>> Thursday, August 6, 2009
“You arouse the artist in me,” Jake the bartender (Edgar Kennedy) proclaims upon hearing that customer, Harold Diddlebock (Harold Lloyd) has “never partaken” of alcoholic refreshment in The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947). What follows is indeed artistry, as Jake invents a new cocktail on the spot, asking personal questions of the intended recipient to insure that the customer will find the flavor perfectly pleasing. Here’s a taste of that conversation:
JAKE: Now, tell me Mr. Diddlebeck, uh bock; where were you born?
DIDDLEBOCK: Uh, what? Nebraska.
JAKE: Corn! And in what year, please?
DIDDLEBOCK: Nineteen Hundred and One.
JAKE: Fine, fine! They distilled some very palatable stuff in Nineteen Hundred and One. Now let me see, let me see. Ha. (He reaches under the counter and pulls out a dusty jug) I wouldn’t do this for everybody.
After adding the “corn,” Jake throws in several other ingredients, muttering about “Nineteen Hundred and One” and all that it means. He then stops to ask…
JAKE: Now just a couple of technical questions. Would you like it frappé or flambé?
JAKE: Do you like ice skating or Turkish baths?
DIDDLEBOCK: I used to skate a little.
JAKE: Frappé! (Jake packs some crushed ice around a small glass) Frappé. Now, would you like it sweet or sharp?
DIDDLEBOCK: I don’t really…
JAKE: How do you take your coffee?
DIDDLEBOCK: I, uh, take milk.
JAKE: You’ve answered my question. (He adds another ingredient) You prefer showers or sits baths?
DIDDLEBOCK: Well, we have a shower over the tub, but there’s always the danger of stepping on the soap.
JAKE: With vodka you don’t care what you step on.
After some protests from the customer, Jake promises just one final question…
JAKE: Do you prefer the taste of rosemary or wormwood?
DIDDLEBOCK: Who or who?
JAKE: Do you like Benedictine or absinthe?
JAKE: What kind of toothpaste do ya use?
JAKE: I gotcha.
After adding the final ingredient, Jake presents the drink in the small glass inside a tube of crushed ice. “Gentlemen, ‘The Diddlebock’,” he pronounces proudly.
The drink proves to be deceptively mild. As Jake opines, “It has always seemed to me that the cocktail should approach us on tiptoe, like a young girl whose first appeal is innocence.”
That sounds good to me. Unfortunately I’ll have to settle for the sound of it, because reproducing “The Diddlebock” at home is simply impossible. Like many artists, Jake is secretive regarding his methods, and he does not share all of the cocktail’s ingredients with the audience.