November 20, 2018

Cocktail Talk: Shoot the Piano Player

Image result for shoot the piano player bookWow, I haven’t had a lot of David Goodis on here (I think just one Goodis post) – which is a shame, cause I love his work. Maybe it’s just too downbeat? Maybe when they drink it feels almost, oh, the opposite of the jolly drinking I tend to applaud? Maybe it’s just bad timing? – nearly all of his characters have a lot of bad timing. But he (though not as revered here in the U.S. as he should be, or maybe not as well-known is a better way to put it, as his devotees are devoted, and I say U.S. cause he’s bigger in France, where most of his books have been made into movies, and where the only scant biography of him has been published) is a subtle master of pacing and language, and an obvious master of writing about the down and out and the nowhere to go and the last chance has already faded into the past, the back alleys and longshores and shabby bars that become nearly family for those who inhabit their shady, scruffy, barstools to nowhere. Shoot The Piano Player may be his best-known book, or at least one with Dark Passage the other, as it was made into a movie by François Truffaut, and it’s a worthy read unless you’re looking for some sort-of peppy ending. Lots of it centers around a bar, Harriet’s Hut. Not the nicest place, but a popular joint, as the below description tells us.

At the bar the Friday night crowd was jammed three-and-four-deep. Most of the drinkers wore work pants and heavy-soled work shoes. Some were very old, sitting in groups at the tables, their hair white and their faces wrinkled. But their hands didn’t tremble as they lifted beer mugs and shot glasses. They could still lift a drink as well as any Hut regular, and they held their alcohol with a certain straight-seated dignity that gave them the appearance of venerable elders at a town meeting.

Shoot the Piano Player, David Goodis

November 16, 2018

What I’m Drinking: La Rana d’Oro

Okay, yes, you caught me. I’m having a Golden Frog, and Italian-ing it in name. I’m apologize, but I just returned from Italy (or maybe I’m on my way back still, sometimes when traveling and taking time away it’s nearly dreamlike, and time does strange things to you, especially in Umbria I believe, when you’re on a hillside and the sun in bright and the air is crisp and you have a drink of vodka, Galliano, Strega, and lemon juice, and everything is so gold, gold, gold), and am craving a little more Italian vacation in my day, and so here I am with a La Rana d’Oro and you’re hassling me about the name? You probably won’t get one, then.

la-rana-d-oroLa Rana d’Oro

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces vodka
1-1/2 ounces Galliano
1/2 ounce Strega
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway up with ice cubes. Add the vodka, Galliano, Strega, and lemon juice. Shake well.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Serve in an Italian manner.

November 13, 2018

Cocktail Talk: Cigarette

Image result for night and fear cornellA little more Cornell Woolrich for all those Woolrich-heads out there (and hopefully that includes all of you). Be sure to check out our past Cornell Cocktail Talks, to get a little more background and more cocktail-ing on and with this noir-master – so much so that many of his books have “black” in the title. However, today we’re taking a quote from the book Night & Fear, which is actually a collection of stories that he published in the pulps back in the day. There’s a whole array of numbers in here, police stories, more noir-y numbers, and out-there-reads, which “Cigarette,” the story we’re pulling from here, fits into, though it also has a gangster angle, and that breathtaking page-turning quality most Woolriches wear like a glove. In the below, we have a bar scene with a younger, let’s call him naïve, chap and some more hardened heavies.

“Eddie grinned sheepishly and said, “Good evening, gents. Uh-uh-uh rye highball, but not too much rye.”

The laugh that went up drowned out the rest of it and he had to repeat himself so the barman could hear him. “And find out what the rest of the gents will have.”

Miller killed his drink, winked, and said, “Uh-uh-uh sarsaparilla for me.” He banged his hand down. “I don’t care if I do get drunk!” Another roar went up.

— Cornell Woolrich, Cigarette, in Night & Fear

November 9, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Volga

I’m just gonna quote one of my favorite headnotes here (I know, I know, vulgar to quote myself, but what the heck), from Good Spirits:

“It’s as if I never left. In a canoe. On the longest river in Europe, the Volga. Ice in every direction. Bears and bear-like animals along the banks. A storm railing against that canoe for every one of the 2,300 miles. Crazy birds circling, waiting for the canoe crash to pick the remains clean from splinters. Water splashing over the sides like a curse. And then the sturgeon with their beady eyes tracing my progress from the deep pockets. The banks birthing jagged rock after jagged rock, taunting me with possible capsize after capsize. But did I worry? No sir, and no ma’am. I poured a Volga and sat backed and smiled. If you’re every stuck on a long river, I suggest doing the same.”

This is made even better if you use Sidetrack Distillery’s Cassis, which is tarty, fruity, and awesome-y.

volgaThe Volga

Ice cubes
2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce cream de cassis
1/2 ounce heavy cream
Two raspberries for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the vodka, cassis, and cream. Shake well.

2. Add the two raspberries to a cocktail glass. Strain the mix into the glass. Za vashe zdorov’ye!

November 6, 2018

A Rose in the Fall at Seattle Magazine

Recently (in the full scope of time) got to go down to a newish bar in Seattle, called Black Cat, and I loved it, with its amazing metal-album-cover mural, friendly staff, fun and tasty drinks, and owner Dustin Haarstad, who makes a swell cocktail and is a darn friendly fellow himself. While there, I had a fantastic Calvados-based cocktail called A Rose in the Fall, and then (because I have a nice guardian angel) I got to write about the drink and the spot for the smiley Seattle magazine. You should go read all about A Rose in the Fall, and visit Black Cat, too. You’ll be happy, I’ll be happy, they’ll be happy, and the world needs more happy.

November 2, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Cinghiale’s Bikini

Maybe I’m missing summer, maybe I’m a bore (get it? sure you do!), maybe I’m feeling tropical amidst the descending days of winter, or maybe I’m heading to San Leo tomorrow – whichever the I’m I am, I decided I needed one of these today. It features an Italian tamarind syrup (any good molasses-y textured tamarind syrup will do, and if you can’t find one, him, try a pomegranate syrup and call this a Sleeping Cinghiale’s Bikini) and other jolly pals.

cinghiale-bikiniCinghiale’s Bikini

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
3/4 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeeze lime juice
1/2 Carlo Erba Tamarindo syrup
Lime slice, for garnish
Pineapple slice, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, juices, and tamarind. Shake really well.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass, or whatever good glass is nearby. Garnish with the lime slice and pineapple slice.

October 30, 2018

Don’t Forget Your Warlock This Halloween

If you’ve forgotten (though how could you, marketing being the horror that it is), tomorrow is Halloween! I’m guessing you have your costume set, but what about your drink? If not, then remember the Warlock! It has brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. It will, when consumed, turn you into a zombie magician as the below video shows. But hey, it’s Halloween, that’s what you want!

October 26, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Sleepy Hollow

Here’s a haunting favorite I hadn’t made recently – which was foolish of me, because it’s a Halloween hit that’s good year round. But, especially due to the headless nature of the eerie moniker, it’s a chillingly good choice this time of year. Luckily, it’s not scary to make, and the taste isn’t scary at all, and your spooky party pals will love it. Heck, they might even say it’s boo-tiful. Hahaha!

sleepy-hollow-1
Sleepy Hollow, from Good Spirits

Ice cubes
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
2-1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur

1. Add the mint, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or hefty wooden spoon, muddle well.

2. Fill the cocktail shaker or glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and apricot liqueur. Shake well, but don’t lose your head.

3. Strain into a large cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a swizzle stick topped with a plastic head. Or other appropriate Halloween fun.

Rathbun on Film