I have a little cocktail habit. Not every, but most evenings some time around 6.30pm I’ll have an Americano.
Not the nasty brewed coffee, but a measure of Campari, a measure of Martini Rosso, soda, ice and a slice of orange, mixed up in a hand-blown striped glass tumbler I bought in Venice.
This simple pleasure is one of the great joys of my life. It’s only a very mild buzz, much less than I would get from a glass of wine, but that’s not really the point.
Well, it’s slightly the point, but I could get that from a bog standard G & T, what the Americano, with its double vermouth hit gives me, is a sense of glamour – a very specific sense of glamour which I realise has shaped my whole life.
These ads were on the TV in a very formative stage – the late 1960s and early 1970s – and were hugely influential in developing my idea of a life to aspire to.
A group of beautiful sophisticated people, in cool, relaxed clothing, doing cool, interesting things, like scuba diving, riding horses along a beach, at a Formula One track, racing speed boats back to a yacht moored in a heavenly cove, to the sound track of that cool jingle.
They were all shot from above, with really good editing to long shots and close ups of the beautiful people. They always end with the key couple gazing into each other’s eyes in what I now understand is a state of sex-crazed euphoria. The young me just saw it as the acme of romantic glamour.
And when I went and found those commercials on YouTube just now (couldn’t you just die, how marvellous YouTube is?), they made me feel exactly as they did in 1973. Excitement mixed with yearning.
In fact they gave me exactly the same feeling I hope people will have when they reach the big kiss moment in one of my books… That’s exactly how I picture my unashamedly glamorous characters. And with the ads success they moved the formula on, until some of them became like short films.
So I now understand that not only did these Martini ads shape my ambitions for my own life – and I have scuba dived, power boated, been in a Formula One pit lane, stayed in a ski chalet, and taken a sea plane, so I’ve ticked off quite a few Martini lifestyle experiences – they also contributed enormously to my writing.
No wonder vermouth is my favourite drink. It is the right one.