December 14, 2021
Before we dive into our second quote and Cocktail Talk from the Cool and Lam (being Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, the star of this book and others) mystery in question, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you towards the Some Slips Don’t Show Part I Cocktail Talk, and all the Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks (he being the writer of said book, as his Cool and Lam-writing alias A.A. Fair, as well as being the writer of course of some books about a lawyer named Perry Freaking Mason), so you can enjoy more drinking fun, after you enjoy the below (which also gives some nice short insight into the Cool and Lam partnership).
“Fifty-seven smackers in one chunk?” she asked, he voice rasping.
“What’s it for? You could have got that broad drunk on gin at a total cost of five bucks. Why the Champagne?”
“It’s for a painting,” I said. “I bought it. It’s called ‘Sun over the Sahara’ and I’m going to put it in a purple frame and –”
“This is long distance, you drunken idiot,” Bertha screamed at me.
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show
December 10, 2021
Hey hey howdy-o holidays (the winter variety) are nearly upon us, and for reasons known only to the back part of my brain (and it ain’t talking) I tend to smoothly smooth my way into sweeter, creamier drinks about now. Well, maybe I can come up with some reasons. First, they tend to match all those Christmas-and-other-winter-holiday desserts perfectly. Second, on the creamy-side, these drinks often look like little winter-snow-wonderlands, at least those in dreams (and dreams are free, as the song says). Third, hmm, I get cold and drinking a lot of Alexanders and their brethren helps insult me. Does that work? The Silk Stocking definitely works as a holiday treat in the set up I’ve just set up. It’s an Alexander relation indeed, though slightly different. Well, one big difference: tequila instead of gin! That’s big. Then, the ratios in the recipe I use are slightly different than the classic Alexander’s (which is, of course, the king of dessert drinks), and I like them here cause that slightly smoky tequila-ness is allowed to shine, and allowed to mingle more firmly with the chocolate-y crème de cacao, while still having the cream to dress things up like a nice holiday suit (one snow white). A little cinnamon on top, and, delicious is unwrapped like a favorite present with each sip. Yummski.
The Silk Stocking
1-1/2 ounces tequila blanco
1-1/2 ounces crème de cacao
1 ounce heavy cream
Grated or ground cinnamon, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the three holiday liquid pals. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a dusting of cinnamon.
A Note: My guess is there are a few Silk Stocking cocktails around – it’s such a delightful and frisky name. But this particular lineup matches it best. In my humble opinion, as they say, of course.
December 7, 2021
I have had enough A.A. Fair Cocktail Talks and Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks on the ol’ Spiked Punch for those that don’t know to now know they are the same person, right? Well, the latter, Mr. Erle, is the person I suppose, and the former, Mr. A.A., just a nom de plume (as they say), but I like to hope he at least wore different hats when writing as different people. Anyway, I’ve had a fair (haha!) enough amount of Cocktail Talks as mentioned for you to go back through them to browse my thoughts on the two personas, on the books written by them, and my feelings therein. So, don’t miss that! Cause I’m not going to go over it all here, instead want to jump right in to the drink-y quotes from this book, Some Slips Don’t Show, which stars (as all the A.A. Fair books, I believe) detective Donald Lam, and to a lesser extent, his partner Bertha Cool. In this yarn, they end up with a client who isn’t completely sure if he cheated on his wife while in San Francisco, but may be being blackmailed. Curious! And then there is a murder, and some art, and a modern lady beguiled by the diminutive (in height, somewhat, but not in smarts or stick-tuitive-ness) and dashing Donald, as ladies tend to be. But before said beguiling, there’s background around the client, who it seems had himself a night.
She laughed a throaty, musical laugh. “Trying to play the big, bad wolf was pretty much of a strain on him. He was out of character.”
“I can imagine,” I said. “What happened?”
“He started drinking Champagne like water on top of some fruit punch. The combination didn’t agree with him.”
“So, what happened?”
“He went to the bathroom.”
“Do you have to know all the details?”
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show
December 3, 2021
Can you believe it – it’s December, 2021, already. Holy time-moves-quickly! Though, even if we didn’t have calendars and suchlike to alert us to the fact, the weather outside might cause one (in the northern hemisphere, and suchlike) to think through chattering teeth, “I believe it’s December, because the cold has infested my bones.” Or, suchlike. What to do, as time machines are out of the question, currently? I mean, you can’t go back in time to escape the cold, and while putting layers of blanketing devices on your person will perhaps reduce the chill, it certainly isn’t as jolly as a good warm (or hot, even) drink. May I suggest, in this warming manner, Aunt Betsy’ Favorite? It’s a wine-based treat, one fortified as the season demands with port and brandy, and well-spiced (the season also seems to demand this – just look at holiday desserts). It also serves, depending on temperature, temperament, and suchlike, somewhere between 5 and 8 people – and, as well all know, a crowd of pals is a warming thing. So, this is doubly-warming! Take the edge off of December with it, and stay cozy, and suchlike!
Aunt Betsy’s Favorite, from Dark Spirits
24 ounces red wine (I suggest a Cabernet Sauvignon)
16 ounces tawny port
8 ounces brandy
4 ounces simple syrup
1 orange peel
3 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1. Add all of the ingredients to a medium-size saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes. You want it to get good and hot, but not start boiling, or even simmering. Reduce the heat midway through the cooking time if needed.
2. Once the 10 minutes have passed and the room smells wonderful, ladle the mix into heavy mugs. Avoid serving the orange peel, cloves, and cinnamon stick if your pals are worried about clunking up their smiles.
November 26, 2021
You’re full. I’m full. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, the fillingest holiday of the year here in the US, where many (like me!) overeat without a calorific care in the world. And even with that feasting, there still tends to be leftovers. Luckily, in the cranberry sauce case, cause then you can have the traditional post-Thanksgiving Gizmo, a Thanksgiving drink that’s been had around tables and fireplaces and back-porches for many a long year (originally created by a genius named Jeremy Holt). So, no matter your fullness level, start your shaking!
