February 25, 2020
Well, as I said recently (as I’m sure you recall), I’ve been reading a book every pulp, detective, mystery, American literature lover should read, The Giant Collection of the Continental Op. By dashing (okay, I’m not the first to say this) Dashiell Hammett, author of, well, if you don’t know I feel for you, cause the list includes some of the best works from last century (including The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and The Glass Key, all seminal works of words), in this giant collection, you’ll find a huge host of stories featuring his un-named, pudgy (but tough), old-ish (but tough), work-a-day detective, and all keep the pace up, and often the body-count. A great read, I must say, so great that I had to have two Cocktail Talks from it. If you missed the first (the Golden Horseshoe Cocktail Talk) then go check it. This second one isn’t quite as drunk-y, and includes a lot of food. But I couldn’t miss it, cause it has the Continental Op drinking crème de menthe, which is both awesome and hard to picture.
Two men servants waited on us. There was a lot of food and all of it was well turned out. We are caviar, some sort of consume, sand dabs, potatoes and cucumber jelly, roast lamb, corn and string beans, asparagus, wild deck and hominy cakes, artichoke-and-tomato salad, and orange ice. We drank white wine, claret, Burgundy, coffee, and crème de menthe.
–Dashiell Hammett, The Farewell Murder
September 10, 2019
I know, I know, I’ve had a lot of Maigret Cocktail Talks, but when I put up a good boozy quote in The Silent Witness Cocktail Talk recently, I realized I had to have one from Maigret and the Informer, too. See, if you missed that recent Cocktail Talking, I picked up both of these in one of those books-that-contain-two-books, which used to be a thing, and which I think is fun. Often, it was two books by the same author, but sometimes, you see two different authors, sharing the same genre. Here, it worked wonderfully, with the dry, stoic (but funny, in his way) French Inspector Maigret back-to-back with an American PI, Jack Fenner, also a little dry and stoic (and funny in his way). Both crime-solvers like a drink, too. This George Simenon book is an good one (most are!), with a restaurateur killed, young gangsters, a trip to the south of France, an informer on the run, a quirky cop, a cheating wife – all you could want, really! Plus, it all starts with a dinner at the Maigret house (they have Doctor Pardon and his wife over for dinner once a month if you were wondering), one I would have liked to have been at.
The women would take advantage of the occasion to put on a great spread and to exchange recipes, while the men would gossip idly, drinking Alsatian gin or raspberry brandy.
The dinner had been particularly successful. Madame Maigret had made a guinea-hen pie and the superintendent had brought out of his cellar one of the last bottles of an old Chateauneuf de Pape he had once bought a case of, marked down, when he was in Rue Drouot.
The wine was exceptionally good, and the two men hadn’t left a drop. How many liqueur glasses of brandy had they had afterwards? At any rate, suddenly awakened at two o’clock in the morning, Maigret did not feel his best.
— George Simenon, Maigret and the Informer
June 7, 2019
“And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.”
It is a wild historical fact which I’ve uncovered, as well as just some wild genius, that T.S. Eliot, years ago, wrote a poem (Little Gidding, part of Four Quartets) about this drink that I invented just weeks or months ago. I mean, looking into the future that way is phenomenal! And the drink in itself is fairly phenomenal (I say, humbly) as it mixes together a few ingredients that you might not have thought went together: rosé wine and tequila (which of course is made with fire in a way). But they do! As Eliot predicted. Amazing. Not sure how the other two ingredients tie into the poem, but I feel that’s my fault, not being great at literary criticism. Oh, those other two ingredients include Bluewater’s lovely, and limited (so come out here and get when you can), tantalizing floral and spice Cardamon Elderflower liqueur, and the also lovely Carpano Bianco vermouth, which has a delicate wine, citrus-and-other-fruit, springtime botanical nature. Really, this is a pretty poetic drink all told! Try it, while reading the poem, and see if you agree. And if you don’t, take it up with Eliot.
1-1/2 ounces rosé (something dry but with floral accents works nicely)
1-1/2 tequila blanco
1/2 ounce Bluewater Cardamon Elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce Carpano Bianco vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add our four core lines (or boozes, that is). Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with the twist, and get your poetry going.
March 5, 2019
Let’s have one more from the fine three-novels-in-one-book Fletcher Flora collection from Stark House. We’ve had quotes from the first two books in there (check out all of the Fletcher Flora Cocktail Talks to see those – and more!), and to bring things all full circle and such, wanted to have one from the last book, Take Me Home. While it was probably my least favorite of the three, it, like the others especially when taken all together, shows the versatility and reach of Flora. Take Me Home is definitely still a good read, just leaning more towards noir-ish slice of life of a few characters in, if not desperate, awfully close, states. As opposed to the more mystery-side, or crime side, of the first two books. And the below quote about port is one no-one wants to miss.
