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Monday, 27 January 2014

Mexican Spitfire: The Actress, The Temptress, The Suicide... The Cocktail

Today's new cocktail is a tip of the glass to an exotic Hollywood star of old, Lupe Vélez.

Vélez had the distinction of being the first (or at least one of the very first) Mexican actresses to break into Hollywood. She was feisty from a young age, a deviant child sent to a convent at thirteen – which only made matters worse. By her late teens she showed a passion for the theater and vaudeville, and left Mexico to make her Hollywood silent-film debut in 1927. She transitioned to talkies and starred opposite the likes of Jimmy Durante, Gary Cooper, Lon Chaney, and Edward G. Robinson. Many films and a Broadway-stint later, she became as well-known for her exotic image on the screen as for her strong and passionate personality off it.

In the late 1930′s, she was making comedies, most notably as a fiery Mexican girl in the aptly named “The Girl From Mexico,” a role she reprised six more times in films named, “The Mexican Spitfire.” It was a fitting persona that revitalized her career and quickly became her nickname (though she apparently wasn’t happy about it).

On the other side of the camera, her life was just as torrid, including affairs with numerous co-stars (such as Gary Cooper - about whom she said 'he had the biggest member in Hollywood, but not the buttocks to use it'), a rocky marriage with “Tarzan” actor, Jonny Weissmuller, and an out-of-wedlock pregnancy with actor Harald Maresch. This was seemingly her reason for suicide. Vélez took her life and that of her unborn child on December 14th, 1944, and named Maresch as the father in her suicide note. She was 36 years old.

Displaying 2-lupe-velez-ca-early-1930s-everett.jpgIt’s the circumstances of her death that are even more controversial. The photos and files on her crime scene mysteriously disappeared, leading to a wealth of founded and unfounded gossip. On the positive end, the first story had her dying in a peaceful sleep in an expensive gown on her silk-covered bed after overdosing on Seconal sleeping pills. Sadly, the most prominent story was the rumour that she was found drowned in her own toilet (and vomit) – hardly a glamorous end for a Hollywood star. It was only last year – seventy years later – that a crime scene photo of a deceased Vélez was discovered and validated, showing her lying peacefully on the floor in a beautiful floral dress.

In remembrance of the lovely Miss Vélez – her talent, passion, and Hollywood suicide – we raise a glass with the “Mexican Spitfire.” It’s a tart, fiery strong, but fruity and refreshing mix of tequila blanco, fresh lime, pineapple juice, Green Chartreuse, and a touch of habanero pepper tincture (courtesy of Scrappy's Firewater).

1.5 oz tequila blanco

0.5 oz green chartreuse
0.75 oz pineapple juice
0.5 oz lime juice
dash Scrappy's Firewater (to taste)

Shake with ice, double strain. 

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