March 30, 2010

Cocktail Talk: Sideswipe

The last week or two, I reread all the Hoke Moseley books by Charles Willeford. If you don’t them, or Mr. Willeford’s work, and you know how to read, then change your reading patterns. Or get out. That’s how I sound after reading them, but it’s not how they sound, because they’re not as fake tough (and some of the less-detective/etc ones not at all), but what I like to think of as naturalistically insane. Very matter of factly crazy somehow. Hoke Moseley is a Miami detective, who deals with some criminals but also ends up taking care of his teenage daughters and his pregnant partner (well, she’s not always pregnant, as she has a baby in one of them) and various random Floridians. He drinks Early Times mostly (though isn’t opposed to other options) and has false teeth. This isn’t really saying much really about the books, but this might help: I think if I could have one more book written of any series, I might choose to have one more Hoke Moseley book written by Charles Willeford. If that tells you anything (I wonder what other people would pick with this option? What would you choose?) This quote is from Sideswipe, the 3rd of 4 Moseley books.

Frank was in his den, watching a lacrosse game on cable, and Helen was in the living room. She sat at her fruitwood desk, addressing envelopes and enclosing mimeographed letters requesting donations for the Palm Beach Center for Abused Children. She was on the last few envelopes when Hoke joined her in the living room. He poured three ounces of Chivas Regal at the bar, added two ice cubes, and gave himself a splash of soda. Helen looked over her shoulder and smiled. “I’m about finished Hoke. Could you fix me a pink gin please?”

“Tanqueray or Beefeater?”

“It doesn’t make any difference when you add bitters, so I’d just as soon have Gordon’s.”

Because it did make a difference, Hoke poured three ounces of Tanqueray into a crystal glass, added ice cubes, and put in a liberal sprinkling of Angostura bitters. He took a cocktail napkin from the stack and put the napkin and drink on the edge of the desk where Helen could reach it.

“Thank you,” Helen sipped her drink. “This is Tanqueray.”

“There is a difference then.”


—Charles Willeford, Sideswipe


PS: The other Willeford books (not in this series) are also darn fine. Especially The Pick Up (one of the great, and the first book by him I read), and Cockfighter (which was of course made into the fine, fine movie starring the best actor ever, Warren Oates).

Martin Miller said:

Hi, I stumbled across your blog and was attracted by your mention of Charles Willeford,. I have been a fan of his for a while and agree with you about his greatest book, Cockfighter. However I haven’t read Sideswipe so was intrigued by the Tanqueray versus Beefeater passage! Damn right there’s a difference, that’s the beauty of gin over vodka. Both are great classic brands, but like with my own gins, each work differently in different combinations, but all serve to enhance the experience of being a human being!

admin said:

Martin–a gin fan and a Willeford fan? That’s an awesome combination. You should give Sideswipe a shot. Might not reach the levels of Cockfighter, but it’s well worth a read. And amen to gin enhance the human experience. I heartily agree.

phismi said:

You know of my unabashed love for gin, so I’m going to have to give Mr. Willeford a read. While drinking gin, of course.

Also, I tried Aviation Gin for the first time last night (based on a half-remembered Good Spirits recommendation from a while ago) and it was a revelation! The smoothest gin I’ve ever tasted.

Now I have to get some bitters, too, since this is the second time you’ve mentioned Pink Gin and I have to check it out for my own self.

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