It is day two of our Virtual Book Club where we are featuring the book “Murder on the Orient Express” and today we are focusing on a culinary treat inspired from the book. My special treat for you is ‘on the rocks cocktails’ inspired by the Orient Express and the 1930’s.

The Virtual Book Club banner

I thought this would tie in nicely with my mirror and bar inspiration I shared on Thursday. If you didn’t see that post just click here.

Art deco mirror on bar inspired by the Orient Express

You may be saying hey, hold on culinary is cooking, not drinking. You are correct, but did you know that

“Mixology and craft cocktails are currently two of the hottest trends in the restaurant industry. The bar is being treated as an additional kitchen, and mixologists are viewing cocktails as culinary menu items. Focus is being placed on seasonal offerings and planning a cocktail menu based on what are the best tasting ingredients at the moment.”

I learned this from You can learn more by clicking this link, it is actually quite interesting.

So what does “on the rocks” mean?

I am not knowledgeable about cocktail making so this was a learning process. “On the rocks” means serving an alcoholic beverage in a cocktail glass with ice. Adding ice to a drink affects a drink primarily by keeping it cold and slightly diluting it over time.

I have to tell you that the slightly diluting part, caused me to go from not really liking the drink I am sharing with you today to liking it. I have never had cognac before and when I mixed the drink, first I did not enjoy the smell as it had caramel undertones, which I am not a fan of. Then my first sip was way too strong. I was disappointed because this drink was recommended straight from the Orient Express. Anyhow about 10 minutes later I tried it again and because the ice had melted a bit, the flavour was actually really nice. I made one for my husband and he really liked it so I can fully recommend it.

So tip of the day, if you don’t like hard alcohol, let the ice do it’s work for a while lol!

What were the cocktail customs on the Orient Express?

Champagne, Veuve Clicquot, was served generously but a cocktail before bed was also common. In my research, I found that they served a variety of drinks ‘on the rocks’. Cognac was the first to make an appearance, then brandy. Later, the Mint Julep (cognac, mint and sugar) was the favorite. After that Sazerac was popular (cognac and absinthe). Lastly, the Side-Car (Cointreau, cognac and lemon juice) was favored. Unfortunately I could not find a photo of a side-car with ice cubes that wasn’t copyrighted, so I chose this one instead.

So let’s make an Orient Express inspired cocktail!


  • 40 ml of Hennessy Very Special cognac
  • 100 ml of ginger ale
  • Lime slice
  • Slice of ginger
  • Minimum 12 oz glass

Pour the cognac into a minimum 12 oz glass (try to find a glass that is art deco in style). Add ice cubes up to the rim. Pour the ginger ale in. Garnish with a lime slice or slices of fresh ginger.

As you will see in my photo of the drink I prepared, I used both a lime slice and a ginger slice and layered them. Look how pretty it looks.

On the rocks cocktails inspired by the Orient Express

For me, it was best to let sit for around 10 minutes to let the flavours mellow and the ice to dilute it a bit. Then enjoy!

Let’s explore some Orient Express inspired barware I found

I don’t really have much in the way of barware so I had to hit up the thrift stores and what fun I had. I thought it would be fun to share with you the pieces I found.

At the time that Murder on the Orient Express was set (1934), it was the era of art deco design. While I could not afford true art deco pieces, I specifically looked for pieces that were angular, glass, gold, black, silver, brass, and similar to what I saw in old photos.

Decanters on mirrored tray with art deco mirror in background
Gold ice bucket with gold candlesticks in front of art deco mirror

Left photo: I found a variety of decanter bottles along with this round art deco-inspired mirrored tray at a thrift store for between $7 and $10 each. I noticed in old photos that they often had a variety of decanters on the counter of the bar and on the shelves in the background.

Right photo: In this photo, look for the gold ice bucket in the background. I was thrilled to find this classy looking ice bucket and coupled it with some gold-trimmed champagne flutes because the train travellers onboard the Orient Express would have enjoyed a daily glass of champagne. I also noticed that they had trays of pastries or nuts to snack on so I added a few to complete the photo.

Silver glasses surrounding silver ice bucket in front of art deco mirror
Art deco martini shaker with six goblets on a silver tray

Left photo: I felt this simple silver ice bucket and glass set was similar to one I found in the background of photos from the movie. I also found this at a thrift store and couldn’t believe what good shape it was in. The vase is a true antique that my mother-in-law gave me.

Right photo: This is something my mom gave me. Funny story I thought the tall spouted vessel was for tea or coffee but I could not figure out why they would pour it into goblets. I know what you are thinking, I am not too smart. After, a little digging on etsy, I found a photo of a similar set and it described the set as an art deco martini shaker with goblets and tray. I don’t necessarily think it is art deco but it sure is pretty and I felt it fit in well on the shelving unit.

In summary…

Exploring the design, customs, and beverages of 1934 on the Orient Express was a delight. As I said, I do enjoy murder mysteries and “Murder on the Orient Express” was wonderful to read with it’s quirky characters and luxurious setting. I also liked the ending as the family of poor little Daisy had some closure to ensure no other child suffered as Daisy had.

Virtual book club bloggers

Participating in this virtual book club has also been so much fun as I loved seeing Lynn, Cindy and Erin’s inspirational take on the book. I cannot wait to see what they do for the culinary side of things!

Make sure to stop by and check out each lady’s post – I have provided links below, just click on the title of their projects.

Lynn, Living Large in a Small House

Cindy, Reinvented Delaware

Erin, Erin Evolving

Lobster dinner set on a white linen table cloth with crystal goblets
Argula pecan pear salad
Orient Express dessert buffet

What is up next on the Virtual Book Club?

I am so glad you asked! Next we are covering “Emma” by Jane Austen. This book follows the high-spirited but slightly spoiled Emma in the small village of Highbury where she meddles and attempts to match-make the single residents. I cannot wait to bring this novel to life in my own home and I hope you will come back to see what I and the other ladies create!

Cover of the book Emma

As always, thank you for opening my emails and clicking on the links to read my posts. I appreciate it greatly and would love to hear from you – so please leave a message below!

What do you think?

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  • Susan Chapman Sikes
    January 28, 2023

    I love the way all of you put together ideas that go so well with the books. I’m looking forward to the next one.

    • Crystal
      January 29, 2023

      Thank you so very much Susan! It has been fun and I think we will get better as we go along so I am excited to see our progress!

  • Lynn
    January 28, 2023

    Oh my Goodness! The cool things that you found!

    I’m so glad to have you on this journey with me! The research and digging into the era were something we both really enjoyed! I can’t wait for next month!

    • Crystal
      January 29, 2023

      Thank you so very much Lynn! I love to do research and I am a history junkie so this has been a pleasure. I am thrilled that you invited me along on this collaboration!

  • Cindy
    January 30, 2023

    Thanks for the tip about letting the ice do the work on hard liquor Crystal. I’m mostly a wine drinker and that’s not too often. So I’m completely inexperienced with mixology! Love the pieces you found while out thrifting! I’m looking forward to our next book! Pinning!

    • Crystal
      February 23, 2023

      Thanks so much Cindy! I don’t have any experience with mixology either so we are two peas in a pod! Thanks for pinning!