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.
July 6, 2018
Rosé (the wine, to be clear) is now a celebrated part of many people’s summers. With good reason, due to its light, easy-going-but-flavorful natures (in most situations, that is). Actually, it’s connected so closely with summer, it’s almost a cliché – but what a tasty cliché! However, rosé cocktails aren’t so en vogue, which is a shame, because with the right rosé, you can make a layered, lovely, drink that also fits summer like a well-made bathing suit. I recently received a bottle (I know, lucky!) of Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé to prove this theory (well, is it a theory, if I’ve already proved it? I guess now it’s a rule? A law? Something along those lines, but I don’t want to get too sidetracked). A subtle glowing pink color, this rosé has the wine’s refreshing characteristics and an approachable crispness, with attractive fruits notes on the nose and tongue – both citrus and strawberries and more.
It’s worthy when the sun’s out all on its own, but also a perfect plaything when mixed with others. In this case, those others began with Sipsmith London Dry gin, a classic dry gin with just the right juniper surrounded by botanicals and citrus. Then, thinking of our rosé French history, I decided on another French favorite, Pineau Francois white pineau, an aperitif that has a grape-and-hints-of-orange-citrus delightfulness. With that trio in place, the drink was solidly sippable, but not to the heights I wanted. So, I brought in a fourth player, Scrappy’s unbelievable Black Lemon bitters (if you don’t know Scrappy’s read all about Scrappy’s), which brought an earth lemon-ness that rounded everything off. All together – yummy, and a hit for any summer party.
1-1/2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry Gin
3/4 ounces Pineau Francois white pineau
2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters
3 ounces chilled Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass hallway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, pineau, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain the above into a white wine glass. Add the rosé. Stir, gently, to combine.
April 27, 2018
I can’t really tell you anything about the creation of this drink – what to led to it at least. It’s a secret, in a way, and in another way, I just can’t remember. This is a big drink! And one that’s interesting, in yet another way (a third way?), in that it marries wine and rum, yet I didn’t think of it for Wine Cocktails, instead thought of it for a pal o’ mine . . . but wait, I can’t tell you about that. In a way (fourth way), it almost feels this could be a wonderful winter warmer, in a mulled wine way (fifth). Especially because it also has a coffee component, which goes well with warming liquids, but gives it a way (the sixth way) into being a morning drink, too. Though I like it best served cold, after dinner, where it’s deep, dark, nature would go well in our seventh way, with chocolate. Hence the reason it’s called what it’s called, instead of the honestly-makes-more-sense “seventh way.”
The Foregone Conclusion
3 ounces Cesari Sangiovese Riserva or another intense full-bodied red wine
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Galliano Ristretto or other tasty coffee liqueur
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a goblet or wine glass. Or two, if you feel like sharing – this is a good-sized drink, and sharing might not be bad.
March 20, 2018
I have had a pretty punch-bowl-sized number of Charles Dickens Cocktail Talk posts
. Which, if you mull it over for even a minute, makes a bunch of sense, as Dickens remains one of the top ten drinking writers, with his love of pubs, hot drinks, punches, and folks that hang around when and where those things are consumed. Dombey and Son
(I think his sixth book) isn’t as roundly known as some of the others, or as roundly made into TV movies (though I wish an amazing version would happen – c’mon BBC!), but is I think one of my favs. Maybe because I just recently re-read it after leaving my old copy somewhere along my travels and finally got a new one. Or maybe because Dickens’ take on pride, money, and gender is so compelling as he winds our emotions through a story of a company, a family, and some really funny seafaring fellas. It was (for reasons I won’t touch on here, in case you haven’t read it) one of his more shocking books for the audience of his time, too. If you’ve missed it, hopefully the brief notes just typed by me get you to pick it up. But if they don’t work, I’m going to try a couple sweet Cocktail Talk posts with some direct quotes sure to hook you – and maybe make you thirsty.
There was another thing that Paul observed. Mr Feeder, after imbibing several custard-cups of negus, began to enjoy himself. The dancing in general was ceremonious, and the music rather solemn – a little like church music in fact – but after the custard-cups, Mr Feeder told Mr Toots that he was going to throw a little spirit into the thing. After that, Mr Feeder not only began to dance as if he meant dancing and nothing else, but secretly to stimulate the music to perform wild tunes. Further, he became particular in his attentions to the ladies; and dancing with Miss Blimber, whispered to her – whispered to her!
— Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son
February 23, 2018
I wish I could say with certainty that this drink was named after Mercurio, the 4-D Man, a fella from the planet Gramos who fought Thor and the wacky Warriors Three, as well as a bunch of other heroes and such in the mighty Marvel universe, utilizing both fire and ice powers. However! I don’t know that this drink was named after said alien, or the Mexican wrestler of the same name, or the Chilean newspaper. My guess? A misspelling of a Willy S character, or after the planet Mercury. When all is said and done, though, does it matter? This is a swell sipper for around 10 folks, one that’s a bit bubbly, a bit brandy, and a big grape-y. Great for the end of February, when you’re just starting to feel spring might someday happen, but still chilly. Heck, they even like it on Gramos.
Mercurio Punch, from Dark Spirits
Block of ice, or ice cubes
16 ounces brandy
16 ounces purple grape juice
8 ounces Bénédictine liqueur
8 ounces simple syrup
One 750-milliliter bottle red wine (go for a Cabernet here, one with robust body)
One 2-liter bottle chilled club soda
1. Add the block of ice to a large punch bowl, or fill the bowl halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, grape juice, Benedictine, and simple syrup. Stir well.
2. Add the red wine to the cast, and stir again.
3. Smoothly add the club soda, and stir a final time (or maybe a few final times—you want to get it good and combined). Serve in punch glasses.