“Dark port would be nice,” she said. “It’s not so dry as some of the others, and besides, it’s stronger than most of them.”
“You mean it has more alcohol?”
“Yes. Port has around twenty per cent and most of the dry wines have only twelve or fourteen.”
“That’s a good thing to know. I’ll remember that.”
“Oh yes. Port is six or eight percent stronger.”
“A bottle of dark port, please” Henry said to the clerk.
–Fletcher Flora, Take Me Home
December 25, 2018
Another choice read and Cocktail Talk from George Simenon and my pal (well, it almost feels like it now – check out the past Maigret Cocktail Talks) Inspector Maigret. This read, Lock 14, that is, takes place as you might expect at a lock, and not only is it a regular atmospheric mighty Maigret mystery, but it’s also an interesting look into how commerce and people operated along the lock series and system at the time (for example, I had no idea how many barges were pulled along by horses that were kept on board, with their “carter” who led them and took care of them), and the bars that sprung up alongside the locks. The below is a good little look into one.
The lockkeeper accompanied his relations as far as the main road to Epernay, which crossed the canal two miles from the lock.
He saw nothing unusual. As he was passing the Café la Marine on his way back, he looked inside and was hailed by a pilot.
“Come and have a drop! You’re soaking wet . . .”
He had a rum, still standing. Two carters got to their feet, sluggish with red wine, their eyes shining, and made for the stable adjoining the café, where they slept on the straw next to their horses.
They were not exactly drunk. But they had had enough wine to send them into a heavy sleep.
–George Simenon, Lock 14
September 18, 2018
Our re-visit to the Trollope late-period romantic comedy Ayala’s Angel continues (be sure to dip your toes into Part I, as well as our first Ayala’s Angel Cocktail Talk from years ago, so that you get a little more background on the book, as well as adding a few more smiles and cocktail-ing to your day), with a little sherry and bitters and some nice ranting about sherry and bitters.
Sir Thomas went on, with a servant at his heels, chucking about the doors rather violently, till he found Mr. Traffick alone in the drawing-room. Mr. Traffick had had a glass of sherry and bitters brought in for his refreshment, and Sir Thomas saw the glass on the mantelpiece. He never took sherry and bitters himself. One glass of wine, with his two o’clock mutton chop, sufficed him till dinner. It was all very well to be a Member of Parliament, but, after all, Members of Parliament never do anything. Men who work don’t take sherry and bitters! Men who work don’t put their hats in other people’s halls without leave from the master of the house!
—Ayala’s Angel, Anthony Trollope
August 7, 2018
Sometimes a book’s title says enough – enough to make me pick it up, at least, as is the case here. I mean, Hot Summer, Cold Murder
is an amazing title. Amazing! Add to the fact that this book was written by Gaylord Dold, who I’ve never read before but who is a pal of a pal of my mom (or something like that), and that my very mom gave me this book, and, well, I was excited to read it. And it was a good, solid read, with a down-on-his-luck, muscatel-swilling P.I., a mystery and (as the title tells us) a murder, a lot of double-dealing and shady-at-best characters and cops, alluring and dangerous ladies, and more, all happening in Wichita! Amazing, as I’ve said. It’s a little in the hard-boiled tradition, but has a 70s-mystery vibe too, while taking place in the 60s I believe, and published in the 80s. Worth tracking down if you’re intrigued (and if the above doesn’t intrigue you, then you should check your pulse) – and I haven’t even mentioned the Cocktail Talk-ing, like the below:
In the same twenty minutes one beat-up Plymouth cruised past on Lincoln Street and no-one went into the barbershop next door. When it was that hot and dead I always drank sweet muscatel, and when it got bad enough I thought about my ex-wife Linda. After five years, the memories never got any better.
— Gaylord Dodd, Hot Summer, Cold Murder
July 13, 2018
Why, just last week, here on the Spiked Punch blog, I had a delicious summer drink (if I can say that humbly) called Pina’s Potion, which used Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé – a bottle of which had shown up via the post. If you haven’t checked that recipe out, you’re in for a treat! Go read about rose cocktail Pina’s Potion now, to learn a bit more about Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé and to make your summer better.
Back? Yay! Well, I liked this rosé so much, that I wanted to go down another road with it, because the flavor profile gives lots of avenues one could travel, all different, like every animal is different. To prove this furry point, I give you another rosé cocktail, called Such Animals of Summer. A slightly different (as mentioned) mix, it mingles our rose with another summertime treat, Washington state-based Sidetrack Distillery’s Strawberry Liqueur (they grow the strawberries right on their farm! dreamy), and another French friend for our French rosé, Dolin’s Blanc vermouth, a refreshing, citrusy, teensily sweet number. All together a light, flavorful, cocktail that’s ideal as the summer night approaches.
Such Animals of Summer
2 ounces Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé
3/4 ounce Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur
1/2 Dolin Blanc vermouth
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the moment.