December 21, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Some Slips Don’t Show, Part III

some-slips-don't-showAs we wind our way into the final Some Slips Don’t Show Cocktail Talk (by the way: love the book cover here!), we find ourselves back at a situation touched on briefly in the book’s Cocktail Talk Part I (don’t miss Part II, either), where the real star of the series, detective Donald Lam (don’t tell his partner Bertha Cool I said he was the star, though), is getting cuddlier with one of the murder suspects in this here tale. And, as happens in the books (written by Erle Stanley Gardner writing as A.A. Fair), this cuddling, or prelude to cuddling, happens over drinks. Doubles, even.

A waiter came over and she ordered a double Manhattan.

“Single for me,” I said.

“Bring him a double, she said, smiling at the waiter. “I don’t want to get ahead of him.”

The waiter nodded and withdrew.

We nibbled pretzels and did a little verbal sparring until the waiter came back with the Manhattans. They were both doubles.


–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show

October 26, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Phantom Lady

phantom-ladyI went down a large Cornell Woolrich hole at one point in my life, and in some ways never came out (perhaps I’m not in as deep as I once was, which isn’t to say my liking of books by said author is less, but maybe to say I’ve read such a fair amount of those available that there aren’t that many more readily available) – heck, check out the past Cornell Woolrich Cocktail Talks for evidence. There are a fair few of them! You’ll get lots of background on this, the noir-y-est (in many ways – I mean, no mystery writer uses the word “black” in more titles for a start, but also he’s such a master of psychological dark moods and mental, as well as action-driven, thrillers that seem going down a dark path) of the pulp writers, perhaps. He also wrote under a couple pseudonyms, the best-known being William Irish, under-which name he became famous enough that I have a copy of The Best of William Irish which I was recently re-reading. Featuring two full-length reads and a handful of stories, the book’s highlight may well be “Rear Window” (from which the legendary movie was made, which you should re-watch right now), which, funny enough, I think was pub’d under Cornell’s own name originally (and originally called “It Had to be Murder”). But if you have a story which a famous movie is based on, you work it in. The whole collection starts with perhaps the most famous William Irish-monikered tale (though that could be debated), the novel Phantom Lady, which I am also lucky enough to have as a standalone book, and which was also made into a movie in 1944, a movie I haven’t seen, but would love to! The book’s chapters all countdown to an execution (28 Days Before the Execution, etc.), which gives an insight into the plot: a man is accused – falsely, we know – of the murder of his wife, with only one possible way to convince the police he’s innocent, finding of a missing woman who can place him at a bar at a particular time. It’s a good read and then some, keeping you moving and twisting around this way and that way, with a few more murders and lots of surprises. Having a bar with a key role doesn’t hurt, either, and neither does the mention of Jack Rose cocktails, among others, in the below Cocktail Talk quote.


He said, “I had a Scotch and water. I always have that, never anything else. Give me just a minute now, to see if I can get hers. It was all the way down near the bottom –“

The barman came back with a large tin box.

Henderson said, rubbing his forehead, “There was a cherry left in the bottom of the glass and – “

“That could be any one of six drinks. I’ll get it for you. Was the bottom stemmed or flat? And what color was the dregs? If it was a Manhattan the glass was stemmed and dregs, brown.”

Henderson said, “It was a stem-glass, she was fiddling with it. But the dregs weren’t brown, now, they were pink, like.”

“Jack Rose,” said the barman briskly. “I can get it for you easy, now.”


–Cornell Woolrich (writing as William Irish), Phantom Lady

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 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

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