Best of Martinis in Pop Culture

We are all familiar with the famous James Bond Vesper martini (shaken, not stirred… what an abomination..), but the martini is a prominent beverage in pop culture even without the dashing British spy. Here are a list of my favorite martini drinks from television shows and films that I love (in no particular order).

Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development

Best Drinking Quotes from Lucille Bluth - Thrillist

We will forgive Lucille for choosing vodka for her martinis, because her drinking in Arrested Development was nothing short of iconic.

“Four saunas, three steam baths, Olympic-sized pool and you’re telling me there’s no alcohol? What the hell are we supposed to do for two days?”

Grace in Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie" The Earthquake (TV Episode 2015) - IMDb

Same goes for the other grandmother of my dreams, Grace.

‘I get a lot of help from my two Italian nutritionists… Martini and Rossi.’

Melanie in Sweet Home Alabama

Drunk Movie Moments | POPSUGAR Entertainment

A few too many martinis are what led to this classic scene in Sweet Home Alabama when Melanie went from New York to Deep South in 0.5 seconds.

‘I’ll have a grey goose martini, two olives, dirty.’

Mark and Jordan in The Wolf of Wall Street

Watch Matthew McConaughey's Wolf of Wall Street Banker Shaman Get ...

This is an iconic scene from The Wolf of Wall Street and arguably the last time Jordan Belfort is remotely normal.

‘Well, Hector here’s the game plan. You’re gonna bring us two Absolut martinis, you know how I like ’em, straight up. And then precisely seven and one half minutes after that you’re gonna bring us two more. And then two more after that every five minutes until one of us passes the fuck out.’

Are there any great ones that I missed?! What film introduced you to the beloved martini? Please comment below!

Post-Lockdown London Negroni Bucket List

Hi all!

If you live in London, you are probably aware that our lockdown restrictions on going to restaurants and bars are finally being relaxed this Saturday, July 4th. Now that being able to have some sense of normality is in reach, I’ve finally started to day dream again about all the bars and restaurants I want to go to pretty much the second it is allowed. In keeping with the negroni theme this week, I’ve whipped together a list of negronis around London that I cannot wait to try! So… in no particular order…

Negroni at Yauatcha City

The Coral Room, Great Russell Street

This one caught my interest for two reasons. 1.) They apparently use my favourite vermouth which is Cocchi Torino and 2.) They brand their ice cubes with the bar name! Very eye-catching.

Bar Termini, Old Compton Street

This Soho spot is described as a tribute to authentic Italian bar culture and offers four different types of negronis. Sign me up.

Frank’s Cafe, Peckham

I’ve actually been to Frank’s before, but it was pouring rain so we just popped up to the rooftop quickly to see the stunning views of the skyline. Apparently, these negronis are only £7, which paired with the views of the London skyline is an absolute bargain.

Duck & Waffle, Bishopsgate

I am definitely no stranger to Duck & Waffle, but because every visit I’ve made has been for a post-drinks sunrise breakfast, I can’t say I’ve tried their negronis! D&W serves a ‘Ristretto Negroni’ where they slow drip the drink through coffee beans for 24 hours before serving. Actually, this sounds like it would be great at a post-drinks sunrise breakfast!

Mele e Pere, Soho

This bar supposedly has the largest collection of vermouth in London (!!!) and their house negroni blends three different vermouths with the standard campari and gin. As a budding vermouth enthusiast, I MUST give this a try.

Have you been to any of these spots, or are you planning to go when they are open? Leave a comment below with your suggestions!

Sources of Inspiration:

The Standard

Time Out

Things I Do to Feel ‘Normal’

  • Wear makeup on the weekends
  • Get dressed before 5pm
  • Put on perfume
  • Have themed nights
  • Order food and drinks from restaurants
  • Sit in the park and people watch (at a social distance)
  • Paint my toenails
  • Go for long runs
  • Complain about my job
  • Find ways to laugh
  • Buy take away pints from pubs
  • Eat at the dinner table and not on my couch
  • Daydream and look forward to the future
  • Sit and feel the sun on my face
  • Allow myself to feel sad when I feel sad and angry when I feel angry
  • Celebrate my successes and those of my friends and family

Dressing Up to Stay In

I feel a certain degree of guilt constantly writing about coronavirus. We are all living it and watching it excessively on the news, so I’m guessing the last thing anyone wants to do is travel to the Gin and Beer It corner of the internet and inundate their brains with even more ‘corona content.’

