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High Society

[whitespace] Jackie Kennedy Jackie would always order chilled asparagus and a glass of French Champagne. Some say she kept her lanky figure because of the asparagus. But insiders know it was the bubbly that did it. Champagne was her tipple of choice. It suited her whole image. Expensive and effervescent.




You go to my head
And you linger like a haunting refrain
And I find you spinning 'round in my brain
Like the bubbles in a glass of Champagne
"You Go to My Head" (Gillespie/Coots)

By Christina Waters

LONG, LEAN, IMPOSSIBLY elegant, Jackie Kennedy was the woman every girl in America wanted to be when she grew up. Only she had better cheekbones and the husband of everyone's dreams. (Except her own, of course, but that's another story.) Jackie was, in the words of Francis Albert Sinatra, "one classy broad." And as such, she didn't just go to a bar. Absolutely not. She had to wrap a social context around her recreational drinking. A social context like shopping.

Even though her impeccable linen outfits were delivered directly to the White House doorstep by Valentino and Oleg Cassini, she adored shopping. Especially in small, charming beach towns, where she and her prettier sister, Princess (in those days) Lee Radziwill, would hit boutiques until it was time for lunch. They would work their way through antique palaces, pause to finger some handmade jewelry and admire blown-glass goblets. Often they would stop to pick up foreign newspapers or silk scarves hand-woven by local artisans.

Then they'd hit their favorite bistro, where Jackie would always order the same meal. Chilled asparagus and a glass of French Champagne. Some say she kept her lanky figure because of the asparagus. But insiders know it was the bubbly that did it. Champagne, ideally Veuve Clicquot--prophetically named for a French widow--was her tipple of choice. It suited her whole image. Expensive and effervescent.

Jackie liked her bubbly more than she let on, and she enjoyed several glasses in the late afternoon, the appointed cocktail hour of her '50s youth. Mrs. Kennedy certainly wasn't the first, nor last, first lady to enjoy a drink or two. Pat Nixon and Mamie Eisenhower were famed tipplers. And let's not forget another classy dame named Betty Ford. But raised by wealthy parents and nannies and educated in Europe, Jackie knew to provide the proper--make that unimpeachable--social context for cocktails.

So invariably she liked to sip over lunch or at state dinners, for which she brought fine French wines to American tables and Colonial consciousness for the first time since Dolley Madison. Gifted with an extraordinary hollow leg, Jackie would consume wines with every one of the eight courses she laid out at White House galas and could still stand without swaying in her designer gowns.

Jackie liked small bistros and restaurants that offered discreet service--the kind that deliver exactly what you want and then get out of the way--and featured interesting wine lists. She would frequent the establishments that offered Mediterranean-style antipasti and a wide range of white Burgundies by the glass or that served good French Champagnes.

It wasn't that she cared a damn what the label was. It's just that her refined taste buds knew the difference between cheap sparkling wines and the bone-dry French bubbly served in tall, fragile flutes. Jackie knew it was the perfect accompaniment for every food, so no matter what she was eating--asparagus, lobster or barbecued baby back ribs--it was her drink. Always correct. Always incredibly classy.

Jackie--like Champagne--was the essence of elegance.

A Jackie Kennedy Kind of Place

Big Basin Bistro
14480 Big Basin Way, Saratoga (408/867-1764)

Birk's
3955 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara (408/980-6400)

Cafe Fino
544 Emerson St., Palo Alto (650/326-6082)

Cafe Marcella
368 Village Lane, Los Gatos (408/354-8006)

Chart House
115 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos (408/354-1737)

Crazy Horse Bistro/The Plumed Horse
14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga (408/867-4711)

Crescent Park Grill
546 University Ave., Palo Alto (650/326-0111)

Eulipia Restaurant and Bar
374 S. First St., San Jose (408/280-6161)

The Grill on the Alley
In the Fairmont Hotel, 170 S. Market (408/998-1900)

Il Fornaio
302 S. Market St., San Jose (408/271-3366)

Jou Jou's Bistro
95 S. Market St. #210, San Jose (408/277-0690)

MacArthur Park
27 University Ave., Palo Alto (650/321-9990)

The Palace
146 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale (408/739-5179)

Spago Palo Alto
265 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto (650/321-4466)

Starlite Ballroom
1160 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Sunnyvale (408/745-7827)

Stratta Grill and Café
71 E. San Fernando, San Jose (408/293-1121)

Valeriano's
160 W. Main St., Los Gatos (408/354-8108)

The Wine Galleria
377 S. First St., San Jose (408/298-1386)

Zorba's
1350 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose (408/293-7170)

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From the June 11-17, 1998 issue of Metro.

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