June 26, 2018

Cocktail Talk: The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed

Image result for The Vengeance Man / Park Avenue TrampJust last week, I highlighted a Cocktail Talk quote from an old noir novel called Park Avenue Tramp, which (as detailed there) was part of a Stark House Noir Classics collection that features three out-of-print noir novels all together. These collections are really worthy reads if you dig the pulps, noirs, and pocketbooks-with-saucy-covers, because they feature books not easily picked up today. In this collection, I liked all three reads, but my favorite might have been The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed, by Charles Runyon. A small town serial killer search, in a way, it moved fast, had a fair amount of twists and turns, tight and creative lingo and well-written prose-ing, and a female lead who showed some gumption. All good stuff! And a good Cocktail Talk quote about a country bar, which you’ll see below.

It was a little gas station and honky-tonk; the kind you see around the country with names like Burntwood Inn and Cozy Dell. This one was called Pine Cover Tavern and was crowded (there was no work in the fields because of the rain) with men in overalls and a couple of women in print dresses. We drew stares as we walked to a booth in the back. I felt wicked and daring, and though it was unlikely that any Shermanites would see me, I found that I didn’t really care if they did. I told Curt to order me a boilermaker: a glass of beer with a shot of bourbon inside it. He ordered the same for himself and drank silently for a few minutes.

–Charles Runyon, The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed

June 12, 2018

Cocktail Talk: It’s Better to Burn

Image result for case of the bearded bride keenePicked up another of the Day Keene short story collections recently, this one called The Case of the Bearded Bride (it’s Volume 4 of the series bringing all his stories from the old detective pulp magazines), and it’s full of the same Day Keene delicious-ness as the earlier volumes. And by that I mean, fast-paced yarns that are sometimes hard-boiled, sometimes mysterious, sometimes noir-ish, and always fun to read. The proofing here as with past volumes leaves a lot to be desired, but hey, it’s just sweet these stories are back in print. There’s a fair amount of bars and booze in them, but I picked a beer quote for this volume’s Cocktail-Talk-ing (check out past Day Keene Cocktail Talks for more sweetness), because I don’t often beer-it up, and also because I liked this portrayal of a man just out of prison. Oh, the name of this story is a humdinger, too, “It’s Better to Burn.”

Gone were the held-back jewels he had put aside as an umbrella against the day that it might rain. Gone were the luscious blondes and the redheads. Gone was his Cadillac car. All that remained were sixty-six dollars and twenty cents and the belly that even two years in a cell had failed to diminish. He promptly steered it to the nearest bar and spent a dollar and eighty cents of his capital to fill it with beer. It had been two years since he had had a drink. Mellowed by the beer, he considered his prospects. They weren’t bright.

–Day Keene, It’s Better to Burn

August 16, 2016

Cocktail Talk: Milk and Cheese

We don’t have a lot of comic book Cocktail Talks around the Spiked Punch parts, which does, I suppose, make sense, as not too many comics have drinky, cocktaily sections or such. Though, on the flip side, I read a fair amount of comics, so it should balance out, and today it does! With a power-booze-packed panel from Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad. If you haven’t read Milk and Cheese, well, a warning: it is about a carton of milk and a wedge of cheese, who happened to be the badass-est dairy products, and who revel in violence, drinking, ranting, and all that, in a way that’s serves up a dose of hilarity and spite-ful-ness. It’s sorta hard to describe, really! But when they celebrate birthdays, they do it like the below (around messing up people, places, and things):


–Evan Dorkin, Milk and Cheese

August 5, 2014

Beer Cocktail It Up

Hello! I recently wrote an article on refreshing (as heck) beer cocktails that combine Seattle-and-WA-made spirits, liqueurs, and beers. It’s called Warm-Weather Cocktails Made with Local Beer, Spirits and Liqueurs as you might expect, and was written for the mighty-fine Seattle magazine. If you like beer, cocktails, spirits, liqueurs, refreshing drinks, entertaining your friends, entertaining yourself, enjoying a righteous libation, or reading anything I write (there has to be at least one person out there who feels this way), then this beer cocktail article is for you.

* See all Seattle magazine articles by me

PS: I am also the hand model in the photo. Hah!

