June 4, 2019

Cocktail Talk: Night Squad, Part II

Okay, I just had to have this quote as a Cocktail Talk, even though it doesn’t technically have booze in it, but it’s such a crazy drink concoction that I couldn’t resist! If you missed the Night Squad Part I post, or the Nightfall one (which started our now trio of posts from the David Goodis collection of three books put out from Stark House), then I strongly suggest you take a little time and go back and read them to catch up a bit. Okay? Now, back? Then let me introduce you to the California Clouds.

“But Rafer’s your man. Why would he tell you a thing like that?”
“He was high,” Nellie said. “He was forty thousand feet up. On that mixture he drinks. Calls it California Clouds. Mixes it himself. A bottle of some cola drink, six aspirin tablets, two tablespoons of snuff. Puts it all together in a bowl and sips it from the spoon. In no time at all he’s up there. California Clouds.”

–David Goodis, Night Squad

May 28, 2019

Cocktail Talk: Night Squad

I’m continuing along with a little David Goodis, following our stop at Nightfall and peach cordials, all from the David Goodis Start House Noir Classics collection of three books from this prince of the bleak, breathtaking, and sometimes nearly too dark – though Night Squad doesn’t end quite in that manner, though it ain’t exactly all light and flowers, either. There’s an ex-cop gone bad and wondering about going good again, a really bad part of town run by a bad boss who really likes rowing (really!), a bar and some drunks, another bad guy trying to take over, and, well, lots of other stuff, including the below talk on booze and prices and goathead, and I don’t know what that means. Maybe you do? Maybe reading all the past David Goodis Cocktail Talks will help?

The deal is, Jim, there’s an acute shortage or funds. So let’s take whiskey, just as an instance. A legitimate bottle, a fifth, it’s four dollars and up. The contraband booze, the cooked corn and goathead, you get it for a dollar a pint. Of course sometimes it’s poison, but those times are very seldom. Maybe one batch out of five thousand, and you’ll admit that’s a tiny percentage. Chances are, when you drink the homemade juice you won’t be sick the next day. I’ve never had a hangover from the corn or the goat, and that’s more than I can say for some well-known legal brands.

–David Goodis, Night Squad

May 21, 2019

Cocktail Talk: Nightfall

I recently scored another of the Stark House Noir Classics collections (which have been featured in various Cocktail Talks back in various days), this one a trio of books by the often dark, deep, bleak, noir and pulp (though either in some ways does him a little disservice) master David Goodis! Including Nightfall, which is a twisty-and-turn-y number, a crime novel, a who-can-you-trust book, and a “this will never end well” book that actually ends well. All following the mostly main character who’s an artist and an ex-college-football player, and who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. And really, the below isn’t the most Cocktail Talk-y of all Cocktail Talks, but I love the idea of a time when people just sorta naturally had peach cordials after a big meal. Don’t miss past Goodis Cocktail Talk posts, either

The food came and they ate silently. Every now and then he lifted his eyes and watched her for a moment or so. He liked the way she ate. A quiet sort of gusto. She took her time and yet she didn’t waste any time. Her table etiquette was an easy, relaxed thing that made it a pleasure to sit her with her. After the food, Vanning ordered peach cordials. They sipped the cordials and smiled at each other.

–David Goodis, Nightfall

May 14, 2019

Cocktail Talk: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Part II

Image result for on her majesty's secret service bookThe more I mulled it over, the more I realized that having just one quote from this Ian Fleming James Bond starring classic would be a mistake of mighty proportions (if you somehow manager to miss On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Part I, as if you were skiing too fast and passed it right by, then please, go back and read that now). Especially because I find this second Cocktail Talk-ing so much fun in a silly kind of way. I mean, I like Daiquiris! I like Orange Blossoms! Sadly, there’s still a little of Bond’s backwards attitudes (as he sometimes has) today I feel, but that might be a conversation for another time. I don’t want to get us away from the below sipping.

Bond’s drink came and he was glad to find it strong. He took a long but discreet pull at it. He had noticed that the girls were drinking Colas and squashes with a sprinkling of feminine cocktails–Orange Blossoms, Daiquiris. Ruby was one of the ones with a Daiquiri. It was apparently OK to drink, but he would be careful to show a gentlemanly moderation.

–Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

May 7, 2019

Cocktail Talk: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Image result for on her majesty's secret service bookI’ve only had one other Cocktail Talk post from Ian Fleming I’m sad to admit, because (also sad to admit), I haven’t read all of his legendary James Bond books. Though I recently read On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and it reminded me that I need to go back and catch up on all of them. While a few bits are a little dated in a way, they move fast, they’re fun, and Bond seems a little less a super hero, a little more relatable somehow, than in the movies, especially the recent ones (but really, all of them in a way, though Mr. Connery is the closest, of course). This particular book is, well, I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t read it (though you should, even if you’ve seen the movies, cause they’re different indeed), but at least feel okay saying that it’s just-past-mid-way in the series, and features Bond skiing a fair amount, among other things. Moves along quickly, too, so while it might take you longer than watching a movie, it won’t cut too much into your day, and while you read, might as well have a drink! Which the below Cocktail quote might lead you to, too.

With efficient, housekeeperly movement he took out a bottle of Pinchbottle Haig & Haig, another of I.W. Harper bourbon, two pint glasses that looked like Waterford, a bucket of ice cubes, a siphon of soda, and a flagon of iced water. One by one he placed these on the desk between his chair and Bond’s. Then while Bond poured himself a stiff bourbon and water with plenty of ice, he went and sat down across the desk from Bond, reached for the Haig & Haig and said, looking Bond very directly in the eye, “I learned who you are from a good friend in the Deuxième in Paris.”

— Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

April 23, 2019

Cocktail Talk: You Can Die Laughing

Image result for you can die laughing aa fairWell, shamus lovers, it was just a few weeks back I think when I had another A.A. Fair Cocktail Talk post from The Knife Slipped, a recovered-and-printed-for-the-first-time number from the Hard Case crime folks. But I also just finished another A.A. Fair book, You Can Die Laughing, in old-time-y Pocket Book printing (which I love, too), and it was yet another swell Cool and Lam (Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, that is) yarn, with loads of twists and turns, a murder (or, ?), some fun times, and some smart thinking, and some neat-ness. If you’re scouring the used racks and see it, pick it up. And if you want more on A.A. Fair and his real, even more well-known name, and such, see all the past A.A. Fair posts. But be sure to read the below B&B beauty before you head off.

There was a juke box in the place and we did a little dancing. She was nice. I held her as close as I dared, and she flashed me a glance from time to time that did things to me. I knew she was still sizing me up, still leading me on.

We had dessert and two B&B’s. I shuddered to think of Bertha’s reaction to the expense account if I didn’t fake it.

We had another B&B, and I decided to fake hell out the expense account.

–A.A. Fair, You Can Die Laughing

April 16, 2019

Cocktail Talk: Maigret and the Minister

Image result for maigret and the ministerMy 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

March 26, 2019

Cocktail Talk: The Knife Slipped

Image result for the knife slippedWay, way, back in the balmy days of 2009, I had a Cocktail Talk post from A.A. Fair, and went through how he was actually a nom de plume (as they say) of Erle Stanley Gardner, at one time the biggest selling writer around thanks to his books about a certain lawyer named Perry Mason! You can see how I feel about all of that by reading past Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks (short version: oddly enough, I tend to like the show better than the books, though they aren’t bad, and tend to have great covers, and I like the A.A. Fair books better for some reason). Here, though, is the neat thing about The Knife Slipped. It was a lost manuscript, rejected at one time by Gardner’s publisher, and only recently re-found and published by the happening folks at Hard Case Crime. It’s a good read, too, staring Cool and Lam (Donald Cool and Bertha Lam), a detective team, and the book stands out as an early mystery for this detecting duo, giving more history around them, and just being a swell read on every side. Well worth picking up, whether you sit with me on the Gardner questions or not. And, there are slugs of Scotch.

“Dance,” I said.
Her voice was wistful. “Uh-huh. The floor is build out over the side hill, on an enclosed porch. You dance out from the tables onto this porch and look down over the city lights. They keep it almost dark out there, just a starlight effect.”
“It won’t be starlight tonight,” I said, “but a good shot of Scotch might help. How about it? Do you feel the same way about a slug of Scotch I do?
She hesitated a minute, and said, “I don’t know.”

–A.A. Fair/Erle Stanley Gardner, The Knife Slipped

Rathbun on Film