July 7, 2020
Hello you! Did you see or not see The Bertrams Part I Cocktail Talk, in which I called the immortal Anthony Trollope “Tony” and talked about this book we’re quoting from? If you didn’t see that yet, then by all means, go read it now (and you could read all the Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks, too, if you want). But if you have, and so you really have all the background and build up and such, then why not dive right into the below quote, which focuses on two mad military men, who aren’t really a large part of the overall story (heck, they barely feature at all). But, this quote was my introduction to “tiffin-time,” which is like (or was? Still is? You tell me) an Indian afternoon tea, round 3 p.m., and where it seems they also had beer! I like it. And of course, I’m always happy to see the boozy wine punch Sangaree make an appearance!
“And the brows of Major Biffin and Captain M’Gramm were clouded. They had been filling the plates and glasses of these two ladies all the way from Calcutta; they had walked with them every day on deck, had fetched their chairs, picked up their handkerchiefs, and looked after their bottled beer at tiffin-time with an assiduity which is more than commendable in such warm latitudes. And now to be thrown on one side for two travelling Englishmen, one in a brown coat and the other in a black one for two muffs, who had never drunk Sangaree or sat under a punkah!”
–Anthony Trollope, The Bertrams
August 13, 2019
If you missed The Two-Penny Bar Part I
, be sure to catch up on your brandy – and reading – and for that matter, don’t miss a one of the many mighty Maigret Cocktail Talks
, cause they are full of boozy jolly-ness, and will point you to many a classic read by George Simenon. This book (as it says on the back) that goes into the “sleazy underbelly of respectable Parisian life,” is too good, too, for just one Cocktail Talk post, especially because this second one has the good Inspector Maigret a little over-indulged on one of his favorite tipples – but this book does center around a bar!
“What are you drinking?” he heard a voice ask. “A large Pernod?”
The very word was enough to remind him of the week gone by, the Sunday get-togethers of the Morsang crowd, the whole disagreeable case.
“A beer,” he replied.
“At this hour?”
The well-meaning waiter who had offered him the aperitif was taken aback at the force of Maigret’s response.
April 16, 2019
My love of, and diving into, the George Simenon Maigret canon has been well documented here on the Spiked Punch, with loads of Simenon Cocktail Talks
that you should go back and read and love. This one here, the newest as I write this at least, cause I’m sure they’ll be more, sees our man Maigret drawn into the wacky world of Parisian (and France, in general) politics, which he doesn’t always enjoy, but which it’s fun to see him navigate and he tried to unravel a corruption case. As usual, he and his team have an assortment of drinks along the way, starting with some sloe gin, but leaning heaviest I believe into Pernod.
And Maigret felt slightly guilty vis-à-vis his two colleagues. Lapointe too must have realized by now what it was all about.
“A beer?” suggested Maigret.
“No. A Pernod.”
And that too was out of character for Lucas. They waited for the drinks to be served, and then continued in hushed tones.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Minister
February 26, 2019
As I chatted with you about in our previous Fletcher Flora Cocktail Talk posts that were up here recently, I’ve been reading a three-pack book (meaning, it contains three novels) from this sadly lesser-known pulp/pocketbook star, and in the second book, Let Me Kill You, Sweetheart, you can really see what set him apart, as it has a level of creativity in how it approaches what should be a straightforward murder, with multiple narrators (including the killer, though we don’t know who it is until the last sentence, and the murder victim) and backstories. It’s pretty neat. And, it has a nice hotel bar where a fair amount of action – or in-action – takes place, including the drinking of Miller High Life! Now, way before the MHLife renaissance, my pals and I were big, big fans of the American beer, because it’s nice on a hot day, because it was a sort-of outsiders beer (and we were sort-of outsiders), because it didn’t cost a ton of $$ (and we didn’t have a ton of $$), and, well once we started, why stop? So, seeing a MHLife quote in a book from Fletcher Flora from 1958 was neat. And love that they call it Miller’s High Life. Read it, and you’ll agree:
An hour later, at eleven-thirty, the taproom of the Division Hotel was almost deserted. The only persons present were Bernie Juggins, the bartender, and Purvy Stubbs. Purvy sat on a stool and stared moodily into half a glass of Miller’s High Life that was going flat. He hadn’t drunk from the glass for quite a long time, and it looked like he sure as hell was never going to drink from it again, and for all Bernie could tell from looking at him, the fat bastard might be dead.
