Those who have visited Spiked Punch before (and really, who hasn’t?) know that I have a love of Anthony Trollope books, as there are a number of Trollope Cocktail Talks underlining that love. Please, go read them all! But I haven’t yet had one I don’t believe from Castle Richmond, one of five of his novels set in Ireland, a place where he lived for a good chunk of time, working for the post and kicking off his writing career. It’s perhaps my favorite of the five? Perhaps. Taking place at the beginning of the Irish famine, it has some harrowing moments and insights into that tragedy, though the core story itself is of a more personal family tragedy, or mystery, or both. Tragestery? There are the normal Trollopean well-developed characters a’plenty, mostly of the upperish class or want to be kind, but with enough others sprinkled in to keep it interesting. As well as the main did-she-or-they-or-didn’t-they kind of plot in a way, with enough side plots and history sprinkled in to keep it fresh. And of course, or we wouldn’t be here, a nice Cocktail Talky quote or two. At least two. Maybe three? Come back and see! Our first starts at a bar-rooming-house spot, where two of the more disreputable, shall we say, characters are living at for a chunk of the book. Living and drinking at, that is.
“You are cold I suppose, governor, and had better get a bit of something to eat, and a little tea.”
“And put my feet in hot water, and tallow my nose, and go to bed, hadn’t I? Miss O’Dwyer, I’ll trouble you to mix me a glass of brandy-punch. Of all the roads I ever travelled, that’s the longest and hardest to get over. Dashed, if I didn’t begin to think I’d never be here.” And so saying he flung himself into a chair, and put up his feet on the two hobs.
There was a kettle on one of them, which the young lady pushed a little nearer to the hot coals, in order to show that the water should be boiling; and as she did so Aby gave her a wink over his father’s shoulder, by way of conveying to her an intimation that “the governor was a little cut,” or in other language tipsy, and that the brandy-punch should be brewed with a discreet view to past events of the same description. All which Miss O’Dwyer perfectly understood.
This, friends, is a solemn time here on the Spiked Punch. I’ve just now this moment realized that I’ve never had a Cocktail Talk (unless I’ve lost it over the years, which is possible as my mind is old and there are many posts on there) from the immortal Anthony Trollope novel Phineas Finn. Or, from the also immortal Phineas Redux. What in the world? Y’all know I love me some Anthony Trollope (you know this from reading the many Trollope Cocktail Talks), and of all the Trollopian fictional gems, the two Phineas books – which are the second and fourth I believe in the Palliser series of novels by Trollope, books which revolve around politics, and how those taking part in them acted and talked and such, of his time in the main, while still being fiction – may well be my favorite. Not saying they are the best or making any canonical pronouncements. But they may be my favorites. I’m not even sure I can type out why! But I have a soft spot perhaps for the hero (Phineas), an Irish-born fella who makes his way into the London political world and has adventures and mis-adventures and romances and at least one duel and fox hunts and trials and ups and downs and brandy and all kinds of things. Perhaps I just love the scope and insights into the time period? Or how the characters mingle through the books, some coming and some going until there’s this whole feeling of being a part of the world Trollope is creating, or how the motivations seem to mirror modern ones (with different trapping of course)? Or his “complete appreciation of the usual” as they say? All of that? The one thing I know for sure is that I can’t believe I haven’t had a quote in the form of a Cocktail Talk from either Phineas book! Well, let’s remedy that with the below, shall we? This particular one doesn’t actually feature said hero, but one of the other fairly important, let’s call them sub-main characters, Lord Chiltern.
He told nothing to Captain Clutterbuck of his sorrow, but Captain Clutterbuck could see that he was unhappy.
“Let’s have another bottle of ‘cham,’” said Captain Clutterbuck, when their dinner was nearly over. “‘Cham’ is the only thing to screw one up when one is down a peg.”
“You can have what you like,” said Lord Chiltern; “but I shall have some brandy-and-water.”
“The worst of brandy-and-water is, that one gets tired of it before the night is over,” said Captain Clutterbuck.
As I was re-reading Can You Forgive Her?, the first in what’s commonly (though there is nothing common about them!) known as the Palliser novels, by long-time Spiked Punch pal Anthony Trollope, I realized that I couldn’t just have one more Cocktail Talk, oh no, I had to have at least two more. This being the second, and you being the reader that (if you haven’t read them) needs to go back and read the Can You Forgive Her? Cocktail Talk Part I (way back for that one) and then Part II (less farther back). That way you’ll be all caught and perfectly ready for the brilliantly named Burgo below, and for a little cherry brandy.
“Burgo, you had better eat your breakfast,” said Sir Cosmo.
“I don’t want any breakfast.” He took, however, a bit of toast, and crumbling it up in his hand as he put a morsel into his mouth, went away to the sideboard and filled for himself a glass of cherry brandy.
“If you don’t eat any breakfast the less of that you take the better,” said Sir Cosmo.
Hello Anthony Trollope fans! Which is everyone! Who likes to read, at least (which is also hopefully everyone)! Speaking of reading, long-time readers of this blog (which is everyone!) know that I love reading Trollope novels in the main, and know this due to the many many Trollope Cocktail Talks from years past. A long list that includes one Can You Forgive Her? Cocktail Talk. However! I was re-reading this book – the first in the amazing Palliser series, or series-esque – recently, and realized I needed way more in the way of Cocktail Talks from it. So, another is happening today, with the below quote. First a quick note: the novel is about a lady who goes a bit back-and-forth, not in her affections per se, but in how she decides to deal with them and her life, with a few other stories intertwined (including one which introduces Glencora Palliser, who shows up in most of the other books, and re-introduces Plantagenet Palliser, who shows up even more in them). All good Trollopian stuff! Including the below.
