Somehow I came up with this when reading J. Robert Lennon stories. And it’s a darn good drink. A wee sweet, but well-balanced by the richness of the egg and the kick of the brandy. Dang, that’s sorta like Lennon. Maybe? Maybe. You read him and find out and let me know. One thing that’s totally for sure (like, for sure), is that if you want to create a drink this amazing, you’d better delve into the J. Robert Lennon oeuvre. You’d better.
Underlined Passages, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
If I could, through the wonders of wondrous science (c’mon science, I’m buttering you up, make this happen) either go back in time to have a drink with Mr. Charles Dickens, or go miraculously into the universe of a Dickens’ book, well, I’d be tickled. Sure, sure, I wouldn’t want to go forever (I mean, Sookie and Rory wouldn’t be around, for one. And Dr. Strange wasn’t even a thought yet), but the pub and bar scenes he relates, and his evident adoration for certain drinks, call out to me in a slightly slurred voices. And if I had to choose which of the many watering holes from the many Dickens’ books? Well, I’m not sure, but the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters from the great book Our Mutual Friend would definitely be in the running, if not running away with my vote and me. Wonder why? Read the below quote why dontcha.
The bar of the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters was a bar to soften the human breast. The available space in it was not much larger than a hackney-coach; but no one could have wished the bar bigger, that space was so girt in by corpulent little casks, and by cordial-bottles radiant with fictitious grapes in bunches, and by lemons in nets, and by biscuits in baskets, and by the polite beer-pulls that made low bows when customers were served with beer, and by the cheese in a snug corner, and by the landlady’s own small table in a snugger corner near the fire, with the cloth everlastingly laid. This haven was divided from the rough world by a glass partition and a half-door, with a leaden sill upon it for the convenience of resting your liquor; but, over this half-door the bar’s snugness so gushed forth that, albeit customers drank there standing, in a dark and draughty passage where they were shouldered by other customers passing in and out, they always appeared to drink under an enchanting delusion that they were in the bar itself.
For the rest, both the tap and parlour of the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters gave upon the river, and had red curtains matching the noses of the regular customers, and were provided with comfortable fireside tin utensils, like models of sugar-loaf hats, made in that shape that they might, with their pointed ends, seek out for themselves glowing nooks in the depths of the red coals, when they mulled your ale, or heated for you those delectable drinks, Purl, Flip, and Dog’s Nose. The first of these humming compounds was a speciality of the Porters, which, through an inscription on its door-posts, gently appealed to your feelings as, ‘The Early Purl House’. For, it would seem that Purl must always be taken early; though whether for any more distinctly stomachic reason than that, as the early bird catches the worm, so the early purl catches the customer, cannot here be resolved. It only remains to add that in the handle of the flat iron, and opposite the bar, was a very little room like a three-cornered hat, into which no direct ray of sun, moon, or star, ever penetrated, but which was superstitiously regarded as a sanctuary replete with comfort and retirement by gaslight, and on the door of which was therefore painted its alluring name: Cosy.
Well, friends, it’s been a bit of a break for the favorite cocktail-making series in the history of cocktail-making series (at least that’s what the Nielsen Company told me), the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour. I can’t say much about the break, only that the world-renowned series director and cameraman and producer of said serier is no longer allowed in Tijuana. But, but, but we’re back! And back in genius fashion as poet Ed Skoog is back in the studio, making a variation on his Dark Spirits’ favorite the Drowsy Chaperone, a new drink called the Drowsy Librarian. He also talks about Grandparents Day, Brazilians, and candy. Watch now!
To begin the New Year, the new season of the Good Spirit Cocktail to Cocktail Hour has an extra-fantastic episode, just for you. It boasts an extra-fantastic special guest: home entertainer deluxe, musical madman, media master, really, he’s a genre spanner, Mr. Mark Butler. Mark traveled all the way to the Cocktail to Cocktail studios just to teach us, and you, how to make the mysterious (Midwestern mysterious, that is) Occidental cocktail—the ideal treat for 2011 (even if it was featured in Dark Spirits a few years back). Put it on your menus people, and enjoy.
Hello hello, and sorry for the extended holiday break from blog posts. But at least I left you with the first two episodes of the new season of the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour (still four more new episodes left—can you believe it!). And, I’m back to help you start your New Year right, with a link to a blog post on the PBS blog The Daily Need, a post which features videos from four (that’s right, four) of the poets who have poems in In Their Cups: An Anthology of Poems about Drinking Places, Drinks, and Drinkers. Each poet is reading one of the poems they have in the book while sipping on a favorite drink. I can’t think of any way to kick start a cocktail-a-rific and poetic year than by watching the videos (repeatedly, to ensure the year is really all that and then some). The post includes videos featuring amazing writers (and charming drinking companions) Ed Skoog, Amy Fleury, Emily Bedard, and also a video with me (wearing a boss coat, I have to admit). So what are you waiting for? Get your year started right by heading to the Daily Need now.
