Walk out the door in the morning, you’re mixed up in something. Only thing that matters, if you’re mixed up to the top or not.

Don Cheadle and Denzel Washington

Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

Author Walter Mosley was honored this past weekend at the National Black Writers’ Conference in New York City. What better time to watch the film version of one of his most popular novels, Devil in a Blue Dress?

Denzel Washington plays Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, a recently fired factory worker who’s desperate for money to keep up his mortgage payments. He takes a seemingly simple job – locating a missing girl – from a shady character in a bar, but it quickly turns in a tangled web of deceit and blackmail. He gets beat up by cops, framed for multiple murders, and gets his house broken in to, all in the span of a day or so. He finally finds the girl, Daphne Monet, but she’s got ulterior motives and freaks out and abandons him when they happen across a dead guy.

Finally realizing that no one is who or what they say they are, and that he’s a bit over his head, Easy enlists the help of his trigger-happy friend Mouse, played by the scene-stealing Don Cheadle. Together, they follow up on various leads, uncover some incriminating photographs that everyone’s been after, and engage in a final shootout with the bad guys and end up saving the girl.

Don Cheadle

I’m not sure why everybody keeps enlisting Easy’s help… does he give off some sort of vibe that says “I’m good at finding missing people”? In fact, Daphne is the one that actually reaches out to him after he gets the word out that he’s looking for her. At any rate, he transitions easily from regular guy to hard-boiled detective, knowing just what to say and do to keep from ending up as the fall guy in this whole mess, and making a nice little profit for himself by doing so.

Strong dialogue, fast-moving storyline, sexy, sultry, dirty, gritty… what more could you ask for?

Cocktail #1: Half Sinner, Half Saint

Everybody’s got their demons. Easy starts out clean, although he can’t help but get a little dirty from playing in the mud. Mouse is pretty much a cold blooded killer, but he’ll do anything to help a friend. Daphne dabbles in blackmail, but she’s just a dreamer who fell in love with the wrong guy. And the politicians… obviously corrupt, but good at keeping up a facade. Half sinner, half saint. Adapted from Cocktail Virgin.

  • 2 oz dry vermouth
  • 2 oz sweet vermouth
  • absinthe rinse
  • garnish: orange peel

Stir sweet and dry vermouth in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into an absinthe-rinsed coupe glass and add garnish.

cocktail ingredients

UPDATE 04/08/14: I tried making this drink the way the recipe originally dictates, which is a full barspoon of absinthe layered on top of the vermouth mixture. It creates a cool looking effect which you can see in the photo above, perhaps to emulate the distinction between heaven and hell? Or is it supposed to represent an angel’s halo? Who knows. It looks neat but has wayyy too much anise flavor up front for me. To each his own I guess.

Cocktail #2: Bramble

Daphne Monet, the titular character, is first seen in a pale blue dress with a thigh-high slit, and later in a darker blue number with decorative swirls across the collar. I guess blue really is her color.

Jennifer Beals

As I’m a bit wary of blue curaçao as a cocktail ingredient (never had a night end well while drinking it), I decided to try my hand at the Bramble instead. It’s got a nice purplish hue – that’s close enough to blue, right? Perfect summer drink, especially with some fresh blackberries if you got ’em. Adapted from Chow.com.

  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 6 large blackberries
  • 1 oz Chambord
  • 1 & 1/2 oz gin

Muddle lime juice and blackberries in an empty cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and remaining ingredients. Strain into a coupe glass. As always, I like mine with some extra fruit floating around in there 🙂

I also made a version with creme de cassis instead of Chambord, and it’s a interesting twist if you like a deeper, more syrupy texture. My official taste tester preferred the creme de cassis, but I’m digging the lime & Chambord flavor. Try it and see what you think!


“If you ain’t want him killed, why’d you leave him with me?”