Sherwood Forest is a name for a wonderful sparkling cocktail that I’m going to share with you and it’s also an excuse to gush about the 1938 classic film The Adventures of Robin Hood that happens to be my favorite film (there may be others that are smarter and deeper but this has been my #1 since age 8--I am nothing if not loyal) that also inspired my career choice.
The first time I drove by myself to Chicago I went to the Biograph Theater to see a matinee of The Adventures of Robin Hood , barely weeks after my 16th birthday. I had seen it on the small screen for years but this was my first time in a theater with a good print. As Sam Coleridge said somewhere … it was as if the cataracts had been removed from my eyes. The color, the color!!!
The New Yorker magazine once did a magnificent piece on the wonders of 3 strip Technicolor films (it was shot with 3 strips of film registering green, red and blue to which was added cyan, magenta and yellow--this was combined to make the full-color image) and the magical way they maintained their vibrancy when younger films had already begun to fade. My experience that day was that I had opened a jewel box. Errol was perfect (with great legs), Olivia was perfect (with great clothes), even the bad guys were perfect (with great voices) and the colors… astonishing.
When I moved to NY, I saw it again at an Upper West Side Theater. The audience was as colorful as the film and when Errol walked into the castle with a deer slung over his shoulder in those tights…. an entire audience gasped and giggled in awe and delight at the greatest legs on the planet. It was an unforgettable NY moment.
Think of good always triumphing over evil… in Technicolor. When times are tough and the good guys seem to be taking it on the chin, this is the movie to see. If you’ve never seen it…. get yourself a copy… you will thank me. Having one of these Sherwood Forest Cocktails while you watch with good friends on a rainy afternoon… is there anything that a sparkling cocktail doesn’t improve?
Photo by Christopher Strickland
There really is a Sherwood Forest, you know. Situated in Nottinghamshire in the center of England, it is home to many ancient trees -- most notably the “Major Oak” that is so enormous it has a 35’ waist! The tree was young when Robin Hood’s liege lord, Richard the Lionheart, was King of England at the end of the 12th Century (although Richard was born in Oxford, he never spoke English and spent nearly all of his life out of the country—so much for this “English Legend” who died and was buried in France).
The Major Oak
This drink comes from the Cipriani Hotel in Venice, Italy--
nowhere near Sherwood Forest! I found Walter Bolzonella’s recipe
for the drink in the pages of Gourmet Magazine many years ago.
For the life of me the only thing the cocktail has to do with Sherwood Forest is that its color resembles one that was used in Olivia de Havilland’s costumes. It is Technicolor tinted-with-blackberry blue-red. Sherwood Forest is Bolzonella’s name for the drink, not mine. It’s a great twist on Cipriani’s classic Bellini with spiced blackberries supplying the fruit component of the drink instead of the more demure white peach. I intend to use the spicing for the next blackberry pie I make… it is really a great combination.
Sherwood Forest Cocktails
½ c water
2 whole cloves
6 juniper berries (crushed)
Zest of ½ lime
2 t honey
1” piece of cinnamon
1 c blackberries
¼ - 1/3 C Maple Syrup (they used Lt. Brown Sugar)
2 c crushed ice
2 ½ C Prosecco
Boil the water, add the spices and honey and cool. Strain and pour the infusion into a blender with the berries, maple syrup and ice and blend. Pour through a sieve. Use 3 T puree for ½ c of Prosecco.