Colin Peter Field is the world’s best barman. Forbes, Travel + Leisure, and FDTimes agree. He presides over the Bar Hemingway in Paris with an uncanny intuition as to what the customer might enjoy. He proposes the Clean Dirty Martini. You agree. Mr. Field retreats to a secret room behind the bar. He emerges with a glass chilled to -18 degrees. “You will understand that the recipe will have to remain a secret,” he confides. “A pure work of art, clear as crystal but with the embracing taste of delicious green and black olives.”
Beneath the surface, an olive is encased in ice that is infused with flavor. As it melts, the olive seems to hatch and the crystal clear liquid becomes more Blade-Runner foggy.
Secret rooms are the stuff of legends. Crustacean restaurant in Beverly Hills has a secret kitchen from which emerges their famous crab dish. Only family members are allowed in.
On Long Island, The Tiffen Company has a secret room where their famous filters are concocted. No amount of whining or plying the Tiffen family with secret Martinis in Paris will grant access.
Meanwhile, back in the Bar Hemingway, it’s good to recall “A Moveable Feast,” the memoir about Paris during the 1920s.
Hemingway wrote, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it.”
The magic is not just the secret room, the glass, the process. It’s also the presentation and the conversation. Colin Field presides mostly in front of the bar, moving from table to table. He engages in conversation and predicts the tastes of his clients. It’s instinctive. A “Poire Victoire” for the lady. A “Mach2” for the gentleman. He makes you feel welcome and part of the production—a contributor-conspirator, a crew member, not a band apart.
Cinematography is something like this, isn’t it? You bring something to it. You conjure up some magic, propose a path. Like Colin Field, you have an intuition as to the best glass to tell the story. And like the world’s best barman, you are articulate and engaging and it’s fun. “Perhaps a 24mm served up with a slight silky softening and roundness around the edges? Smooth and slightly warm with a subtle touch of backlight.”
“Yes, that sounds perfect,” the Director agrees. A Camera Assistant heads to the secret confines of the camera truck to prepare the glass.
In attendance at the Hemingway Bar for research on this article: representatives of Preston Cinema, Cooke Optics and Leica – CW Sonderoptic.