We’re mixing the Jack’s Word cocktail on April 22 because it’s Jack Nicholson’s birthday. He’s pretty old now and long retired, but his legend stands. After all, if you’re in films over 50-ish years and hold the record as male actor most nominated for an Academy Award you get a reputation as one of the greatest of all time.
Along the way he gained quite a bad-boy aura and it was well deserved. Ever charismatic, his home had the reputation as the wildest place in Hollywood. As we describe below we considered cocktails reminiscent of a few of his films but ultimately selected the Jack’s Word as a suitable Drink of the Day.
Sometimes considered the coolest man alive, Jack Nicholson comes from modest roots in Neptune City, New Jersey. He first came to California to visit his sister when he was 13 and took a job as an office worker for animators Hanna and Barbera. His first acting job was in 1955 when he was eighteen but he didn’t get into a low-budget film until 1958.
Nicholson largely floundered in low-budget films and TV soap operas for a while. It wasn’t until 1969 when a role opened up In the legendary film Easy Rider that he hit the big time and was nominated for an Academy Award.
The attention he gained served him well, and from the 1970s through the 2000s he starred in film after film. Over that period, starting with Five Easy Pieces in 1970 and ending with The Bucket List in 2007, he belted out a few Academy Award nominations each decade.
Along the way he had a lot of fun and didn’t hold back on either drugs or drinking. In an interview he told Rolling Stone that he didn’t remember hanging out with the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Ad he put it, “I saw this documentary with a scene of me and the Beatles out in Malibu, and I just couldn’t remember it. Of course, I could tell from the film I was a bit loaded – no doubt about that.” Lends credence to the old quip that “if you can remember the ‘60s you weren’t really there.”
Once he achieved major success Nicholson bought a party pad next door to Marlon Brando. He did at least have good taste, though. He filled the house with big-league artwork from the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Rodin and bought courtside seats for the Lakers.
The Jack’s Word Cocktail
Nicholson was a formidable presence on screen no matter the role. Whether as The Joker in Batman, Jake Gittes in Chinatown or the crazed Jack Torrance in The Shining he was the star that made the movie. His characters in Easy Rider, Terms of Endearment, and The Crossing Guard were certainly into booze and reckless abandon. But our minds turn to The Shining and Mr. Nicholson as Jack Torrance visiting Lloyd, the ghost bartender of the Overlook Hotel. Even if he just drank bourbon there.
But of course Jack Torrance had spent the entire winter nominally writing his book but typing out page after page of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Those were Jack’s words, so we go to the Jack’s Word cocktail as Drink of the Day. After all, we’ve got Jack, playing Jack and writing Jack’s words to horrifying effect.
The drink, however, is not so frightening. The Jack’s Word cocktail is a four equal parts drink reminiscent of the Last Word. In fact we’d call it a Last Word variation in line with such drinks as the Paper Plane or the Naked & Famous in which the formula is intact but all ingredients have been swapped out. The Jack’s Word comes from Brad Farran at the Clover Club in New York, and highly regarded establishment in Brooklyn.
Jack's Word Cocktail
- ¾ oz Laird’s Apple Brandy
- ¾ oz Sweet Vermouth
- ¾ oz Yellow Chartreuse
- ¾ oz Fresh lemon juice
- Garnish: Lemon twist
- Add all ingredients to your trusty shaker.
- Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
- Strain into pre-chilled coupe glass.
- Express twist over drink and garnish glass.
- Stay away from typewriters.