However, being the host of a ‘lifestyle’ podcast and blog (I still haven’t decide if that term is too wanky for me or not), at some point I have to face the reality that this is currently life for all of us. For me personally, dwelling on the past that once was makes me feel sad, and the future feels far too uncertain. So – I’m left with now. The present. This super fucking bizarre ‘unprecedented’ time that has resulted in me having absolutely bonkers dreams because my brain has seemingly decided that reality is currently too strange for my normal suite of dreams.

Fancy Afternoon Tea at Home

Recently, I have started coming up with creative ways to take the things that I used to love doing outside of my home, and was looking forward to this year before they were all cancelled, and bring them home. Two weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had a fancy afternoon tea. We dressed up in our Royal Ascot garb (my boyfriend kept his top hat on just long enough for me to get it on Insta) and had a proper English afternoon tea with scones, finger sandwiches, and Victoria sponge cake. Cute? Yes. Delightful? Yes. Completely over the top? Absolutely. As cringe as it might have been to some people, and as sad as it might sound, I looked forward to that afternoon tea for an entire week. It gave me something to aspire to, and in the process I learned how to make homemade scones. Last weekend, we hosted a household luau. I ordered us cheap leis off Amazon and we had a Hawaiian themed barbecue, completely with Hawaiian macaroni salad and Mai Tais. It was a particularly hot day in London, and it felt quite exotic to play luau music and sip from a tiki mug.

Luau at Home

This might all sound horrible to you, and I get it. At the core of all of my cringe-y quarantine theme days, I’m just looking for escapism. I’m looking for anything that might make me forget, even briefly, that we are in this situation. So, if you are struggling with lockdown as I know so many of us are, I strongly recommend finding your own way to escape. If you love football, in the U.K. we can now exercise outside as much as we want. Go play! If you miss going out with the girls, have a Zoom disco where you all get dressed up, drink yourselves silly, and dance to the same tunes. I promise you, it only feels silly for the first 30 seconds, and then it actually just feels really nice and fun.

Have you found creative ways to pass the time at home? Please comment below to share, especially if you have ideas for how I can embarrass my boyfriend further!

To My Mom

“My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be. She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith. As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don’t know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her.”

-Gilmore Girls

I’ve always been a momma’s girl.

Since I was a little girl, I have worshipped my mom. My mother is a nurse, a cancer survivor, a mother of three, a style icon through the decades, my best friend and my biggest supporter. She managed to pivot her career as a nurse into a career as a leader in healthcare supply chain consulting, but she can also sew a children’s Halloween costume at a moment’s notice and make a gourmet meal from cupboard scraps. With my mom around I always feel safe and as though no matter how uncertain things can feel, everything will be okay. I think many people would say their parents make them feel safe, but anyone who has ever met my mom would say there is something special about her. In the most trying of times, especially now throughout the coronavirus crisis, she has a way of bringing comfort and reason to anyone who is in need.

I always knew my mother was a hero, but the gravity of my respect for my mom increased when I became the age she was when she had me. My mom was within days of her 24th birthday when she gave birth to me in August of 1994. She took her nursing final exams when she was 7 months pregnant with me, and walked the stage at graduation with me under her gown! As I hurdle towards the age of 26, admittedly still completely unsure of who I am or where my place is in this world, I can’t believe that at this age my mom was chasing around a two year old. To be honest, I can’t even fathom how my mom was working 12-16 hour days as a psychiatric nurse at the age of 26, let alone doing that and then coming home to a toddler. It is incredibly humbling whenever I feel overwhelmed by my own responsibilities to think about the fact that, as of right now, I only have to worry about myself. In my whole childhood, even when things must have been impossibly difficult, my mom never complained or made me feel like anything she did for me was her own sacrifice.

