July 21, 2009

Cocktail Talk: The Menu

As captain of industry Ed Skoog said in a recent blog post for the Seattle PI (which used to be a paper, but which now is a website, or something like that, as the song says), “summertime is poetry time.” Well, maybe that’s a paraphrase, but it was close, and when I was drinking with him last week he at least mumbled that exact phrase. Which is why I wanted to put up this poem called “The Menu” for you, dear Spiked Punch reader, to make your summertime complete. And, cause I like the rhyme of “the days” and “mayonnaise.” Thomas Bailey Aldrich, the author, is dead. But he had a rollicking time of it before March 19, 1907, from what little I know, and from reading this poem, which is pretty darn celebratory of the drinking-and-eating-with-pals-makes-life-better theory, a theory I have signed on for myself. With that said, have a pal or two over, make some treats of the liquid and edible variety, and read this out loud. It’s a hoot. Hoot, hoot. Or maybe I’ll just record myself reading it? Unless you send me pictures of writers or pets drinking. That’s a threat.


The Menu


I beg you come to-night and dine.

A welcome waits you, and sound wine–

The Roederer chilly to a charm,

As Juno’s breath the claret warm,

The sherry of an ancient brand.

No Persian pomp, you understand–

A soup, a fish, two meats, and then

A salad fit for aldermen

(When aldermen, alas, the days!

Were really worth their mayonnaise);

A dish of grapes whose clusters won

Their bronze in Carolinian sun;

Next, cheese–for you the Neufchatel,

A bit of Cheshire likes me well;

Cafe au lait or coffee black,

With Kirsch or Kummel or Cognac

(The German band in Irving Place

By this time purple in the face);

Cigars and pipes.  These being through,

Friends shall drop in, a very few–

Shakespeare and Milton, and no more.

When these are guests I bolt the door,

With Not at Home to any one

Excepting Alfred Tennyson.



–Thomas Bailey Aldrich, The Menu

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