Phryne Fisher’s Cherry-flavored Mystery

This is what the duck and I call the cold latte recipe that we came up with to accompany today’s friend recommendation: the glorious Australian TV series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. We had not heard about the series before the lovely R had recommended it; a few minutes into the first episode, the duck and I were in love! When we recently realized that Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries had disappeared from Netflix, we were devastated. Finding out that some dubbed episodes can be streamed through the media center of a German TV channel consoled us only a little bit. We find most dubbing alienating. Therefore, we can’t fully enjoy this alternative. But knowing that we can watch episodes of one of our favorite feel-good series if we really want to, even if it’s in German, is better than having no access (other than buying or renting episodes). This is also why I was able to capture the duck watching Phryne Fisher preparing to be a badass next to “Phryne Fisher’s Cherry-flavored Mystery”!“Why cherry?” you may ask. Well, we wanted to go with something that matches the series’s color scheme. We also thought you couldn’t go wrong with a hint of sakura in spring. Now, the duck and I present a recipe for our take on one of our favorite beverages – coffee – that is almost worthy of going alongside this exciting series that so exquisitely combines three of our favorite things: period dramas, strong female characters, and a mystery uncovering detective:

Why we fell in love with Phryne Fisher’s world

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is based on the crime novels by Kerry Greenwood set in late 1920s Melbourne. The series follows the adventures of Phryne Fisher, a wealthy amateur detective, and her many acquaintances. The duck and I love the setting! Reading the introduction, you might have wondered why I would call this a feel-good series when the word ‘murder’ is in the title. Well, even though the series depicts crime a lot, its look is a different story entirely. The opening (the duck is watching in the photo above) shows mainly black and red still images that spread on weathered writing paper like ink, water, or blood; the cinematography, color grading, production design, and costumes mirror that. Visually the series is mainly sunny and bright with lots of white, beige, and brown tones that remind of a sepia photograph, broken up by reds (like blood) and some blues, purples, and other colors. That alone is enough for the duck and me to feel happy no matter the action. Exterior night scenes, in contrast, are very blue, almost like blue-tinted night scenes in old black and white movies. It feels like a lot of thinking has gone into the color scheme which might be the decisive ingredient that makes us love Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries so much.
The decisive ingredient in our cold cherry latte is cherry – more specifically: sour cherry syrup. We also gathered some oat milk, coffee, and ice cubes – we love the reusable plastic ones that don’t water down your drink (because watered-down ice drinks are only for reserving a table at a cafe).
Cherry latte how-to 1
We also love the music that amazingly reinforces the 20s vibe that the colors hint at. Naturally, the duck and I have not experienced the 1920s first-hand, and we’re by no means history buffs. But we have a very vague idea of what (movies and television say) this period might have looked and sounded like. The series uses music from the late 1920s/early 1930s, which vastly adds to the setting and the cheer the duck and I feel whenever we go on an adventure with Miss Fisher; it’s just so fun! I would even say that the music (that we sometimes even perceive as being pleasantly corny – a quality that far too few TV series and movies have in our opinion) is an integral part of the metaphorical time machine Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has built to transport its audience into late 1920s Melbourne. The original score also tends to have a distinctive 1920s sound, at least to the duck and my untrained ears. Let’s expand that time machine metaphor and have a listen to the opening theme. Even though we’re pretty sure it was written in the 21st century, it amazingly carries us back into a distinctly different and beautifully bright world. There are so many contemporary mystery shows with their own contemporary mystery soundtracks, but isn’t it nice to hear a 1920s lady detective uncover a mystery with mysterious background music that also sounds like the 1920s? The duck and I sure think it is!
The duck and I also think that the color of the cherry syrup is the most beautiful thing you could ever see at the bottom of a glass (including diamond engagement rings)! We didn’t want the drink to turn out too sweet, so we decided to go with two teaspoons (10ml) for a nice hint of cherry (instead of feeling like you were obviously punched in the face with a massive cherry tree branch).