The crazy thing is that all of the sacrifices that my mom made, she made so that I wouldn’t have to. She worked endless shifts to pay off her student loans so that I wouldn’t have so many. She sacrificed her own time and sanity so that she would never miss a Girl Scout meeting or a volleyball game. She traveled non-stop for work so that our family could afford to see the world, a privilege that ultimately inspired me to move abroad. That must be the most heartbreaking irony of motherhood: the reward that my mom gets for doing such an incredible job is me moving halfway across the world to chase my dreams. Everything I do is to make my mom proud, but I know she’d be just as proud of me if I was back home and stopping by for dinner once a week.

My mom has set the bar for being a strong woman incredibly high. She can make a Thanksgiving dinner with twelve separate dishes and somehow they all manage to be served out of the oven and warm at the same time. If you have ever cooked for more than two people, you know this is sorcery. She can get the most stubborn of stains out of clothes. She somehow managed to raise me to never be afraid to tell her the truth, which meant I never felt like I had to lie. I don’t know when I’ll be a mom and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever be half that mom she is. But, whether it’s during the times of a pandemic crisis or personal heartbreak, I know that as long as my mom is around that I always have someone I can call crying and somehow hang up laughing.

There is absolutely no chance I will ever be able to repay or even thank my mom for everything that she has done and continues to do for me every single day, even from thousands of miles away. So for now, until I can figure it out, I will just tell my mom thank you, I love you, please live to be at least 102, and I can’t wait to see you soon.

Staying Home Away From Home

Right now, all of us are doing our best to #StayAtHome, but for some of us, the home we stay in might not be our own. We are now in Week 5 of our coronavirus reality, and I can genuinely say that experiencing this global crisis across the world from my family has been the biggest challenge that I have ever faced in my life.

I’m no stranger to homesickness. When you’ve lived as far away from home as I do for as long as I have, you learn to spot the waves of homesickness when they are still out on the horizon, and for the most part let them wash over you without knocking you down. However, there is a difference between longing for home and being homesick for a place that, at the present moment, does not exist. I could get on a plane to Chicago right now, but it still wouldn’t change the fact that I won’t be able to hug my grandma, to go to a White Sox game, or to drink martinis until midnight at our favorite Italian restaurant. Still – what I would not give to be at home with my family, playing board games and watching The Birdcage and all of our other favorite ‘feel-good’ films. Quarantine would be nicer with my mom’s homemade mac and cheese and my dad’s Manhattans. What I wouldn’t give to spend the days inside teaching my baby sisters how to do their makeup, and letting them teach me how to record TikTok’s.

Currently, I am quarantined at my boyfriend’s family’s home in Lincolnshire. There’s not been a moment being here that I haven’t felt so incredibly grateful both to this family for taking me in, and to the universe for bringing them into my life at just the right time. When I think back to my life a year ago, whilst I loved my little ‘Bridget Jones’ flat, I genuinely don’t think I would have survived being quarantined there alone. Being here means having a garden to run around, dogs to walk, and a family to laugh with – all things that make a massive difference to my mental health during such challenging times. Still – nothing about this crisis comes without challenges. 

For starters, I am an extremely emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I cry. I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I laugh, and recently I have been crying a lot for no reason. I’m not particularly ashamed of this aspect of my personality… it’s who I am! However, it’s not something that I like to put on display for just anyone, and especially not my ‘in-law’s.’ I’d prefer that they see me as my normal, bubbly, and extremely grateful self, and I try to keep the mental breakdowns to a minimum. However, after weeks of doing this I have definitely noticed feelings of bottling up. I started losing the ability to be my usual outgoing self, and found myself spending family meals appearing incredibly quiet and anti-social. This is the ultimate burden of an extrovert: if you have branded yourself as a person who is always chatty and sociable, people take immediate concern the minute you become more shy or reserved.