–Fletcher Flora, Let Me Kill You, Sweetheart
June 26, 2018
Just last week, I highlighted a Cocktail Talk quote from an old noir novel called Park Avenue Tramp
, which (as detailed there) was part of a Stark House Noir Classics collection that features three out-of-print noir novels all together. These collections are really worthy reads if you dig the pulps, noirs, and pocketbooks-with-saucy-covers, because they feature books not easily picked up today. In this collection, I liked all three reads, but my favorite might have been The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed
, by Charles Runyon. A small town serial killer search, in a way, it moved fast, had a fair amount of twists and turns, tight and creative lingo and well-written prose-ing, and a female lead who showed some gumption. All good stuff! And a good Cocktail Talk quote about a country bar, which you’ll see below.
It was a little gas station and honky-tonk; the kind you see around the country with names like Burntwood Inn and Cozy Dell. This one was called Pine Cover Tavern and was crowded (there was no work in the fields because of the rain) with men in overalls and a couple of women in print dresses. We drew stares as we walked to a booth in the back. I felt wicked and daring, and though it was unlikely that any Shermanites would see me, I found that I didn’t really care if they did. I told Curt to order me a boilermaker: a glass of beer with a shot of bourbon inside it. He ordered the same for himself and drank silently for a few minutes.
–Charles Runyon, The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed
June 15, 2018
We are now moving our individual boats and vessels into what – for many – counts as vacation season. Which means it’s a time for fun, but also, naturally, a time for waiting in lines. Now, I’m not saying you should be drinking while waiting in said lines, but hey, once you get through said lines, you may well need a refreshing drink, and perhaps one with a little kick, and one which references the vacationing and such because if we can’t come full circle, then it’s worth asking what it’s all for, anyway, and summer certainly isn’t the season for such deep questionings. I mean, it’s summer!
This here drink fits said bill, cozily, and in a Washington-state-meets-France way, as it only contains three ingredients, and two are from WA and one from FR. First up, Vashon-island- (speaking of ferry lines) made Seattle Distilling Company Idle Hour single malt whiskey, a delicious Irish-whiskey-leaning single malt. Second, France’s legendary herbal liqueur Bénédictine. Third, originally, at least, when I first made this, many vacations ago, was another Vashon Island hit, Vashon Brewing Company’s Cherrywood Smoked porter. Now, this is a delicacy – heck, all three are! But if you absolutely can’t find it, you could sub in another porter, and be okay. Better than okay, even! And while it’s won’t be the same journey, it’ll still fulfill that post-line-waiting need in a dandy manner.
The Idle Ferry
1-1/2 ounces Seattle Distilling Company Idle Hour single malt whiskey
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
4 ounces Vashon Brewing Company’s Cherrywood Smoked porter
1. Add three or four ice cubes to a highball or comparable glass. Add the whiskey and the Benedictine. Stir.
2. Carefully add the porter to the glass. Stir carefully, from the bottom up.
June 12, 2018
Picked up another of the Day Keene short story collections recently, this one called The Case of the Bearded Bride
(it’s Volume 4 of the series bringing all his stories from the old detective pulp magazines), and it’s full of the same Day Keene delicious-ness as the earlier volumes. And by that I mean, fast-paced yarns that are sometimes hard-boiled, sometimes mysterious, sometimes noir-ish, and always fun to read. The proofing here as with past volumes leaves a lot to be desired, but hey, it’s just sweet these stories are back in print. There’s a fair amount of bars and booze in them, but I picked a beer quote for this volume’s Cocktail-Talk-ing (check out past Day Keene Cocktail Talks
for more sweetness), because I don’t often beer-it up, and also because I liked this portrayal of a man just out of prison. Oh, the name of this story is a humdinger, too, “It’s Better to Burn.”
Gone were the held-back jewels he had put aside as an umbrella against the day that it might rain. Gone were the luscious blondes and the redheads. Gone was his Cadillac car. All that remained were sixty-six dollars and twenty cents and the belly that even two years in a cell had failed to diminish. He promptly steered it to the nearest bar and spent a dollar and eighty cents of his capital to fill it with beer. It had been two years since he had had a drink. Mellowed by the beer, he considered his prospects. They weren’t bright.
–Day Keene, It’s Better to Burn
January 24, 2017
The wonderful William Trevor passed away lately. One of the all-time top short story writers for sure, he also wrote a number of short-ish novels which are amazing for their pace, narrative control, writing chops of course, and way that his characters both seem remarkably normal and remarkable. Anywho, if you don’t know him, read him. The Story of Lucy Gault like many of his works takes place in Ireland, and really is one whole life, including one scene with one of the memorable Irish whiskeys.
Not listening any more, Lucy read the advertisements: for Ryan’s Towel Soap, and corner beer and whiskey and Guinness’s stout. She’s asked her papa what Guinness was when they saw it written up and he said it was the stuff Henry drank. There was a bottle of whiskey they’d left behind, only a little gone from it. Power’s it was.
–William Trevor, The Story of Lucy Gault