Of course, the most obvious elements that set Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries in the late 1920s are the costumes, hair and makeup, and the detailed production design. Everything you see in the frame appears accurate to the period, from the furniture to the vehicles and clothes. We’re pretty sure that Phryne dresses like a fashionable and wealthy modern 1920s woman. She welcomes progress and doesn’t think twice about driving modern cars or flying a plane if she needs to. The duck and I love her characteristic bob and the flowing dresses and pants(!) that go with it. Of course, not everyone in the series is as progressive as Phryne; various characters wear more “traditional” or old-fashioned clothing and hairstyles, a detail we welcome in period pieces: acknowledging that not everyone wants to or can adopt the latest fashion. It’s all a matter of funds and character.
The duck loved how the cherry syrup took on an entirely new character after I had poured around 115ml (roughly half a cup) of cold milk we had frothed using our lovely milk frother on top of it: It now had the color of cherry blossoms! If we didn’t have a milk frother with a cold setting, we would probably have used regular, unfrothed milk for this.
If the characters in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries weren’t so different, we’d only have half the fun watching the series. Even though Phryne, with her modern, independent, and utterly fearless behavior, seems to be the embodiment of a strong female character, she is by far not the only one. Let’s take Dot, her maid and sidekick, for example. Dot is a conservative Catholic and more worried about tradition and social norms than Phryne seems to be. As Phryne at some point exclaims to Jack, a Detective Inspector with whom she regularly crosses paths, that she cannot commit to one man, Dot’s relationship with Hugh, a constable under Jack, which slowly develops throughout the series is more traditional and innocent. While Dot is one of the more “traditional” characters we mentioned earlier, she is also depicted as a strong-willed and brave young woman; she doesn’t hesitate to go undercover for Phryne and even gets her priest to accept her relationship with Hugh despite his being a Protestant. Another totally different female character the duck and I want to mention is Phryne’s aunt Prudence. Unlike Phryne, she doesn’t use her wealth to acquire the latest gadgets and live the life of a fashionable free spirit. She is a traditional society matron who cares a lot about reputation. Prudence is just as head-strong as Phryne, which is why the duck and I find it so entertaining to watch these two strong women with totally different ideals and worldviews interact.
The duck and I also find it extremely entertaining to pour espresso into a Latte Macchiato – just think about all the beautiful layers! We weren’t sure what, if any, layers would form if we poured a freshly brewed espresso over room temperature frothy milk, but we were still excited!
Cherry latte how-to 4
It is no secret that the duck and I are excited about anything to do with solving mysteries and casual sleuthing! Even though we sometimes forget that crime is a big part of the plot, we like seeing Phryne and her crew solve murders and other mysteries in such a pretty setting. At their core, the crimes are similar to those depicted in other crime shows on TV because crime is crime no matter the time (oooh, we should make this a slogan for something!). However, even though the culprits’ motives are universal, the circumstances are often specific to the particular period Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is set in. The duck and I might even have learned a thing or two (historically speaking) other than that we love the look of the series (we actually welcome that it looks a bit artificial to us because that adds to the overall atmosphere we like so much) and how it presents a 50-minute escape from everyday life in the 21st century.
The duck and I also learned that adding ice cubes makes this drink thousand times more enjoyable. We loved the look of our cherry latte concoction, which felt like a success before we even tasted it. We’re usually no fans of fruity flavors with coffee, so we were worried about the overall taste. Weirdly, this specific sour cherry syrup combined with the cold milk and espresso did remind us of sakura, which, to us, does not count as a particularly fruity flavor. Success!
We have made ‘Phryne Fisher’s Cherry-flavored mystery’ several times and are still quite happy with this recipe. Using a bit less syrup works well, too, as does using cold un-frothed milk and lots of ice cubes! The sakura taste strangely only came across when we used cold milk; using hot milk in this recipe has the same charm as a hot fruit salad to us… but if you like fruity flavors in coffee, go right ahead. We’re not judging!
We are, however, judging our past selves for not knowing about this sensational series earlier! How did we never stumble upon this ourselves? This probably is a mystery I will never solve. If you hadn’t heard about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries or haven’t watched it yet, but think that a murder mystery set in late 1920s Melbourne led by a fearless woman and her compelling friends, acquaintances, and antagonists sounds interesting, let the duck and me be your R (well, a not-so-awesome version) and tell you: Give it a shot (just like Phryne with the little golden handgun she carries around in her purse)!

2 thoughts on “Phryne Fisher’s Cherry-flavored Mystery

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