April 26, 2016

Cocktail Talk: Miss Darkness, Part III

miss-darknessOur final Fredric Brown cocktail talk (in this run at least) comes from a story called “The Wench Is Dead,” which was later expanded into a novel. It’s about a genial drunk (who used to be high society), and murder, of course! And mishaps, and, as you’ll see below, Manhattans. Be sure to check out Part I and Part II to expand your Brown-ing. You’ll be happy you did.

‘Let’s drink our drink and then I’ve got a room around the corner. I registered double so it’ll be safe for us to go there and talk a while.’

The bartender had mixed her Manhattan and was pouring it. I ordered a refill on my whisky-high. Why not? It was going to be my last drink for a long while. The wagon from here on in, even after I got back to Chicago for at least a few weeks, until I was sure the stuff couldn’t get me, until I was sure I could do normal social drinking without letting it start me off.


–Fredric Brown, Miss Darkness

May 26, 2015

Cocktail Talk: The Glass Key, Part 2

glass-keyOkay, I’ve taken nearly a month since the Glass Key Part 1 post, and during that time haven’t been able to get this smashing Dashiell Hammett novel of politics and ka-pows out of my mind. So, that means – a second Cocktail Talk post on it. You are very lucky people (but not as lucky as when you actually read the book), cause it’s a swell, swell read, as the below demonstrates (in boozy fashion).

Lee Wilshire had returned to her table. She sat there with her cheeks between her fists, staring at the cloth.

Ned Beaumont sat down facing her. He said to the waiter: “Jimmy’s got a Manhattan that belongs to me. And I want some food. Eaten yet, Lee?”

“Yes,” she said without looking up. “I want a Silver Fizz.”

–Dashiell Hammett, The Glass Key

March 26, 2013

Cocktail Talk: Love, Liquor, and Classical Learning

It’s nice to know that the classics were full of Cocktail Talk. And nice to know that I’m still tappng into those great books, the Compleat Imbibers, those British compendiums of drink, wine, glassware, poetry, and so much more that everyone should pick up if they ever get a chance. If you don’t get a chance, well, read this quote:

Drinkers, such as Horace, were regularly mentioned in the New Year’s Honours. Indeed, Horace’s great ode on the defeat of Cleopatra begins, symbolically, with the words ‘Nunc est bibendum’: ‘Now for a drink.’ It is as if some patriotic American poet, the late Robert Frost perhaps, were to have celebrated the annihilation of an infinitely seductive female Mao tse Tung by demanding a Manhattan.

–Peter Dickinson, Love, Liquor, and Classical Learning, from The Compleat Imbiber 6

February 27, 2012

Cocktail Talk: Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints

It’s Friday! Which means you should be thinking kick-up-my-heels and not clean-up-my-kitchen. But, but, but, with work schedules that are so packed, and weekdays that don’t seem to have a stitch of free time, often the weekends end up being a time to only shepherd the house back from chaos and into shape for the next week. Well, here’s an idea–track down a copy of Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints and get some advice on how to keep a house clean with minimal effort. Or, no effort at all. Cause Madam Diller is much more about the yuks than the sweeps, being a famous comedian from back a-ways. So, the book is full of suggestions like, “leave your sink full of dirty dishes. It’s a good way to cover up the dirty sink.” Which are perfect for Friday, when you should be thinking young, wild, and free and not detergent, elbow grease, and bleach. She also talks a lot about her penny-grasping husband Fang, which leads to the below line, which I love for some odd reason, and which ties the book in to the booze blog.

When we have guests, he puts a cherry in a glass of beer and calls it a Manhattan.

— Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints

November 3, 2011

Manhattan Throw Down, Seattle Style

Hello dear readers. For those of you not living in Seattle or visiting in the next few days, feel free to walk away from this post right now (I mean walk away, too—I expect you to leave the computer on with this site up so the drunken elves that live in your house can read this). For those in Seattle, I’m sorry this is a little last minute, but there’s still time to clear your calendar so you can go to the Manhattan Experience contest (sponsored by Woodford Reserve bourbon and Esquire Magazine) this Monday, November 7th, at the Columbia Tower Club’s Columbia Room at 701 Fifth Avenue, downtown Seattle. You do have to register first (though it’s free!) at www.wellcraftedmanhattan.com. They’ll be a host of local and local-ish (all from in-state, mind you, if not in city) bartenders (well, a small host of six I think) making their updated takes on the mighty Manhattan. Does the Manhattan need an updated take? No. But, is it nice to have a bunch of drinks made in the spirit of the Manhattan? Yes. And is it even more fun if I get to judge which one is best? Double yes. And yes, I am one of the judges, which means I’ll get to spout off to someone about why the Manhattan is the Dark Knight of drinks, and my whole DC-cosmology-into-drinks theory. Which is always nice. But it’ll be nice if you’re there. So, come on by. But leave the drunken elves at home.


PS: The Manhattan photo above, which is the best Manhattan photo ever, was taken by Melissa Punch for Good Spirits. Which, if you don’t have, you should have.

October 13, 2009

Cocktail Talk: Washington Whispers Murder

Sometimes, even in a book (or comic book) you’re not especially fond of (or, haven’t grown fond of yet, because some books and comics, like cats, sneak up on you. At first, you’re all “take-it-or-leave-it” and then all-of-a-sudden you can’t put the book or comic or cat down), a quote just jumps up and makes you happy. Or, at least, this happened to me this morning while I was reading the Leslie Ford book Washington Whispers Murder. I’ve picked up a couple of Mrs. (Miss? Ms? Madame?) Ford’s books because, well, I liked the covers. And I’m a sucker. Or, sucka, if you prefer. Though I haven’t read one yet I can honestly say I dig. But what I do dig is a pitcher of Manhattans made for me when I come over to visit. Which is why I liked this quote (and cause I know you like the same–the Manhattans, that is–I figured you might like the quote, too).


Her pale blue eyes widened inquiringly as she looked at the Manhattan pitcher he’d picked up. If he’d been a magician, and the Manhattan he poured then a chinchilla rabbit, and she a child of five, her eyes couldn’t have shone with greater or more enchanted wonder.


Washington Whispers Murder, Leslie Ford

March 10, 2009

Cocktail Talk: Fright

Cornell Woolrich was one of the top crime writers of his time, though he isn’t as super well known as a couple fedora-wearing others (I supposed in-the-know crime buffs are hip to him, but hey, everyone isn’t in the know all the time)–his time being mainly the 1940s and 50s, though he had outlying books from the 1920s until the 1960s. He wrote under some assumed names, wrote literate (and pretty downbeat by and large) crime and noirish numbers, did some time in Hollywood and had movies made from his books and stories (the most cherished being the Hitchcock classic and generally kick-cinematic-ass Rear Window), and then lived the latter part of his life in a seedy hotel in NY next to or with his mother (who never read a word he wrote). I’m a fan. Not of the living in a seedy NY hotel (though maybe that’s okay, too), but of all the books of his I’ve read. Which leads to the following quote, which is from a book called Fright. Originally published in 1950 (with a dandy Hard Case reprint in 2007) under the name George Hopley, it’s not my favorite book by Mr. Woolrich, but the following quote rings right for today, a frigid day in March, a Tuesday (the gloomiest day of the week), a day that would be best spent musing about life while drinking a host of Manhattans.


Sometimes they were like pinwheels, revolving around a single colored center. The bright red cherry of a Manhattan. He must have been looking straight down into his own glass when that happened. He was on Manhattans.


— Cornell Woolrich, Fright

August 26, 2008

Cocktail Talk: Murder With Pictures

Not the best pocket book ever, but still worth a read (and the cover is sweet, with the tag line “the girl stepped over the edge of the tub”), George Harmon Coxe’s Murder with Pictures is a “Kent Murdock Mystery.” Kent’s a photographer, who solves a bit of crime on the side. You could do that in the 1930s. Here are two quotes from the book, both of which are worth repeating.

“A hot bath, a cocktail, and a change of clothes–these made a difference.”

“She contemplated the dress a moment, then stepped over to the bedside table and picked up the cocktail shaker, a severe cylinder on chromium and black enamel. She shook it five or six times, poured dark red liquid into the single silver cocktail cup. Manhattan’s were her favorite. But she had to be careful.”

— George Harmon Coxe, Murder with Pictures

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