Dinner and a Movie – The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

I was beside myself with excitement when I saw that my fave food mag Delicious Magazine has a new column called Kay & Fred’s Movie Night. Kay Plunkett-Hogge and her partner Fred will be selecting a movie and suggesting a meal to have alongside it each month. Whoopee!

The first recipe was utterly fabulous – a pot roast pheasant. I let out a guttural groan when I had my first mouthful – absolutely delicious! The pheasant was slow cooked on a bed of sauerkraut with bacon, onion, carrot, celery, garlic with some Riesling and chicken stock added. Yum, yum, yum!

January’s edition of Delicious should still be available in your local magazine emporium and I heartily recommend to go out and grab one.

As the pheasant was cooking I made myself a pre-dinner cocktail appropriate to the movie. A Mary Astor Painless Anaesthetic. Was there ever a better name for a cocktail? Mary is in The Prisoner of Zenda, and as usual she plays a rather dour, but still very sexy character.

I can’t remember ever seeing Mary Astor smile in a movie, so it was great to see this pic of her and Ronald off-set sharing a joke.

Mary Astor’s Astor Painless Anaesthetic

From The Stork Club Bar Book (1946) – makes 2

3 oz gin

1 oz French vermouth

1 oz Italian vermouth

1 oz cognac

Shake well with ice cubes and dash of orange bitters, twist of lemon peel and just a touch of sugar.

It was a mighty fine cocktail, so good in fact that I had two.

With a couple of those and the rest of the bottle of Riesling to guzzle

I was in a VERY good mood as I ate my divine pheasant dinner and watched The Prisoner of Zenda.

Throughout the film I was pondering about who I fancied most.

Ronald Colman
David Niven
or Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

My conclusion was soon reached. Every time Douglas was onscreen he electrified the place. He’s a cad of course, but a very fanciable one.

The three moustaches were very similar. Please bear in mind that I was quite drunk, but halfway through the movie I started thinking obsessively about what a pain it must be to shave when you have a very defined moustache.

Then I scared myself a bit when I realised that I DID NOT KNOW if Mr. Rathbone has a moustache or not. We have been together for almost 6 years and I just couldn’t remember – haha. He does of course, but I came to the conclusion that it is more part of his beard rather than a separate piece of face fungus.

I had a lot of fun making the pheasant dish, getting merry on Mary’s Painless Anaesthetic cocktails and thinking about moustaches. Thank you, Kay and Fred and Delicious Magazine. I can’t wait to see what next month’s dinner and a movie suggestion will be.

Alternative tipples you could have before, during or after The Prisoner of Zenda.

David Niven’s Julglögg

Douglas Fairbanks Cocktail No. 1 (named after Douglas Fairbanks Senior I think, but I don’t think Douglas Fairbanks Junior would mind)

Madeleine Carroll’s Sauternes Punch

My DVD has the 1952 version of The Prisoner of Zenda as well as the 1937 version. My mum’s heartthrob Stewart Granger is in that one…

What? No moustache?!

6 Responses to Dinner and a Movie – The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

  1. Hazel 29 Jan, 2019 at 8:02 am #

    My New Year cocktail was a Charlie Chaplin that is remarkably similar to one of the Douglas Fairbanks recipes- sloe gin (I used damson), apricot brandy, lime and sugar syrup I think. Delicious and very drinkable!

    • Jenny 2 Feb, 2019 at 7:21 am #

      OOoooh! I’m always looking for new movie star cocktails to try. The Charlie Chaplin sounds great. Where did you come across the recipe, that’s going on the to-do list for sure!

      • Hazel 2 Feb, 2019 at 11:08 am #


        I found it because I wanted a cocktail that used up some of the liqueurs I already had and we’ve made an awful lot of sloe and damson gin/vodka and blackberry whisky. I also had some apricot brandy I made when the apricot tree in our old garden actually had some edible fruit so I chose this. It’s widely cited as being from the 1920’s so I assume Charlie actually drank it!

  2. Jenny 4 Feb, 2019 at 7:39 am #

    Oooh, that’s fab Hazel. I am got a copy of The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book winging its way to me right now. Naturally, I am hoping there will be other cocktails named after movie stars in there!

    You made your own apricot brandy? YOU ARE MY HERO!

  3. Hazel 4 Feb, 2019 at 8:12 am #

    Haha! It’s very easy as well as very good! You just soak the fruit and sugar in the brandy for a couple of months and then strain. And then as well as some delicious brandy you also have done very good apricots that need eating!
    I’d highly recommend it if you find ripe apricots for sale in the summer.

  4. Jenny 7 Feb, 2019 at 11:03 am #

    You are ON Hazel. I shall be watching the greengrocers like a HAWK for some ripe apricots in the summer!

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