September 5, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Our Mutual Friend, Part IV

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/77/OurMutualFriend.jpg/220px-OurMutualFriend.jpgPart IV! It’s hard to believe, but our Cocktail Talking through the marvelous Our Mutual Friend, by Mr. Charles Dickens (who is hopefully our mutual friend, as well) is almost at an end. If you’ve missed them, well, starting now don’t miss Part I, Part II, Part III, and the original Our Mutual Friend Cocktail Talk post from way back when, both because you don’t want to miss the Cocktail Talk quotes, and because you’ll get a bit more backstory about the book, and how much I love Dickens – which I know you want to hear about. Heck, you may want to ever read all the Dickens Cocktail Talks. But for the here-and-now, we’re, I believe, setting a record with the fourth Cocktail Talk in a row from the same book (well, outside a series on another Dickens. See if you can find out which one)! Neato! Also, this is going to be the first Cocktail Talk post that doesn’t really have a focus on anything to do with drinks, cocktails, booze, booze-y-ness, spirits, or exceteras. Instead, it’s dogs! Which I love even more. However, there is public house mention, so I believe (and think you’ll agree) that it works.

It was a Saturday evening, and at such a time the village dogs, always much more interested in the doings of humanity than in the affairs of their own species, were particularly active. At the general shop, at the butcher’s and at the public-house, they evinced an inquiring spirit never to be satiated. Their especial interest in the public-house would seem to imply some latent rakishness in the canine character; for little was eaten there, and they, having no taste for beer or tobacco (Mrs. Hubbard’s dog is said to have smoked, but proof is wanting), could only have been attracted by sympathy with loose convivial habits. Moreover, a most wretched fiddle played within; a fiddle so unutterably vile, that one lean long-bodied cur, with a better ear than the rest, found himself under compulsion at intervals to go round the corner and howl. Yet, even he returned to the public-house on each occasion with the tenacity of a confirmed drunkard.

–Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

August 29, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Our Mutual Friend, Part III

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/77/OurMutualFriend.jpg/220px-OurMutualFriend.jpgI’m continuing mutating the Spiked Punch into a site dedicated to the Charles Dickens classic Our Mutual Friend (okay, that may be a small fiction, but it certainly sounds like a decent idea!), which started with Part I and Part II. If you haven’t read them, I suggest firmly-but-friendly that you do so right away, to get a little backstory about the story and to ensure you don’t miss our earlier quotes (actually, don’t miss the very first one, from years back). In this Cocktail Talk, the villainous (which also comical in a way) Wegg drops a phrase about drinking straight that I want to try and remember to utilize in the future.

Mr. Venus, reminded of the duties of hospitality, produced some rum. In answer to the inquiry, “Will you mix it, Mr. Wegg?” that gentleman pleasantly rejoined, “I think not, sir. On so auspicious an occasion, I prefer to take it in the form of a Gum-Tickler.”
Mr. Boffin, declining rum, being still elevated on his pedestal, was in a convenient position to be addressed. Wegg having eyed him with an impudent air at leisure, addressed him, therefore, while refreshing himself with his dram.

–Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

August 22, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Our Mutual Friend, Part II

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/77/OurMutualFriend.jpg/220px-OurMutualFriend.jpgI started (after the predictable intro note) another round of Charles Dickens Cocktail Talks from Our Mutual Friend just a skip or two ago, so be sure you read Part I. Now is good! Okay, back? You have the set up? And are ready for this next quote? Good! It’s perhaps the very first Cocktail Talk to mention shrub, the vinegar-y mixer that’s made a comeback (like so many things) during the recent cocktail renaissance. Here, interestingly, it’s served warm to one of the novels many heroines-of-sorts (at least I think she could), in the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters, one of the many amazing bars that show up in Dickens.