It all came to a head about a week ago when I FaceTimed my parents and my mom took one look at me and said, ‘Okay, honey. That’s the sad Megan face. Why don’t you go ahead and cry… I’m guessing you haven’t been able to cry in awhile.’ What followed was an absolutely tsunami of emotions. I literally sat on FaceTime bawling my eyes out while my parents consoled me for at least an hour, and to be honest it was incredibly cathartic. There is something about crying in front of your parents as an adult that immediately makes you feel like a child again. In that moment, I swear if you had held a mirror up to me I would have seen a 6 year old, gap-toothed Megan. While it’s not the most mature feeling, it’s incredibly comforting. I was able to express all of the emotions I had been bottling up in an attempt to appear like the calmest, most collected girlfriend in the world, and by the end of the call I felt like I had gotten it all out.

So, whether you’re staying with your family or with someone else’s, if you feel like you have been putting on a brave face for too long and it’s starting to take a physical and emotional toll, I encourage you to find a way to let it out. Pick up the phone and call someone who you are comfortable being emotional with. WRITE! Watch The Notebook or Steel Magnolias or any film that will help you do some crying if that’s your thing. The reality is that we are all experiencing trauma right now. Everyone’s trauma looks a bit different, just as everyone’s means of coping will as well. However it may be manifesting itself for you, just know that you are not alone and you are not weak if you need to take time to break down every once in awhile. Knowing when to let yourself breakdown is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign that you are still fighting to be strong.

Things That Are Not Cancelled

  • Having dirty feet from running around the backyard barefoot
  • Laughing (albeit virtually) till you cry with your family
  • Tea and biscuits under a gigantic duvet
  • Watching crap reality tv shows until 2AM
  • Birds chirping to announce spring 
  • Rainstorms against the window
  • Overly competitive family board games
  • Red wine and a piece of dark chocolate
  • Being moved to tears by an advert for dish soap or laundry detergent
  • Sending your friends endless memes
  • The smell of coffee in the morning
  • Golden hour and knowing the days are getting longer
  • The first feeling of sun beating on your face like a gigantic warm hug
  • The feeling of swapping out chunky winter clothes for light, breezy spring ones
  • Dancing around your house to your favorite song 
  • Eating peanut butter straight from the jar
  • The tinge of nostalgia after hours of looking through old photos
  • Eating cold pizza whilst standing in front of the fridge
  • Laughing hysterically at an old episode of Friends
  • Becoming obsessed with a new podcast/tv show/book/film
  • Seeing a photo of a cute baby or dog
  • Finding a piece of clothing in the back of your closet that you forgot you loved
  • The joy of finishing a workout 
  • The feeling after you successfully cook a new recipe
  • The warm fuzzy feeling of doing something kind for someone else
  • Giving love and being loved in return

Expressing Myself Through Fashion During Quarantine

If there is one extremely first-world and trivial struggle that I have encountered as a result of #COVID19, it is finding a way to express myself through fashion as a person who A.) loves to show off outfits out in public and on social media and B.) hates anything relating to ‘leisure-wear.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love a pair of trackies and a baggy jumper, but they have a time and a place, and in general if I’m not sick or hungover I’m not interested. After four weeks, I am now absolutely desperate to get dolled up and put on a pair of heels, so much so that I am contemplating doing it just to go to my living room, or perhaps for my next Zoom call.

Image may contain: 1 person
The Bahamas, 2003

As you can see, fashion has always been an important part of my personality. For as long as I can remember, I have used clothes, jewelry, shoes, hairstyles, purses, etc. as a way of expressing who I am and whatever phase I might be going through at the minute. As I have grown older and become financially independent, my affinity for all things fashion has only grown. So, you can imagine my sheer horror in March when it became clear that we all needed to start staying indoors as a matter of life or death.

Paris, 2020

This horror was amplified when I realised that I had only just invested in my first pair of Jimmy Choo’s, a gorgeous pair of ballet pink pumps that will now not see the light of day until further notice. I buy clothes to wear, not collect dust, and the idea of spending every single day in old marathon finisher shirts and leggings with holes in them makes me feel dead inside. I find myself spending hours of my newly found ‘free-time’ at home perusing Silk Fred, TopShop, ASOS, and every other website I could think of. My wishlist on each of these website is astromical, but the risk to my bank account and more importantly to delivery drivers forced to deliver non-essentials has kept me from actually purchasing anything.

