The drinks I remember from Dodie Smith's "I Capture the Castle' are sticky liqueurs illicitly consumed in the village pub, but when I came across the One Exciting Night cocktail in the Savoy book it felt just about right - the sort of drink that Simon might order for Rose knowing that she isn't quite as sophisticated as she'd like to think.
It's basically a Perfect Cocktail (equal parts gin, Italian, and French Vermouth) but with a dash of orange juice added, the edge of the glass frosted in sugar, and a squeeze of lemon peel on top. The Savoy version also specifies Plymouth gin which has an earthier character than London dry.
If there's one thing guaranteed to set up the back of your wine merchant it's an airy declaration along the lines of 'I don't like French wine' (even worse when you spend a good quarter of an hour suggesting options for the French wine hater - who has almost certainly dismissed a couple of Chardonnays out of hand at this point - they say they want a Chablis. At the risk of revealing how pedantic I can be I'm entirely happy with people saying they haven't found a French wine they like...
The difference is an open mind. The Savoy Cocktail Book has taught me a few things, but perhaps the most important is the difference a few small tweaks can make. Strong, dry, drinks are an acquired taste - I didn't much like the first, very dry, Martini I drank, and I still prefer them with a higher ratio of vermouth than is perhaps fashionable. I love a Gin & It for the mellowing effect of spicy sweet red Vermouth on the gin.
One Exciting Night takes that sweetness a step further by sugaring the rim of the glass - which also looks pretty. I'm thinking of it as a beginners Martini, and there's nothing derogatory about that. It's a reminder that drinks should be fun, not an endurance test.