Food & Drink

The Bittersweet Joan Celebrates a Vicious Hollywood Rivalry

The Bittersweet Joan

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis only finished one movie together, but when you learn the tale of how savagely the two Golden Age legends abused each other, one was plenty. This month, FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan chronicles their shockingly bad behavior on the set of 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with Jessica Lange in the role of Crawford and Susan Sarandon playing Davis. To commemorate the Ryan Murphy-led project, we enlisted Ian Hardie of Huckleberry Bar in Brooklyn to create rival cocktails based on two women who may have been acting, but definitely weren’t playing.

Crawford was the glamour gal whose career spanned from silent film to talkies and culminated in a late-stage Oscar win. The Bittersweet Joan starts with Crawford’s favorite spirit, vodka (she was reputed to carry a flask, designer of course). Beyond being, well, bitter, Peychaud’s red hue is a tribute to her naturally red hair, as is the bitter crimson tinge of Aperol. Crawford’s glamorous persona is mixed into the drink’s profile via the sweet and refreshing falernum, which, whether she indulged in it or not, was a big part of the tiki craze sweeping the nation when she took the gaslit role of “Blanche”. To make things even more sweet and sour, Hardie incorporated ugli fruit -- Crawford’s favorite at a time when it was an even more exotic find than it is now. If you can't source one, use a combo of orange, tangerine, and grapefruit to achieve the same taste. 

Find Davis’s drink, The Bette Blue, here and learn to make Crawford’s below. Once you've mastered them, pour one of each and tune in to FX's Feud: Bette and Joan, premiering Sunday, March 5, at 10pm, with your best frenemy sitting beside you... because you don't dare turn your back on that monster. 

  • 1.5 ounces vodka
  • .5 ounces Aperol
  • .25 ounces velvet falernum
  • 2 ounces fresh ugli fruit juice
  • 3 dashes Peychauds bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish
  • Combine liquid ingredients in order over ice and shake well.
  • Garnish with orange peel and serve.
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