When I created this blog back in 2013, I had just seen the movie Julie and Julia and was inspired by the idea of having a recipe blog with my own spin on it. My original intention was to post cocktail hour recipes (hence the Zesty URL) with a twist – all of the drinks would be classic movie star themed. I wrote zero posts and quickly forgot about the blog until resurrecting it under a new identity a few months ago. However, I did write a ridiculously long list of recipe ideas, which I just found recently in the saved drafts section that went something like: Lauren Bacall = husky (whisky), sultry (cinnamon), earthy (nutmeg), served hot (because you have to put your lips together & blow). 

As it still fits my M.O., I intend to resurrect the idea in the form of a series of blog posts.

Classic Cocktails’ first drink is in honor of silent film’s first Italian superstar and sex symbol, the man who changed the accepted idea of what a film’s male protagonist and love interest looked like: Rudolph Valentino. Obviously, this drink would need to be hot and dark with an Italian twist. Sambuca immediately came to mind, being both an Italian liqeur and flavored like black licorice, fitting in with Rudy’s dark lover persona. I used white Sambuca, but black Samuca would be even better (it’s pricy, which is why I stuck with white this time around). If you do use white Sambuca, you can still have a rich, dark colored drink due to the Blackberry and the Kahlua. I tend to like tart fruity flavors with Sambuca and I though the sour sweetness of the blackberry suited. The Kahlua darkens the color of the drink while enhancing the flavor of the coffee beans.

The Coffee Sambuca (3 coffee beans + Sambuca in a shot glass) is a popular drink in Southern Italy (where Rudy was from). You would specifically use 3 coffee beans as each one symbolizes a different thing: one for health, one for happiness, and one for prosperity. An uneven number of beans is considered unlucky. When you light the Coffee Sambuca on fire it becomes the Flaming Coffee Sambuca, a former favorite aperitif of my husband and I. The fire toasts the beans slightly and makes them taste better, in my opinion (we always eat the beans, but you don’t have to). Needless to say, we had a lot of fun testing this one out.

The Rudolph Valentino

  • 3 coffee beans*
  • 1 Blackberry muddled OR 1/2 oz Blackberry juice if you are anti-pulp
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 1 1/2 oz Sambuca (Black or white)

*An uneven number of beans is considered unlucky, but if you are going for accuracy you can adjust this. If Rudy’s mangled, tangled love life or untimely death is on your mind, maybe happiness bean and/or health bean can sit this one out. 

Muddle the blackberry (or add the juice) in a cocktail glass. Add the beans, Kahlua, and Sambuca. Light on fire. Leave for a few seconds, enough to enjoy the flame. Don’t forget to blow out and don’t let it burn too long (it may end up breaking your glass!). Before you blow it out, use that match to light some incense, turn down the lights in your black onyx decorated den and think of the hearts you’ve broken and the lips you’ve bitten.