Ava Gardner's Favorite Way To Drink Her Gin Of Choice, Beefeater

Ava Gardner was a silver-screen legend with a wild reputation and an unapologetic candor for life. The 1950s and '60s cinematic star was known for her timeless beauty, whip-smart wit, and famous capacity. Per the lore, Gardner was known to hang out with Ernest Hemingway at his favorite watering hole, El Floridita in Havana, and match him drink for drink (no small feat). She was also reportedly personal friends with Tennessee Williams, another famous drinker. Gardner acted in the film version of Williams' "Night of the Iguana" in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, directed by John Huston, a beachfront set on which both cast and crew were reportedly inebriated more often than not.

Still, don't get it twisted. Gardner may have been a reckless brand of bon vivant, but she was still downright discerning with her drinks. Gardner's preferred beverage was Beefeater gin served neat – her third husband Frank Sinatra only drank his favorite whiskey, Jack Daniel's, in a particular way too. Gardner and Sinatra's first date was a late-night drunken drive from Palm Springs to Indio after they ditched a party they were both attending to shoot out streetlights and store windows with .38 pistols that Sinatra kept in his glove compartment (iconic). "Neat" is also the way that fellow Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn drank her favorite Scotch, J&B Rare Blend.

Free-spirited and free with the spirits

The gastronomic habits of Hollywood's Golden Age stars are fascinating and surprisingly well-documented. Alfred Hitchcock even had a personal booth at Chasen's restaurant in Hollywood. Gardner's preferences veered more into the liquid realm. The actress was straightforward, at times reckless, and often barefoot with a penchant for late-night shenanigans and Spanish bullfighters. Allegedly, later in life, a thermos of Beefeater was a semi-permanent fixture in the backseat of Gardner's chauffeur's car. The gin also might have been the fuel behind such legendary tales as the time Gardner and fellow actress Grace Kelly hit the Paris brothel circuit and bought all the working women drinks.

Beefeater is the original London Dry Gin and, befitting of Miss Gardner, the ingredients of Beefeater read like a classic mid-20th century Hollywood perfume. The world's most awarded gin totes a clean flavor with bold pine and juniper notes and a citrus finish. In many ways, like Gardner, Beefeater is both floral and acidic, made from nine stills and nine botanicals (juniper, lemon peel, Seville orange peel, almond, angelica root, angelica seed, coriander seed, orris root, and licorice root). At the time when Gardener would have been enjoying it, Beefeater still toted a punchy 47% ABV (the gin rebranded to 44% in 2020). By 1963 — the same year Garner starred in "55 Days at Peking" – three out of every four bottles of gin imported to the U.S. were Beefeater.