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
March 8, 2016
Well, here’s a first I believe – a Jane Austen Cocktail Talk. Not weird, really, since I love some Jane, and I was also recently in Bath, where I trod the streets she walked (so to speak), and had fun doing it. However, weird in the fact that there’s not a ton of drinking it up in Jane, so the quotes applicable to the Cocktail Talking are fairly few and far between. However, I was re-reading Northanger Abbey recently, cause of the Bath-ing that goes on in and my recent visit, and came across a pretty swell, boastfully funny, bit about drinking at Oxford:
“Lord help you! — You women are always thinking of men’s being in liquor. Why, you do not suppose a man is overset by a bottle? I am sure of this — that if everybody was to drink their bottle a-day, there would not be half the disorders in the world there are now. It would be a famous good thing for us all.”
“I cannot believe it.”
“Oh! lord, it would be the saving of thousands. There is not the hundredth part of the wine consumed in this kingdom that there ought to be. Our foggy climate wants help.”
“And yet I have heard that there is a great deal of wine drunk in Oxford.”
“Oxford! There is no drinking at Oxford now, I assure you. Nobody drinks there. You would hardly meet with a man who goes beyond his four pints at the utmost. Now, for instance, it was reckoned a remarkable thing, at the last party in my rooms, that upon an average we cleared about five pints a head. It was looked upon as something out of the common way. Mine is famous good stuff, to be sure. You would not often meet with anything like it in Oxford — and that may account for it. But this will just give you a notion of the general rate of drinking there.”
— Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
January 22, 2016
I was recently flying into an airport (I don’t want to irritate said airport, so I’m resisting the urge to name, or to sound too complain-y), and not 25 minutes before landing, we were re-routed due to fog. It seemed strange – we were so close! But I figure the pilots and ATC folks know way, way better than I. And while I’m not really making a comparison, or saying I know better than anyone, really, but . . . you’ll let me now turn that little story into talking about the Black Fog, a drink that seems a little strange at first glance. But one which is darn tasty. Really! Trust me.
Black Fog, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
One 12-ounce can Guinness stout
1 ounce framboise
1 or 2 mint leaves, for garnish
1. Fill a pint glass almost to the top with the Guinness.
2. Slowly pour the framboise into the glass, swirling it as you pour. Garnish with a mint leaf (or two, if you’re feeling it).
A Variation: Sometimes this is mixed using the French black raspberry liqueur Chambord, but I like the slightly stronger framboise (which is usually made from regular red raspberries and has a bit more kick).