The Pink Can-can
When thinking of France thoughts of a romantic backdrop, love scenes and happily ever after most often comes to mind. Rarely would thoughts travel to the seedy, red light Quartier Pigalle in Pairs, or the dark, unromantic pleasures enjoyed there over the past several centuries.
The seductive crown jewel of La Pigalle district is undoubtedly the Moulin Rouge, the world-famous cabaret that has offered inspiration to poets, artists, along with satisfying the secret desires of men, young and old. Opening its doors in 1889, Moulin Rouge revolutionized erotic dance in Europe with its most famed re-creation of the Cancan, a dance originally introduced in the working-class ballrooms. Moulin Rouge “The Red Windmill” became synonymous with luxury and extravagant “night life” and was a particular hit with the gentlemen elite of Pairs.
In 1890, HRH the Price of Wales, later to be King Edward VII, having crossed the English Channel entered France from England unnoticed. Upon making his way to Pairs, in secrecy and discretion he secured a private table at the famous Moulin Rouge. La Goulue, a famed dancer synonymous with the Cancan, the Moulin Rouge, the toast of Paris and the highest paid entertainer of her day, was high kicking her legs when the Prince entered the cabaret, yet she recognized him instantly and yelled out “Hey, Wales. Champagne’s on you!”
What was the dance this girl and her entourage were performing, which had the Prince so enthralled? Why, it was the Cancan, a high-energy, seductive dance, not exclusive to Moulin Rouge but made notable by its high-caliber dancers. Viewed at the time as a risqué erotic display, the cancan is a dance of high kicks and loud shrieks, revealing only what a woman chooses and upper-class men opening their wallets wide in an effort to see more.
The Pink Can-can
2 oz Grey Goose Vodka
1/2 oz Triple Sec
2 oz Grapefruit juice
1/2 oz Pineapple juice
A grapefruit slice and pink sugar for the rim
Begin your sweet seductive dance by filling your martini shaker with ice. Combine all ingredients. Shake well until the shaker begins to frost or as I tell my bartender’s ‘break the ice’. Rim your favorite martini glass with the grapefruit slice and dip into the pink sugar. This sweet and bitter rim is an all too obvious metaphor for the bittersweet love affair between gentlemen and their courtesans. Strain the chilled cocktail into the glass and serve.