Image may contain: Megan Czajka, standing
London, 2020

So, how do I cope with my primal need to express myself through fashion when I’ll ultimately be all dressed up with nowhere to go, AND my chosen form of therapy (retail) is largely unavailable? I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, and I finally had an epiphany. While I love fashion and clothes, and I also will never turn down an outfit related compliment, I’ve realised over the course of quarantine that my love for fashion does not actually come from a need to be seen or complimented. While obviously in an ideal world I prefer to get dressed up AND go out (I am a restless extrovert, after all), when forced to stay inside I’ve found that wearing clothes and makeup that make me feel inspired help to make me feel more like me. Truthfully, this makes a lot of sense. I have a small handful of followers on Instagram, and I can count on one hand the number of times in my life I’ve been complimented in public on my fashion choices. If external validation was really my motivator for looking my best, I don’t think I’d have much motivation at all.

This is probably the least earth-shattering thing that you’ve read whilst in quarantine, but I think it’s important because, in a way, I finally feel like I might actually gain something from this miserable time. My self-imposed embargo on ordering clothes online means that I can actually take time to slow down and appreciate the clothes that I already have. I might actually finally have time to create new outfits from my existing wardrobe and refresh my wardrobe without spending a penny! Additionally, dressing up for no one but myself is a helpful way of distinguishing one day from the next and maintaining my confidence and self-expression in an otherwise extremely BLAH phase of my life.

So, if you are also someone who gets an immense about of joy from buying, styling, and wearing clothes, I implore you to not let quarantine get you down. Of course, I will be and am spending most of my days in leggings and t-shirts (and if you are someone who is relishing in the chance to pack away your work attire until further notice, I totally understand)… but where you feel inspired to put some effort in, DO! As soon as I am back in my flat in London, I plan on putting on my Jimmy Choo’s and a cute pair of jeans and strutting all over my flat (thank goodness we live on the ground floor). Royal Ascot, one of my favorite fashionable events of the British summertime, has been cancelled and will likely be held behind closed doors. I already plan on hosting some sort of Royal Ascot themed barbecue and wearing the dress I had (obviously) already picked out. If we all flex our creative muscles, we can find ways to dress up and stay in. Everything might be different now, but not everything has to go away. There will always be a way to Vogue.

London, 2020

Oooh La La La La La Let’s Live in the Moment

If there is anything quarantining has taught me, it is how much I used ‘looking forward’ as a way of coping with the daily mundane before all of this weirdness began. To clarify, right now I would pay a ridiculous sum of money just to experience what I thought was ‘mundane’ about pre-coronavirus life. But, before I had all of the perspective that this experience has already given me, I definitely lived my life looking forward. The idea of curling up on my couch with a tasty snack and indulging in Netflix motivated me to get out of bed at 6AM and head to the gym. The idea of a gigantic plate of carbs and an ice cold beer got me through a long marathon training run. The idea of setting my Out of Office and traveling abroad got me through long work days. Now, the vast majority of things that I used to fixate on in order to push myself through less desirable activities are cancelled or massively on hold.

After two weeks of this ‘new normal,’ I’ve found it quite interesting how I’ve already begun to fill those gaps. The sensible mentality would be to stop looking to the future as a crutch to get me through the present, but instead learn to enjoy the present. I’m not quite there yet, and I find my brain desperately searching for things to look forward to. While I no longer had a weekend in Madrid to look forward to last weekend, my brain eagerly anticipated drinking a few beers and playing board games with family. During the week, I’m finding it hysterical how much I look forward to a shower. Before the coronavirus crisis, I only really looked forward to a shower after a hard workout or to warm up after being in the cold. All other times, it was just something I needed to get done every day. Now, I relish my daily shower as a time to myself to wash off the previous day and feel new, in a period where it is exceedingly difficult to distinguish one day from the next.