For the last poem in In Their Cups week 2010 (celebrating the release and release party this Sunday for In Their Cups and the drinking poems contained therein, as if you didn’t know), I wanted to highlight one of the two poems in book by Ed Skoog (I should mention though, that he also has translations in the book from three languages–you’ll have to look to find out which languages). Without Ed, In Their Cups would have been called “Cups with Holes” and been awfully leaky, cause he not only let me put poems and translations of his own in the book, but helped me track down more poems that made the cut and are in the book, gave advice on ordering of poems and sections, drank a lot with me during the putting together of the book, and was generally helpful in every way you can think of plus a few more you’d forgotten.
If you don’t know already, Ed is one of the best poets anywhere alive today–buy his book Mister Skylight and you will be changed–but is also a drink maker of some renown, a drink consumer of much renown, and a sweet banjo player to boot who can sing the high lonesome like few others (even after a few–let’s say 5-to-10–shots). If you ever are going into a bar for the long haul (which I’m guessing you will be, probably soon), bring him along. Or at least bring this poem of his about New Orleans’ Saturn Bar, a truly divine dive, along with you as an Ed sub.
The Last Saturn Bar Poem
Around the art barn, Mike Frolich’s bar-tab
bartered paintings hang the hell that rose with him
from the Gulf of Mexico floor too fast, torturing
blood with air: maniac fish, demon in a diving bell,
and then from cadmium sunset through marsh comes
the boat bearing forward in grand roving the name
O’Neal, our bartender. Theirs are the dreams we enter,
entering the Saturn Bar’s owly heat re-tooled for unlovely
loss, the rattled corner leaning away from Chartreuse, neat,
and when I’m able to dream jukebox damaged warbling,
a Saturn-like-thing opens within me, but this is the last
Saturn Bar poem–I’ll try, I’ll try–to stop singing
shadows of St. Claude and Clouet on security camera
pavement grays we keep talking about with increasing
reluctance, ready to move on to fresh bewilderments,
spiraling neon, neon that lights up my nameless shot.
Continuing on with our week of poems from In Their Cups (in honor of the upcoming release reading which you already know lots about, and have told your friends about, and that hottie you see at the bus station) comes the poem with maybe my favorite title in the book: “Oh, For a Bowl of Fat Canary.” It’s by John Lyly, a writer in the late 1500s who had a way with words and drinks, and seems like someone you (and me) would want to spend a rowdy evening with, drinking and becoming jolly. “Canary” does not mean he was boozy enough to eat birds though. “Canary” was actually a type of sack from the Canary islands (with sack being an old term for a fortified white wine). Now, that makes it all a bit less unfriendly to our feathered friends.
In Their Cups week continues here at Spiked Punch, with another poem from the raddest collection of drinking and drinkers poems I’ve ever been associated with up to date (if you missed it, it’s a week celebrating In Their Cups because of a certain reading this Sunday). For today’s pick, I’m going with a poem celebrating one of my favorite drinks, and the drink to have the first Saturday in May–the Mint Julep of course. This poem about the legendary birth of the Mint Julep is by Charles Fenno Hoffmann, who was a New York writer, editor, and critic in the 1800s. If you’ve ever had a truly well-made Mint Julep (on May 1st or any other day), you’ll understand why he’d write such a ringing and singing and immortalizing number about the drink (and if you haven’t had a Mint Julep that matches the below, maybe we need to get you a better recipe or point you to a different watering hole).
The Mint Julep
‘Tis said that the gods on Olympus of old
(And who the bright legend profanes with a doubt?)
One night, ’mid their revels, by Bacchus were told
That his last butt of nectar had somehow run out!
But determined to send round the goblet once more,
They sued to the fairer immortals for aid
In composing a draught which, till drinking were o’er,
Should cast every wine ever drank in the shade.
Grave Ceres herself blithely yielded her corn,
And the spirit that lives in each amber-hued grain,
And which first had its birth from the dew of the morn,
Was taught to steal out in bright dewdrops again.
Pomona, whose choicest of fruits on the board
Were scattered profusely in every one’s reach,
When called on a tribute to cull from the hoard,
Expressed the mild juice of the delicate peach.
The liquids were mingled while Venus looked on
With glances so fraught with sweet magical power,
That the honey of Hybla, e’en when they were gone,
Has never been missed in the draught from that hour
Flora, then, from her bosom of fragrancy, shook,
And with roseate fingers pressed down in the bowl,
All dripping and fresh as it came from the brook,
The herb whose aroma should flavor the whole.
The draught was delicious, and loud the acclaim,
Though something seemed wanting for all to bewail,
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More