“But first of all,” said Miss Abbey, “– did you ever taste shrub, child?”
Miss Wren shook her head.
“Should you like to?”
“Should if it’s good,” returned Miss Wren.
“You shall try. And, if you find it good, I’ll mix some for you with hot water. Put your poor little feet on the fender. It’s a cold, cold night, and the fog clings so.” As Miss Abbey helped her to turn her chair, her loosened bonnet dropped on the floor. “Why, what lovely hair!” cried Miss Abbey. “And enough to make wigs for all the dolls in the world. What a quantity!”
“Call THAT a quantity?” returned Miss Wren. “Poof! What do you say to the rest of it?” As she spoke, she untied a band, and the golden stream fell over herself and over the chair, and flowed down to the ground. Miss Abbey’s admiration seemed to increase her perplexity. She beckoned the Jew towards her, as she reached down the shrub-bottle from its niche, and whispered:
“Child, or woman?”
“Child in years,” was the answer; “woman in self-reliance and trial.”
“You are talking about Me, good people,” thought Miss Jenny, sitting in her golden bower, warming her feet. “I can’t hear what you say, but I know your tricks and your manners!”
The shrub, when tasted from a spoon, perfectly harmonizing with Miss Jenny’s palate, a judicious amount was mixed by Miss Potterson’s skillful hands, whereof Riah too partook. After this preliminary, Miss Abbey read the document; and, as often as she raised her eyebrows in so doing, the watchful Miss Jenny accompanied the action with an expressive and emphatic sip of the shrub and water.

–Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

August 15, 2017

Cocktail Talk: Our Mutual Friend, Part I

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/77/OurMutualFriend.jpg/220px-OurMutualFriend.jpgIn the past (relatively speaking), I had a Cocktail Talk from Our Mutual Friend, by your-pal-and-mine Mr. Charles Dickens (really, check out all the Charles Dickens Cocktail Talk posts, and revel in my love of his work). It was a post focused on the pub in the book, and as usual with Dickens – who loved a good pub – a fantastic bit of bar description. Now, in the present (relatively speaking, as it slips away and shows up again as I type), I’ve just finished re-reading (third time? Fourth? They’ll be more) Our Mutual Friend, I realized it was mad to not have more, because there are so many good Cocktail Talk-style quotes in this book about dust (you’ll need to read the book to understand that), wealth, society (still incredible relevant on those points as a reflection of today’s society), jealousy, violence (those too), love, and trust. More, too, really. It was the last finished novel for the 1800s Chuck D, and if not my favorite (I suppose, if forced to pick, it might be Bleak House, but that’s impossibly hard to pin down), right up there. Heck, there are so many good quotes in it, I might just turn this blog into an Our Mutual Friend site, starting with this rum note:

“Bring me round to the Bower,” said Silas, when the bargain was closed, “next Saturday evening, and if a sociable glass of old Jamaikey warm should meet your views, I am not the man to begrudge it.”

–Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

October 25, 2016

Cocktail Talk: Nicholas Nickleby, Part IV

nich-nickWell, it did end up being a full month of Nicholas Nickleby Cocktail Talk posts! I’m sure Dickens himself would be happy, and I’m sure happy about it, and hopefully you are, too (and if this makes no sense, please read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our tour through the drinks, and drinking quotes, from Nicholas Nickleby). This final quote comes from a charmingly crazy older man who is the Nickleby family’s neighbor for a while. And while this last Nicholas Nickleby Cocktail Talk is the shortest, it contains one of my very favorite lines.

He did not appear to take the smallest notice of what Mrs. Nickleby said, but when she ceased to speak he honoured her with a long stare, and inquired if she had quite finished.
“I have nothing more to say,” replied that lady modestly. “I really cannot say anything more.”
“Very good,” said the old gentleman, raising his voice, “then bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew.”

— Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

October 18, 2016

Cocktail Talk: Nicholas Nickleby, Part III

nich-nickFor our third Nicholas Nickleby Cocktail Talk (don’t miss Part I and Part II), we’re going to have a quote that starts at least with some words from one of the most fun, most jolly, but also most hard-to-read secondary characters perhaps in all of Dickens, John Browdie, the big Yorkshoreman with the serious accent to match. He likes his eating and drinking and joshing with his wife as much as anyone, as well as liking our main hero, and working to ensure he’s kept with a full glass.