I think many of us are wondering what each of us as individuals, as well as the entire world, will look like after this is all over. Obviously, our hairstyles and economy will be in need of some serious TLC, but I wonder what will change about how we live. For as much as I used to resent the cliche idea of ‘being present,’ I’m hoping that a positive byproduct of all of this suffering is that I finally learn how to just be in whatever moment I have to be in without relying on what could be coming next. It would bring me so much peace if I could get to a point where I am able to enjoy the little things as they come along, and conversely not feel so utterly heartbroken when the future doesn’t work out exactly as I intended. Of course when this is all over I will still look forward to holidays and going to the pub after work, but I hope to be more emotionally equipped to appreciate now for what it is and accept the uncertainty that the future will inevitably hold. Like I said, I’m definitely not there yet, but we are only two weeks into quarantine! Who knows what the future will bring… until then I am going to take a very nice, long shower.

The Quarantine Diaries

How are you?

I’m struggling. I feel like I’ve been writing this in my head for the past four days, but things have changed so drastically every single day that what was in my head and my heart a few days ago is already massively outdated.

Personally, I feel miles behind the positivity and optimism that I am seeing on social media. I have nothing but admiration for the people who have already used the pain to create good, whether that be through volunteering or expressing themselves creatively online. I’m not there yet – but I want to be and I’m going to try.

My boyfriend and I were walking around in what is already a post-apocalyptic south London yesterday and thinking about what these next few weeks were going to be like before this all unfolded. We were going to spend this weekend welcoming Harry’s parents home from there trip to Barbados and celebrating Mother’s Day with his mum. Next weekend, we were going to go to Madrid to get some sun and celebrate the end of the project I’ve been working on for the past 9 months. In less than two months, we were meant to fly to America for a two week holiday to Chicago, New York, and Walt Disney World that we’d been saving for for nearly a year. By all accounts, the next few months were meant to be the beginning of what was going to be a really incredible year.

In reality, we have both been working from home for nearly a week. I’m required to work from home for at least four weeks… and whispers are saying it could be 12 or more. Our trip to Madrid is cancelled, and we can only feel fortunate. We were able to get refunded in travel vouchers, whereas so many others have not been so lucky. We have spent the entire afternoon debating whether we should stay in London or flee to Harry’s parents’ home. After 40 tube stations in London were closed this morning, it is abundantly clear that a military enforced lockdown is imminent. I spent last week stressing that our hard earned trip to Disney World would be cancelled. Now, my fantasies of taking Harry to The Happiest Place on Earth are a distant memory. All I can think about now is that I have absolutely no idea when I will see my family in America again. I am not included in the travel ban as I am a U.S. citizen, but flights are dwindling and I have even read reports that Heathrow is in danger of closing. I visited my doctor yesterday, and she told me the next time I am due for an appointment the office might be permanently closed.

My suffering is an absolute blip on the radar of humanity compared to others. One of my friends had to cancel his wedding yesterday. Another one of my friends has been in lockdown in Hong Kong for two months, only getting to leave her flat once a week for groceries. I am lucky to work for a company with paid sick leave that is able to maintain a semblance of our operations during this time. Numerous friends and family members have no source of income for the foreseeable future. I find myself in a constant state of fear. I am afraid for myself, I’m afraid for everyone else. I’m afraid of how long it will go on. I’m afraid of the mental health implications. I’m afraid of how things will continue to get worse, I’m afraid of what things will look like when this is over.

In spite of it all, I can see the good. Family members that I don’t speak to regularly have downloaded WhatsApp to check in on me. Colleagues with a historically stiff upper lip are softening and expressing concern. I’m not the beam of positive light that I’d like to be right now, but I’m taking baby steps. I start Roaccutane treatment for acne tomorrow, and if all the doomsday predictions are correct, that means by the time we are let out of the house my skin will be positively glowing!

I hope wherever you are in the world, you’re doing okay. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you feel like you are struggling, just know that you are not alone! I hope that with time we will all adjust to this new normal and become stronger as a result. I am inspired by the positivity and altruism of those around me (not physically around me because… social distancing), but I think we are all going to have good and bad days in this, so try not to beat yourself up if you’ve got the blues or the mean reds.

Sending love to you all…