I recently re-read (for the, oh, let’s say, fourth time) Graham Greene’s classic short post-WW-II Vienna thriller The Third Man. It was written specifically to be made into the (possibly) more classic movie of the same name, and is entirely worthwhile. And a quick read, too, as it both keeps you on the edge of your reading chair or couch – as you, along with the amazingly-named Rollo Martins, unravel the mystery of Harry Lime – and because as mentioned, it’s short. It also has a couple of neat bar scenes. I especially like the description below.
After he left me, Martins went straight off to drink himself silly. He chose the Oriental to do it in, the dreary smoky little night club that stands behind a sham Eastern façade. The same semi-nude photographs on the stairs, the same half-drunk Americans at the bar, the same bad wine and extraordinary gins – he might have been in any third-rate night haunt in any other shabby capital of a shabby Europe.
– Graham Greene, The Third Man
As a longtime reader (you are, right?) of this here weblog, you probably know that I have a fondness for the pulp-y writer Day Keene, who churned out an incredible amount of stories and novels in the classic pulp era. It’s not always easy to track down his books (though some story collections now available help), but there is a reprint from the swell folks at Hard Case Crime of one novel, Home is the Sailor. A typically fast-paced Keene read, it follows the travails of a sailor who wants to do right, but runs into the wrong bar and the wrong lady. It’s well worth tracking down, not only for this quote, which happens south of the border:
The Mexican license bureau was closed. I’d expected that. There was a bar on the main drag with a faded sign that proclaimed it to be the longest bar in the world. I parked Corliss at a table and bought her a rum Collins to work on. Then I brushed off my rusty Spanish and buttonholed the first cop I met on the street.
–Day Keene, Home is the Sailor
• Local Spirits and Liqueurs to Sip When You’re Full
• Three Impressions of Flint Creek Cattle Co.
• Three Impressions of No Anchor
• Three Impressions of 190 Sunset
• Three Impressions of Foreign National
Canlis is one of Seattle’s restaurant gems, and I (and wife Nat of course!) recently got to stop in and sit at the re-designed bar and sip and chat with friendly bar manager James MacWilliams and bartender José Castillo. One of the sippers was the Ouroboros, a mezcal-based delicious drink that José came up with. Then, I got to write about the drink (including the recipe for it) and the place and the people for Seattle magazine. You should read about it now. Then head to Canlis yourself.