June 9, 2020
As I, like others, have been at home perhaps more than usual lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading (well, I do a lot all the time, but even more perhaps), and one thing I dove into during this time was The Complete Father Brown Stories by old G.K. Chesterton, which is a massive tome – ideal for right now! And I have to admit (cause we’re all pals here), that I watched the currently TV Father Brown tele show before reading any of the stories. Which is weird, cause usually I go at it the other way round. And, even weirdly, since we’re admitting things, I like the TV show better. Don’t throw things at me. Mark Williams is a genius actor, I like the small town England focus, and, well, I like his Father Brown a bit more than the book one. And skipping some of G.K.’s dated and wrong, oh, opinions, is okay, too. Which is not to say that the stories in the main aren’t good and shouldn’t be read. They totally should be, cause lots and lots of awesome is contained therein. Enough that I’m going to have a trio of Cocktail Talks from different stories, starting with below brandy bellowing.
“And you will have your usual, Sir,” said Mr. Wills leaning and leering across the counter.
“It’s the only decent stuff you’ve still got,” snorted Mr. Raggley, slapping down his queer and antiquated hat, “Damn it, I sometimes think the only English thing left in England is cherry brandy. Cherry brandy does taste of cherries. Can you find me any beer that tastes of hops, or any cider that tastes of apples, or any wine that has the remotest indication of being made out of grapes? There’s an infernal swindle going on now in every inn in the country, that would have raised a revolution in any other country. I’ve found out a thing or two about it, I can tell you. You wait till I can get it printed, and people will sit up. If I could stop our people being poisoned with all this bad drink——”
— G.K. Chesterton, “The Quick One”
May 22, 2020
Does it show some sort of psychic issue, or alien implantation, or the influence of malevolent fairies that I like having this drink called The Snow Ball (“this” cause I feel there are an inordinate amount of drinks carrying the same name, but this one is what I particularly mean when using said chilly moniker) not so much when it’s snowing season, but when we’re heading into sunshine season? It could be one of those three things, surely, right? I mean, admittedly, this drink is tall, refreshing, smooth, bubbly, the opposite of a malevolent fairy mostly, so it makes sense to have it when the sun is all a-flutter and hot, to me. It also makes sense if you can to use Seattle Distilling Company brandy (read more about Seattle Distilling Company brandy if it makes you happy); however, I understand that for many this is as difficult as a snowball in June, so do what’s best for you and don’t be too sad. Oh, you know, thinking it over, you could just use an egg white, as opposed to the whole egg here – egg whites being more the norm for drinks in this modern age. If having this for a May breakfast, I’d still go the whole route (and wouldn’t drive to work afterwards).
The Snow Ball
2 ounces brandy
1 ounce Simple Syrup
Chilled ginger ale
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, simple syrup, and egg. Shake very well.
2. Fill a Collins glass or hefty highball three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the well-shaken mix over the ice.
3. Top the glass off with ginger ale. Stir, but calmly.
May 15, 2020
Well, as you know (if you don’t, welcome back from Mars I suppose), we have been and still are in the thick of some mad times. Said times keeping most around the world at home many more hours than usual, which has led many to muscular feats of home-organizing as a way to while away the time, or to catch up with projects that once seemed perfectly fine being set aside. If you have a fair amount of bottles of brown, clear, red, green, grey, blue, yellow, bottles glittering with the promise of delicious deliciousness, bottles that when opened have the capacity to unleash tongues in song while loosening the chains on the soul (if you’ll allow me a little hyperbole), bottles filled with spirits, liqueurs, bitters, and beauty, that is, if you have these, then, like me, those bottles fall into a “home-organizing feat” normally put off. But, due to said mad times, my wonderful wife took on this herculean boozy task (I get too distracted), and organized the shelves. When doing so, she found a few bottles that seemed to have just a sip here or there left in them, and moved them frontwards, enticing me to drink ‘em up. That, friends, is all preamble to the below cocktail, which at first glance may seem an odd combination: cherry brandy, rye, and allspice dram? But being trapped at home can take you down some paths that may at first appear odd. In this case, however, the path ended so pleasantly, I’m probably going to have to go to the store to restock the shelves so I have all these ingredients. But if you look them over and say to yourself, “what the hell,” step back, and think “what the lockdown leftovers?” Cause that’s what this tasty treat really is.
What the LL
1-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. rye
1/2 ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1/2 ounce It’s 5 Cherry brandy
3/4 ounce freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 ounces club soda
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rye, allspice dram, brandy, and oj. Shake well.
2. Add one big ice cube or a couple decent-sized ice cubes to a chalice of some glittering kind (no need to turn into savages). If none is at hand, an Old Fashioned glass, big one that is, can work.
3. Strain the drink through a fine strainer into the glass. Top with the club soda. Stir carefully to combine.
May 5, 2020
Robert Bloch was a well-known writer, novelist, short-story-ist, pulper, and though he wrote a fair amount of crime fiction, his best known work is Psycho, which as you could probably guess was the book made into the famous Hitchcock film. He started, interestingly enough, as a student of the legendary brain expanding horror master H.P. Lovecraft, even. Wowsa! But here we’re taking a nice quote from a crime novel, Spiderweb, which was originally an Ace Double, meaning a book from well-known pocket-book publisher Ace that actually contained two books – whatta deal! Here, it was with David Alexander’s The Corpse in My Bed. Though I don’t have that book (I might like to have it!); instead, I have a modern reprint of it from the happening folks at Hard Case Crime. Here’s the ringer: said modern reprint is also a twofer, combining Spiderweb with another Bloch book, Shooting Star. Get it! And enjoy the short quote below, which I thought would fit nicely with the last Friday Night Cocktail, I Should Classicoco, as they both have an apricot component.
