April 6, 2021

Cocktail Talk: The Widows of Malabar Hill

widows-malabar-hillThere is nothing quite like discovering a new book you enjoy, and when you add that it’s written by an author you haven’t yet read? Well, you get to feel a bit what the great explorers and their crews felt right before they yelled “land, ho!” approaching a new piece of earth. Let’s hope they treated the inhabitants as well as you treat said new book and author! I recently had this experience with a book called The Widows of Malabar Hill, written by Sujata Massey. Taking place in Bombay in 1921 (and, it turns out, Bombay and other spots in India in 1916), it features the city’s only female lawyer in that year, Perveen Mistry. The mystery around said widows, and a murder, and the history surrounding them and our lawyer is all well laid out, with chapters that take place in different times alternating in a way that keep character history and the main story both moving while drawing you in. All good, right? But what makes the book even better is its incredibly evocative descriptiveness of the time, the culture, the food, the streets, the smells, the religions, the laws and legal processes, the colors, the sounds, which brings a place and place in time I didn’t know much about to bubbling life. Not to mention it ends with a drink (see quote below)! I can’t wait to read more by Sujata Massey – and I suggest you do the same.


Smiling at him, she said, “I’ve just a few questions. I’ve heard this magnificent hotel was founded to allow equal hospitality to Indians and foreigners. Is that really true?

He nodded. “It most certainly is.”

“To allow male guest alcohol – but not the female guests – runs against the idea of equal hospitality, doesn’t it?

“Well, I – you don’t say, but –” He had no further words.

Five minutes later, Perveen had a frosty gin-lime in front of her, and Alice had her whiskey-soda.”


— Sujata Massey, The Widows of Malabar Hill

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July 9, 2019

Watch Me Talk Washington Distilleries on New Day Northwest

ndnwHello teevee fans! Recently, I was lucky enough to go on the awesome New Day Northwest show to talk about locally-made bottles of spirits and liqueurs (locally in wonderful W-A that is) for dads for Father’s Day. I know what you’re thinking – Father’s Day was last month. And you know what, you’re right! But you know (what else)? The bottles I talked about are good any day of the year. So, do yourself a favor and watch me talk about Washington distilleries on New Day Northwest.

September 19, 2017

Seattle Magazine Cocktail Catch Up

Feeling poorly because you’ve missed out on some of my recent pieces for Seattle magazine? Well, friend, feel bad no more. Check out the below and put a spring in your step and a wiggle in your walk:

June 3, 2012

Bar Hop Catch Up: Little Water Cantina, Innkeeper, the Sexton

Back a bit, I went on and on and on about writing this incredibly awesome (like, Everest-sized) short column I was starting to write for the also incredibly awesome Seattle Magazine. Then I detailed like two of the columns and never mentioned it again. Cause really, I’m like that (and by that, in this case, I mean lame). Here I am, in great position to set you up for a lost weekend of Seattle bars and then I dropped the ball. I should be riding the pine with the second team. But, I now promise to make it up to you by detailing, in easy-to-read bulleted fashion, the three Bar Hop columns you may have missed. A little drum roll, please. Great. Now, here they are:

•  Innkeeper (in Belltown)

•  Little Water Cantina (in Eastlake)

•  Sexton (in Ballard)

Let your drinking commence.

December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays from Me and Champagne Punch

Here’s what I promise to you, friends, neighbors, fellow Defenders (of all things cocktail-icious, if not the world), and those people that came to this site by accident when they were looking for A.J. Foyt’s homepage. I promise that before the year is through, the second episode of the new season of the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour (the best little cocktail video show in all the land) will be posted right here on Spiked Punch. I also promise that the below Champagne Punch recipe, handed down from generation to generation (and printed in Good Spirits, among other spots), will charm anyone you’re having over for Christmas or any other winter holiday of your choice. Since I can’t be there, dagnabbit, serve this punch and know that through the miracle magic of the holidays I’ll be toasting with you wherever I am, no matter the miles between us. And finally, let me promise one more thing: to wish you a happy holiday season. And now I’ve done it.


Champagne Punch


Serves 10


Ice (in block form if possible; if not, large chunks)

6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

4 ounces simple syrup

2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 ounces white rum

6 ounces dark rum

Once 750-milliliter bottle chilled Champagne

Orange, lime, and lemon slices, for garnish


1. Add the ice to a large punch bowl. If using chunks (as opposed to a large block of ice), fill the bowl just under halfway.


2. Add the orange juice, simple syrup, lime juice, and lemon juice. With a large spoon or ladle, stir 10 times.


3. Add the white and dark rums. Stir 10 more times.


4. Add Champagne, but not too quickly. Enjoy the moment. Add a goodly amount of orange, lime, and lemon slices. Stir, but only once.