On the night before Christmas Eve two men were sitting together in George Vavasor’s rooms in Cecil Street. It was past twelve o’clock, and they were both smoking; there were square bottles on the table containing spirits, with hot water and cold water in jugs, and one of the two men was using, and had been using, these materials for enjoyment.
I wasn’t sure we’d have two An Old Man’s Love Cocktail Talks, as it’s a quicker read (especially in comparison with many Trollope gems). However, here we are! I had to feature the quote in Part I (read it, to find out why, and to find out more about the book, the last full novel written by the English great, and for even more, check out all the Trollope Cocktail Talks), and then when mulling things over, didn’t want to miss the below, either. In it, we learn our lead character has had drinking whiskey as a doctor’s recommendation – something that doesn’t happen enough today!
He had, indeed, felt but little his want of success in regard to money, but he had encountered failure in one or two other matters which had touched him nearly. In some things his life had been successful; but these were matters in which the world does not write down a man’s good luck as being generally conducive to his happiness. He had never had a headache, rarely a cold, and not a touch of the gout. One little finger had become crooked, and he was recommended to drink whisky, which he did willingly,—because it was cheap. He was now fifty, and as fit, bodily and mentally, for hard work as ever he had been.
First published in 1884, An Old Man’s Love was the last novel completed by the Spiked Punch’s pal Anthony Trollope, published after his death (there’s one more unfinished novel, too – oh, and check out all the Trollope Cocktail Talks to learn more, in an overall way, while having oodles of reading fun), and also one of the few novels by him that I’d yet to read, until recently! It’s a short novel, and almost could have slipped into novella size, though I’d hate to miss all but a few of his last words. I wouldn’t put it into the super-awesome tier of Trollope, as it’s fairly one-path’d as opposed to his thicker, more layered pieces. But it’s a good study of just what the title would have you believe: an older gentleman falls for his younger ward and nearly marries her – but then a past love of her’s shows up, and stuff ensues, as you’d expect. There are a few other pertinent characters, including the old man’s (Mr. Whittlestaff, that is), housekeeper, with whom he has some funny exchanges, and her drunken reprobate of an estranged husband. The latter is featured in the below quote, which itself also features one of my favorite phrases, “drunk as a lord.” This phrase usage is really why the below makes it to Cocktail Talk status. Drunk as a lord! I’ve been there, my friends.
On the next morning, when John Gordon reached the corner of the road at which stood Croker’s Hall, he met, outside on the roadway, close to the house, a most disreputable old man with a wooden leg and a red nose. This was Mr. Baggett, or Sergeant Baggett as he was generally called, and was now known about all Alresford to be the husband of Mr. Whittlestaff’s housekeeper. For news had got abroad, and tidings were told that Mr. Baggett was about to arrive in the neighbourhood to claim his wife. Everybody knew it before the inhabitants of Croker’s Hall. And now, since yesterday afternoon, all Croker’s Hall knew it, as well as the rest of the world. He was standing there close to the house, which stood a little back from the road, between nine and ten in the morning, as drunk as a lord. But I think his manner of drunkenness was perhaps in some respects different from that customary with lords. Though he had only one leg of the flesh, and one of wood, he did not tumble down, though he brandished in the air the stick with which he was accustomed to disport himself. A lord would, I think, have got himself taken to bed. But the Sergeant did not appear to have any such intention.
You may have thought it couldn’t be done, but we’re back to Orley Farm after our cinematic sidestep last week, and I’m going to have one more Mr. Moulder Cocktail Talk from the Trollope novel (I may have more Cocktail Talks from the book that don’t feature him, too. Only time will tell pals, and even it might not know!). But we’ve had a few of him in his higher moments, and so I only felt it was right to have one when he’s snoozing away after a long day shilling for Hubbles and Grease and swilling brandy and water (and perhaps other potent potables, too). However, it’s the description of his waking in the below quote that does the most for me. Oh, before I forget! Don’t miss the Orley Farm Cocktail Talks Part I, Part II, and Part III for more about the book itself, and all the Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks (there are a few!) for more Trollopean fun.
Soon after that Mr. Kenneby saw Mrs. Smiley home in a cab, and poor Mrs. Moulder sat by her lord till he roused himself from his sleep. Let us hope that her troubles with him were as little vexatious as possible; and console ourselves with the reflection that at twelve o’clock the next morning, after the second bottle of soda and brandy, he was ‘as sweet as sweet.’
Our third Orley Farm Cocktail Talk revisits a character introduced in Part II (for more on the overall book, see Part I, and for more Trollopean fun, see all past Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks), traveling salesman for Hubbles and Grease, Mr. Moulder. In this quote, we find our rotund commercial traveler at home for Christmas celebrations, where he and his missus are hosting a few others for a big feast, and where Mr. Moulder is talking of the liquid possibilities for the day, specifically brandy and a special whiskey,
And then, as for drink, —”tipple,” as Mr. Moulder sportively was accustomed to name it among his friends, he opined that he was not altogether behind the mark in that respect. “He had got some brandy—he didn’t care what anybody might say about Cognac and eau de vie; but the brandy which he had got from Betts’ private establishment seventeen years ago, for richness of flavour and fullness of strength, would beat any French article that anybody in the city could show. That at least was his idea. If anybody didn’t like it, they needn’t take it. There was whisky that would make your hair stand on end.” So said Mr. Moulder, and I can believe him; for it has made my hair stand on end merely to see other people drinking it.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More