets out to exact sweet feminine revenge in this madcap romantic comedy of mistaken identity."

7. An Affair to Remember is a classic and a must on any romantic comedy list. It's one of the McLain girl's favorites. There is a reason why this movie is quoted and emulated by so many other films! You just have to see it to understand. Oh, and don't forget the tissues!

"In this poignant and humorous love story nominated for four Academy Awards, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr meet on an ocean liner and fall deeply in love. Though each is engaged to someone else, they agree to meet six months later at the Empire State Building if they still feel the same way about each other. But a tragic accident prevents their rendezvous and the lover's future takes an emotional and uncertain turn."

8.  I'm a sucker for a good murder mystery and who does them better than Alfred Hitchcock? Rear Window, with Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart, is at the top of my murder mystery list. I know this is supposed to be a rom-com list but there is a little romance in there too! And, Grace Kelly's style is impeccable!

"Directed by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is an edge-of-your-seat classic starring two of Hollywood’s most popular stars. When a professional photographer (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbors play out across the courtyard. When he suspects his neighbor of murdering his nagging wife, he enlists his socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to help investigate the suspicious chain of events, leading to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history."

9. So, I am not a fan of westerns, but John Wayne's McLintock is just so fun and I cannot resist Maureen O'Hara! Ever since watching her in The Parent Trap as a little girl I have loved her as an actress.

"Cattle baron George Washington McLintock fights his wife, his daughter, and political land-grabbers, finally "taming" them all in this Western comedy with Taming of the Shrew overtones."

10. Ah, and finally, Sabrina. I fell in love with Paris before even stepping foot in the city because of this movie. This quote says it all: "I have learned how to live, how to be IN the world and OF the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life. Or from love, either."


"Bogie and Holden are the mega-rich Larrabee brothers of Long Island. Bogie's all work, Holden's all playboy. But when Sabrina, daughter of the family's chauffeur, returns from Paris all grown up and glamorous, the stage is set for some family fireworks as the brothers fall under the spell of Hepburn's delightful charms."

Well, there you have it! What are your must watch retro movies when you are home alone on those rare Saturday nights? I would love to expand my film collection!

Happy Watching!

The Vintage Chanteuse