They don’t make movie stars like they used to — and they probably only ever made one like Tallulah Bankhead. As she herself put it: ‘Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.’
Her facility for coining witty phrases was almost as remarkable as her appetite for sex, her fondness for cocaine and her thirst for hard liquor.
Walter Pintus, the wunderkind behind the Ritz’s splendid Rivoli Bar, has created a fitting tribute to the indomitable, insatiable spirit of La Bankhead. ‘The Tallulah’ commemorates the star’s visit to the hotel in 1951. She was well into the autumn of her career by this time but still capable of drawing — and entertaining — an adoring crowd.
‘The evening after I arrived I held court for the gentlemen of the press,’ she recalled in her autobiography. ‘In keeping with the occasion and the dimensions of my legend, the rout was awash with champagne. To increase the velocity of the legend, I took off my slipper, filled it with wine and tossed off the contents, to the great delight of the photographers.’
Those delighted photographers present at the rout served the legend well. There is a charming snapshot of Miss Bankhead ‘tossing off’ that ‘slipper’ of champagne, which is raised in her left hand, while a conventional glass of fizz is clutched in her right.
Now you can do the same, without any risk of a nasty inner-sole aftertaste. Not only is ‘The Tallulah’ lipsmackingly moreish — a blend of Soshu Japanese spirit, Jasmine Pearl tea, Cinzano Bianco, geranium essence and champagne — it is also, like everything that Walter and his team produce at the Rivoli Bar, gorgeous to look at, immaculately served in a bespoke glass Louboutin stiletto. If anyone comes up with a cuter cocktail this summer, I’ll drink it out of my hat.
The Rivoli Bar at the Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, London W1; www.theritzlondon.com/rivoli; 020 7300 2340