5. Ladle into punch glasses or festive goblets. Try to ensure that every guest gets a slice of fruit and a smile.


November 13, 2011

What I’m Drinking: A Fantastic Gin and Tonic

You can call it a G&T if you want (which makes it sound coolly British), but even with the more swinging moniker I probably haven’t had one in, oh, ages. Mostly because I don’t like them, due, I think more often than not, to the tonic tasting something like wobbly aluminum. Even in today’s modern champion bars, where you’ll find homemade tonic here and there, I haven’t gone back. Beyond the tonic troubles, it also traces to a time when I wasn’t able to lay my sticky hands as readily on gin that could take the G&T to the heights I desired in my little boozy heart. So, historically, I was G&T opposed. However, recently, our pal Erika turned 40, and we hosted the party in our garage bar (please don’t tell the fuzz). And Erika, it seems, has a serious fondness for the Gin & Tonic. So, that was one of the drinks on the menu (the other I’m going to detail later in the week). To try and get it worthy of being a celebratory highlight (instead of a low light), I found the finest tonic I could here in Seattle (it was Fever Tree tonic, and it was I must admit darn good) and then mixed it up with a gin from the other side of the country that I’d recently been sent, Brooklyn Gin. Brooklyn Gin has a hefty bottle (and perhaps the heaviest lid ever) that sports all kinds of iron-mongering style, but even better was what I found inside: a gin that straddles the classic juniper-forward gins and the newer floral numbers. So, a hint of the floralness under a juniper and peppery upside that mixed with the Fever Tree tonic perfectly. We garnished this better-by-far-than-normally-served G&T with either lemon, lime, or cucumber. Erika likes the latter, and hey, it was her birthday.

Ice cubes

2 ounces Brooklyn gin (or thereabouts)

Chilled Fever Tree tonic

Cucumber slice (or lime or lemon if you want)

1. Fill a highball or rocks glass three quarters up with ice cubes. Add the gin, and then fill almost up with tonic. Stir a bit..

2. Garnish with your garnish of choice. And a happy birthday song.

November 9, 2011

Cocktail Talk: Bury Me Deep

It’s been over two years since I had a quote up here from Harold Q. Masur (though, between us, I’m guessing he hasn’t noticed), who I like cause books I have by him fit into my pockets, and because his characters don’t shy away from the sauce, and cause in the below quote he mentions three delicious boozes, and because he isn’t pulp enough to be distracting, and isn’t so light as to float away into a land of cotton candy and unicorns. Though, honestly, that doesn’t sound bad, either. Anyway, this is from a book called Bury Me Deep, and it involves a lawyerly type chasing around a drunken literary type and a girl. Which, honestly, doesn’t sound much different than some afternoons I had way back when (except the lawyerly type part).

A marble-eyed waiter with a pushed-in face and a malevolent twist to his mouth came over, snapped a napkin, nodded. I ordered bourbon for myself, Dubonnet for Dulcy, and Bob ordered a bottle of Napoleon for himself.

Bury Me Deep, Harold Q. Masur

October 26, 2011

Cocktail Talk: Killing Castro

I’ve gone into talking about my on-again, off-again, relationship (and by relationship, I mean I’m a reader and he’s an author who’s never heard of me) with pulp, police procedural, detective, etc. writer Lawrence Block already. So, I won’t go into that. But I did just read the randomest book of his, which he wrote long ago under a pseudonym he never used for another book (a fake name that I don’t know, and which isn’t listed, by the way). The book’s called Killing Castro, and that’s the basic overview. Five guys, for different reasons, get together to go kill Fidel in the 60’s, then are broken into groups, and the book has them all narrating at different parts, and also has sections of Castro history. Weird, right? Actually, pretty darn fine (I love the multiple narratives when done well). Lots of drinking, mostly of the whiskey straight variety, but the quote I liked best doesn’t even mention a specific drink. But there’s something so, matter of fact about it,. I love it (and wish I was tough enough to live it). Maybe you will, too? Maybe Castro does, too, for that matter.

‘We’ll sack out for eight hours, then send out for some food and some liquor. You drink?’


‘Good,’ Turner said. ‘We’ll get some food and we’ll get some liquor, and I’ll call somebody on the phone and get a couple of girls. We’ll eat the food and we’ll drink the liquor and we’ll lay the girls. Then we’ll go to Cuba and get our asses shot off. That sound okay to you?’

‘Sure,’ Hines said.

‘Fine,’ Turner said. ‘Now let’s get some sleep.’


–Lawrence Block, Killing Castro

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