2-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce
1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and cranberry sauce, and syrup if using. Shake exceptionally well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up, Thanksgiving-style.
November 23, 2021
Another quote from the Chief Inspector Maigret yarn I’ve been most recently reading (as opposed to all of those I’ve read in the past: check out all the Maigret Cocktail Talks to get a view into some of them – at least don’t miss the Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard Part I Cocktail Talk, to learn more about this particular book by George Simenon), one where our main character sits down in a very serious and thinking mood at his favorite of all Parisian spots – or the one he visits the most, which is saying something, though it is right across from his office – and gives the waiter a little of the Maigret-ness so many criminal have to deal with.
“What’s the Veau Marengo like?”
“Excellent, Monsieur Maigret.”
Without realizing it, he was subjecting the waiter to a look that could not have been sterner if he had been a suspect under interrogation.
“No. A half-bottle of claret.”
He was just being perverse. If the waiter had suggested wine, he would have ordered beer.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard
November 16, 2021
I’m back into another George Simenon yarn starring Parisian Inspector Maigret (there have been many Maigret Cocktail Talks you can browse at will), an ideal read for a rainy November day, as during a fair part of Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard Paris is engulfed in heavy rains. And our stolid, stoic, Chief Inspector (to give him his full due) moves along through the wet and dry and cloudy days in his own particular way: slow at times, thoughtful at times, dreamy (can I say that? I did!) at times, but always pushing forward. His case this time involves the murder of a man who had a second-life of sorts, pointed out first by the fact that he was murdered wearing light brown shoes, shoes which his wife swears he didn’t own, and which Maigret calls “goose-dung” shoes, due to the color. That’s amazing! Maigret follows the various threads, spooling them up one-by-one, while stopping for various sips along the way: wine, Calvados, aperitives, more, maybe even more than usual (one of the many reasons I love Maigret so much is his love of bars, bistros, brasseries, and other eating-and-watering holes. Even when they are around-the-corner, as in the below).
“Where to now chief?”
It was just eleven o’clock.
“Stop at the first bistro you come to.”
“There’s one next door to the shop.”
Somehow, he felt shy of going in there, under Leone’s watchful eye.
“We’ll find one round the corner.”
He wanted to ring Monsieur Kaplan, and to consult the street guide, to find Monsieur Saimbron’s exact address on the Quai de la Megisserie.
While he was there, having started the day with a Calvados, he thought he might as well have another, and drank it standing at the bar counter.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard
November 12, 2021
Sometimes I think to myself, what a wonderful world of drink-making ingredients we’re living within. The change since I came of drinking age (which admittedly was many a moon ago) is remarkable – heck, the change in the last decade, or even five years, is pretty remarkable. How lucky us cocktail lovers are! And there are more delicious delectables in beautiful bottles coming our way all the time. Even luckier! For example, just the other day, a beautiful bottle arrived in the post (luckiest me – don’t be jealous), containing Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus:
A “novel expression” (sidenote: I love the usage of the word “expression” here, and in other spots, to refer to a slightly, not completely, new version of a spirit or liqueur) of the original Drumshanbo Gin, this adds notes of, well, Sardinian citrus, “Sa Pompia” to be exact, one of the rarest fruits in the world, and a fruit sitting between an orange and grapefruit in flavor essence, though part of the lemon family. Not something you’d eat solo, but with a peel that can bring fantastic citrus dreams when used correctly. But, before peeling that any more, let’s back up. If you don’t know, Drumshanbo Gin itself takes its full name from the fact that it’s made in a small village in Ireland, and with a signature ingredient: Gunpowder Tea (which is a green tea rolled into gun-pellet-esque balls). But that’s just the beginning of this gin story! That tea and the Sardinian citrus, grapefruit, and lime are vapor infused into the gin, while a host of botanicals (juniper, as you’d expect, plus angelica and orris root, caraway and coriander seed, cardamom, star anise, and lesser-know flowery herb meadowsweet) are distilled in a medieval copper still. Whew! But what’s it all mean? On the nose, a strong, distinctive citrus medley, orange with underlying grapefruit, with subtle hints of juniper and flowers and springtime. The taste reflects the nose, but flipped a bit, with bountiful botanicals bursting on the tongue, with that green tea flavor coming through, swirled with citrus and then ending herbally. Yummy!
It’s a curious collection of ingredients, all balanced out nice, and one I couldn’t resist trying in a drink, after sipping it solo. And I had the perfect moment, with some pals coming over for lunch. As we’re at the point in the calendar where the holidays are in view, my mind went instantly to a bubbly cocktail (as the past weeks have shown, I am a fan of the holiday/sparkling combo). I played around a little with things, and ended up leaning into the citrus side of the gin, complementing it with a little more orange and a smidge of sweet in the form of Grand Marnier, and then doubling and tripling the herb-and-citrus song by the addition of two fantastic citrusy bitters: Scrappy’s lovely Grapefruit bitters and Orange bitters. I’m not gonna lie: I think with just those ingredients, there’s a pretty swell cocktail. But adding prosecco really drives all the flavors up, up, up with every bubble, into a memorable sparkling mix that’s ideal for the holidays — and for lunch with pals. When drinking, maybe throw out a toast to our modern drinker’s world, too, and how wonderful it is.
The Suspended Palace
1 ounce Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus
1/2 ounce Grand Mariner
1 dash Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters
1 dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
4 to 5 ounces chilled Prosecco
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Drumshanbo gin, Grand Marnier, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a flute or comparable glass. Top with the chilled Prosecco. Stir carefully, to combine.