Welcome to Issue No. 50

FRIDAY  /  MAY 07, 2021

The gratification of a handwritten letter


Once upon a time, before the global network of connectivity ensnared us, people used to write letters. The practice now seems antiquated and inefficient, and stamps and stationary have become relics of a prehistoric age. Why take the time to hand write a note, place it in the post box, and wait days for it to reach its target, when you can quickly compose a message and send it off with just a few taps on a screen? A text or email is swift and provides instant gratification. But that gratification is fleeting. It disappears as soon as the next message arrives.

The act of putting pen to paper is much more than just a method of communication. Handwriting a letter is meditation. It forces the mind to focus. There’s no autocorrect to quickly fix typos. No copy and paste feature to fill in the words. No menu of emojis to communicate feelings. It’s an act that demands concentration and dedication. It requires effort, and that effort is a gift to the writer.

It’s also a gift to the recipient. Unlike a text or email, a handwritten note is a tangible object. The paper, the ink, the stamp, all reflections of the personality of the sender. It’s a memento to be treasured, not quickly deleted, or slowly demoted to bottom of your inbox. It should be valued as a reminder of someone’s consideration and attention.

Most of the time I fall prey to the temptation of sending a quick text or email. And of course some communications require speed. But for certain occasions I force myself to pull out the stationary, grab the fountain pen, and focus my thoughts. Sometimes the occasion is simply to remind someone I value their friendship, or to thank them for a kindness they’ve shown me.

The blank page is always intimidating, but eventually the words begin to flow, and my thoughts become squiggles of ink slowly drying on a thick rectangle of blue card stock. It’s not the fastest or most efficient way to convey those thoughts, but it is one of the most rewarding.

The original pre-mix

I vaguely remember the first time I ever laid eyes on the iconic triangular bottle with the mesmerizing, bright red liquid. I cannot have been more than a handful years old, and it was during one of our trips to Italy. My grandmother was very fond of this bitter drink, and being the ignorant little toddler that I was, I have a memory, stealing her bottle from the table and inhaling a solid swig… Now, luckily the mind has an ability to displace pain – which is probably what my taste buds would have felt at that point. This was my first encounter with Campari Soda, and it burned itself severely into my memory.

Now, mixing a cocktail is a craft – no doubt! Bartenders around the world have their own personal take, shake, etc.; and in various households the host mixes his signature drinks with great pride. With this in mind, I am sure there are many purists who are frowning and doubting the constantly growing number of pre-mixes – and I can understand why; they used to be pretty bad.

Today though, they seem to be everywhere, for your convenience, and (luckily) the quality has risen to the occasion; premium selected liquors, mixed by top bartenders, even being aged on casks. But this is not a new invention; the first-ever pre-mix you ask? Enter the previously mention triangular bottle – the Campari Soda dates back to 1932 and is considered the first RTD (ready-to-drink) in history.

Since day one, the Campari company has been breaking norms and conventions, e.g. using art as the cornerstone in their visual identity. So, it was given that the first RTD had to be special, in line with the rest of the company’s visual expression. The Iconic triangular bottle was the answer, designed by the Italian futurist Fortunato Depero. In Italy it is, and was, everywhere. In the years after its introduction, Campari even set up special vending machines around public places – again a stroke of genius boosting the popularity nationwide.

I am a huge advocate of mixing your own drinks, as I believe the personal touch is as huge part of the experience; I enjoy mixing my own Campari soda, but in this case, I enjoy the original even more.

Dressing the man


If you want to know what a man is thinking, to which school of thought he attends, just look at what he’s wearing. Like the school uniform of his youth, the stripes on his tie (or perhaps lack of a tie altogether) will reveal the professors under which he learns his way in life. Only the foolish would think that education stops at school.

Does the man study with Steve McQueen on Sundays? The reflection off his Persols will tell you that before he does.
Does he aspire to drink an Old Fashioned, (or several) with Don Draper in the evenings? His narrow lapels are an ad campaign for that way of life. Is Daniel Craig his favourite Bond? Then his choice of swim shorts will reveal more of his manhood than the shorts themselves. Perhaps Connery is his favourite teacher in the field of espionage? His grenadine tie will give him away better than his choice of wine with fish.

Clothes are the bottle we pour ourselves into each morning. Whilst we might struggle to turn water into wine or change the vintage, we can change the label on the bottle simply by changing our jacket. Those looking over at our table drink-in the label and not the wine. It’s foolish to be dismissive about the importance of clothes. Given the obvious risk of deception, either via false advertisement or espionage, some feel that clothes don’t matter.

“Clothes don’t make the man” might be their argument and that’s true – a man isn’t a gentleman because he wears a suit and tie. One can safely assume however that every man choosing to don a suit and tie at least aspires to be a gentleman. Choose to judge a man by what he does and not what he says? The word “dress” is a verb. Clothes much less conceal our private parts but rather reveal them.
It was the fig leaf he was wearing after all that gave Adam away.

Enjoy our new playlist

📚 The Gent's Library brings you a few of our favorite Coffee Table Books, selected by the Gents Cafe's team and community.

This week, the latest additions are:

Vintage Rolex: The Largest Collection in the World - Published to celebrate The Vintage Watch Company's 25th anniversary in 2020, the book contains a unique pictorial collection of vintage Rolex watches that have passed through the shop during the past 25 years.

Ultimate Collector Cars - For the seasoned car collector or the awestruck newcomer, this double-volume is the unrivaled collector car anthology. Curating 100 of the most exquisite, remarkable, and desirable cars of all time to tell a spellbinding story of automotive design-and-engineering endeavor in the tireless pursuit of ever-greater performance both on and off the track, from the first Indy 500-winning 1910 Marmon Wasp to the futuristic 2020 Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis - This new volume brings together the best of his three out-of-print works on the subject: Kingsley Amis in Drink, Everyday Drinking and How's Your Glass?
Mixing practical know-how and hilarious opinionation, this is a delightful cocktail of wry humor and distilled knowledge, served by one of our great gimlet wits.

Stories from around the web

The Alexander Kraft guide to elegant summer dressing
Dressing for summer can be dreadfully difficult. Should we sacrifice style for comfort? Do we abandon tailored fits? Which fabrics should we be avoiding? It’s a stuffy, muggy minefield. And perfecting this art of elegant summer dressing? That’s a craft.
The world’s oldest bottle of whiskey is heading to auction
The auction world is filled with rare bottles and casks of aged spirits. Few, though, can compare to a bottle of Old Ingledew Whiskey scheduled to go up for grabs this summer. That’s because this bottle of the American whiskey is believed to be the world’s oldest.
→ Read on Robb Rebort
You can buy Steve McQueen’s Malibu beach house for $12.2 million
For a cool $12.2 million, you can own a piece of Hollywood history. Sotheby’s has recently listed the late Steve McQueen’s beachfront 5 bedroom, 5 bath Malibu home. Located on a private gated street, this sunwashed home is a surreal getaway just steps away from the Pacific.
→ Read on Cool Material
When billionaires want an adventure, they call Roman & Erica
Submarine trips, yacht builds, space-station visits: if you can afford it, this husband-and-wife team will make it happen.
→ Read on Inside Hook
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This month's Issue was brought to you by Alessandro Coltro, Casper Lundmose, Gary Harrison, Nikki Ximeri and Steven Tingle.
As always, I love hearing your thoughts, whatever they may be.
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Alessandro - Gents Cafe Founder
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