’Your order?’ I looked at her. Then, ‘two apricot brandies.’ She slid into the booth across from me and she smiled.
–Robert Bloch, Spiderweb
April 7, 2020
Only weeks in the past, I had a Cocktail Talk from the Robert Barnard story “Boxing Unclever,” which was featured in the awesome anthology The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, which is both big as advertised (my version nearly 800 pages) and bouncing over with holiday cheer – meaning, murders, thievery, and the like, with authors ranging from 100s (or thereabouts) of years old to more modern fare. It’s a winter gem! This Cocktail Talk is in the older bracket, though not old in a pejorative sense! The story is by Damon Runyon, and, weirdly, I used to rent an apartment near where he was born in Manhattan, KS! He made his mark in the other Manhattan, where his writing on the glittering and tarnished made him famous. This story starts on a scrumptious holiday high note with the below quote, and then rolls its prohibition-y way from there, in a language and style right on time.
Now one time it comes on Christmas, and in fact it is the evening before Christmas, and I am in Good Time Charley Bernstein’s little speakeasy in West Forty-seventh Street, wishing Charley a Merry Christmas and having a few hot Tom and Jerrys with him.
This hot Tom and Jerry is an old time drink that is once used by one and all in this country to celebrate Christmas with, and in fact it is one so popular that many people think Christmas is invented only to furnish an excuse for hot Tom and Jerry, although of course this is by no means true.
–Damon Runyon, Dancing Dan’s Christmas
March 4, 2020
I’ve never had a Cocktail Talk from Dan J. Marlowe before – welcome to the site, Mr. Marlowe! A fairly well-known writer of mid-century hardboiled crime fiction (and other things, here and there), Mr. Marlowe had two sort-of series, one with a guy named Drake (I’ve never read any of these) and one with a guy named Johnny Killain – The Fatal Frails stars the latter, and this is my first with him – and then a bunch of books without an on-going lead. My favorite book of his falls in the latter group, though The Fatal Frails with Mr. Killain (a sort-of rough-and-tumble type who is both quite a brawler and quite a lady magnet) was pretty fun, so maybe I’ll try another. The fun thing about Mr. Marlowe outside the books is that he actually hung out with a bank robber, and a murderer, and co-wrote some stories with the former, so lived the life a bit. And, he wrote the below Cocktail Talk, which may be the only French Seventy-five mention I’ve seen in a pulp – with a bonus, throwing itself into one side of a discussion mostly won by the other side these days, meaning Cognac vs. gin in said drink. Nice that it’s harder to say the drink is “much-neglected” these days, too!
His glance that had difficulty in focusing moved over to Johnny speculatively. “Although I don’t know how you knew. I was – disturbed, last evening. Upset, if you like. I am given to moods. I have – treatment for them. Early in the evening I repaired to a little place I know where the bartender is an artist in the preparation of that much-neglected drink, the French Seventy-five.” He smiled at Johnny, not quite vacuously despite the clouded eyes. “You’re familiar with the drink? Champagne over a Cognac base? Terrific morale builder. I had – several, after which I decided a spot of visiting was in order.”
–Dan J. Marlowe, The Fatal Frails
February 14, 2020
You know, I think this here lovely drink is such a nice and lovely one for lovely Valentine’s Day that I’ve probably had it on this (lovely) blog before around the heart-iest day of the year. But today is the actual day! Not just close. You knew this right? I mean, you are on it, and have the appropriate gifts etc. for your sweetest, or if single, for yourself (I mean, you deserve it)? It is, naturally, a holiday created for commerce (if you can spare me a non-lovely thought), but darn it all, still fun, or, at least, still a lovely excuse for the below drink for the lovely couples and lovely singles in the house. What a combo! Brandy! Aperol! Sweetness! Citrus! Lovely! Admittedly, a smidge on the dessert-y side for some lovely folks, but hey, if that’s not you, here’s what you do – up the lovely brandy a bit. Just like that, a Valentine’s Day dream, ideal for you, lovely you.
Ti Penso Sempre, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2
3 ounce brandy
2 ounces Aperol
1 ounce simple syrup
2 orange slices, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Aperol, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain the mix equally into 2 cocktail glasses.
February 4, 2020
Well, I decided I needed a second Cocktail Talk from the Simenon book where Superintendent (at this point) Maigret mingles with the uber rich – don’t miss Part I. In it, I have a quote that’s respectably boozy, but doesn’t actually have our stoic Superintendent himself having a drink. So, here we are, with the below quote from a time when Calvados wasn’t considered the smart thing it seems – hard to believe that now.
There were many people there, and the air was thick with cigar and cigarette smoke; besides the superintendent’s, there was only one other pipe smoker.
“What can I give you?”
“Do you have any Calvados?”
He didn’t see any on the shelves, where every brand of whisky was displayed. The barman unearthed a bottle, however, and filled a huge balloon-shaped glass, as if any other sort of vessel for liquor was unknown here.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Millionaires