With these words, John Browdie opened the door himself, and opening his eyes too to their utmost width, cried, as he clapped his hands together, and burst into a hearty roar:
‘Ecod, it be the godfeyther, it be the godfeyther! Tilly, here be Misther Nickleby. Gi’ us thee hond, mun. Coom awa’, coom awa’. In wi ‘un, doon beside the fire; tak’ a soop o’ thot. Dinnot say a word till thou’st droonk it a’! Oop wi’ it, mun. Ding! but I’m reeght glod to see thee.’
Adapting his action to his text, John dragged Nicholas into the kitchen, forced him down upon a huge settle beside a blazing fire, poured out from an enormous bottle about a quarter of a pint of spirits, thrust it into his hand, opened his mouth and threw back his head as a sign to him to drink it instantly, and stood with a broad grin of welcome overspreading his great red face like a jolly giant.

— Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

October 11, 2016

Cocktail Talk: Nicholas Nickleby, Part II

nich-nickWe’re going to jump right in and continue Cocktail Talking with Mr. Charles Dickens and Nicholas Nickleby, in honor of me recently re-reading it. If you missed our Nicholas Nickleby Cocktail Talk Part I, be sure and go back to read it. For this one, we’re going to head to one of the villains of the piece, and one of the great names that Dickens is so famous for: Mr. Squeers, one of the worst headmasters (vaguely, at least) in fiction, and one who is fortifying himself with “raw spirits” in the below quote.

It’s pretty nigh the time to wait upon the old woman. From what she said last night, I suspect that if I’m to succeed at all, I shall succeed tonight; so I’ll have half a glass more, to wish myself success, and put myself in spirits. Mrs Squeers, my dear, your health!’
Leering with his one eye as if the lady to whom he drank had been actually present, Mr Squeers–in his enthusiasm, no doubt–poured out a full glass, and emptied it; and as the liquor was raw spirits, and he had applied himself to the same bottle more than once already, it is not surprising that he found himself, by this time, in an extremely cheerful state, and quite enough excited for his purpose.
What this purpose was soon appeared; for, after a few turns about the room to steady himself, he took the bottle under his arm and the glass in his hand, and blowing out the candle as if he purposed being gone some time, stole out upon the staircase, and creeping softly to a door opposite his own, tapped gently at it.

— Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

October 4, 2016

Cocktail Talk: Nicholas Nickleby, Part I

nich-nickPublished originally in 1838 (that’s when it started publication, at least, as it was a serial as many books were back then), Nicholas Nickleby hasn’t yet been featured in a Cocktail Talk post, which is a little surprising, since I’ve had a fair amount of Dickens Cocktail Talking. While it’s not my favorite Dickens, and maybe is considered second tier, that just means it’s amazing. It’s a little more romantic in a way then many Dickens books, and has a more Trollopean ending (if that makes sense), but I sorta like that. It’s a long read, too, which for many today in our rush-rush world is tough (wimps), but well worth reading, and sticking with, as it really starts to roll and then you get completely involved with our eponymous hero and his family, and enemies. But while it’s here, of course, is because like most Dickens (all, probably, would be safe) books, there’s a fair amount of times in pubs, at punch bowls, and just folks sipping this and that. Enough so that I’m planning a number of quotes from it here, maybe even the whole month! Let’s see how it goes, shall we? Dickens would be happy about it, I think (he’s probably one of the most, be-fun-to-have-a-drink-with authors throughout history). I’m going to start with one from a fair of sorts, where there’s a tent with a rouge-et-noir table with a loud barker, bringing people in to play with the promise of bubbly and more.

‘Gentlemen, we’ve port, sherry, cigars, and most excellent champagne. Here, wai-ter, bring a bottle of champagne, and let’s have a dozen or fifteen cigars here–and let’s be comfortable, gentlemen–and bring some clean glasses–any time while the ball rolls!–I lost one hundred and thirty-seven pound yesterday, gentlemen, at one roll of the ball, I did indeed!–how do you do, sir?’ (recognising some knowing gentleman without any halt or change of voice, and giving a wink so slight that it seems an accident), ‘will you take a glass of sherry, sir?–here, wai-ter! bring a clean glass, and hand the sherry to this gentleman–and hand it round, will you, waiter?–this is the rooge-a-nore from Paris, gentlemen–any time while the ball rolls!–gentlemen, make your game, and back your own opinions–it’s the rooge-a-nore from Paris– quite a new game, I brought it over myself, I did indeed–gentlemen, the ball’s a-rolling!’

— Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

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