August 27, 2012

A.J.’s Brews: Beerdessert with Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée

If you’re a regular reader (and I know that you are) of the Spiked Punch, you know that for a while there we had a fairly consistent column written by a guy named Drew, said columns being all about beer. Drew’s Brews, they were called, and it was nice to give some beer time here. Sadly, Drew’s moving and shaking and such, and while hopefully he’ll do a few more posts in the future, well, I can’t actually predict the future. In his honor though, here’s a short post about beer. Specifically, about a beer I had here in Seattle last week at Chuck’s, which is a crazy beer haven (that used to be a really porny convenience store). The beer was from the Southern Tier Brewing Company, and was a Crème Brûlée. Seriously. I guess the actual varietal would be “Imperial Milk Stout,” but I believe it should fall into a category you don’t hear about a lot: dessert beers. It had an incredible crème brûlée aroma and a whole passel of vanilla, caramel, and burnt sugar flavors. If I remember correctly, at the time I said it was “weirdly tasty” and I stand by that account. If you get a chance, and if you’re an adventuresome drinker, I strongly suggest keeping an eye out for it. And when you get a pint, pair it up with some creamy dessert. Dreamy, man, dreamy.


July 30, 2012

Cocktail Talk: The Man with a Load of Mischief

Sometimes, it doesn’t take long to know you’re gonna like a new book. I’m talking about a completely new book here, by an author you don’t know, and not say the 32nd book in a series by your all-time favorite writer (which I’m guessing is Garth Marenghi). Sometimes, it takes a few pages, but sometimes, rarely, sure, but sometimes by the end of the second sentence you know the book’s gonna snag you. Or at least has serious potential. I recently had this very phenomenon happen, with a book called The Man with a Load of Mischief, by Martha Grimes, who I’d never read word one from before. As this blog isn’t one of serious literary merit (wait, are any?), you probably have guessed that there’s some boozy mention in said second sentence. And you’re right. But what you probably couldn’t guess is that the boozy mention is of an English beer, one that’s not prevalent in the U.S., but one whose distillery I’ve actually been to! Amazing. It was a few years back, and I was traveling the U.K. with wife Nat and pals Markie B and Leslie P and we were in the Yorkshire region tooling around before seeing the Mighty Boosh, and ended up in a village called Masham, where the famous Theakston Brewery resides, which we visited. And, to bring it all full circle, at Theakston they make a renowned beer call Old Peculiar, which we had (and which Markie B has since lobbied to get in Seattle—successfully I might add) and loved, and which is mentioned in the second sentence of the book, which I talked about like an hour ago at the top of this paragraph. But hey, you wouldn’t want me to leave the story unfinished, right? The payoff is the quote itself, which is right here:

Outside the Jack and Hammer, a dog growled. Inside, his view of the High Street obstructed by the window at his shoulder, Melrose Plant sat in the curve of the bay drinking Old Peculiar and reading Rimbaud.

The Man with a Load of Mischief, Martha Grimes

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July 5, 2012

Drew’s Brews: The End is Near . . .

Editor’s Note: Beer-o-matic man Drew is back with another edition of Drew’s Brews, where he sings the beer fantastic.

It is no secret that a phenomenon of disastrous proportions looms over a certain grouping of true believers out there, who seem to believe that the Mayan calendar points to the end of the world or that some grandiose cataclysmic event will unfold when we reach December 21st of 2012—thus reaching the end date of the 5,125 year cycle Mesoamerican calendar system. Whether you are devoted to the numerological and astronomical events that must align for this impending apocalypse or a person who enjoys the camp value of bad Armageddon blockbuster films and marketing to your specific fears, I have a beer for you. The good people at the Elysian Brewing Company are just as excited and/or apprehensive and celebrate and/or reject with you. Perhaps they are exploiting fears and capitalizing on what many refer to as pseudoscience, but it gives them just the excuse they need to countdown with 12 session beers of the apocalypse. Every month as we approach 12/12, Elysian Brewery releases a new beer in the series paired with some inspired artwork. So, here’s what I’m drinking currently as I prepared for the end: “The Rapture” a 7.65% beer with high country heather tips in the mash that are then added again at the end of the boil. It was the second release of the series. The Rapture pours a deep golden color and has a smooth nose and taste with floral honey and piney herbal scents. There is a nice balanced flavor combining sweet fruit and honey with bitter flavors and hops. A nice session series but getting harder to find, as it is a limited release. And although I enjoyed my trip to the Elysian Brewery on Capitol Hill in researching the apocalypse and the beers around it, I much prefer the wild game day atmosphere of the Elysian fields public house or Tangletown’s cozy neighborhood vibe to the actual brewery.

While we play on the darker side I wanted to share a sad note (well, at least sad in the beer-scheme-of-thing). My good friend and local home brewer saved the last bottle of his last session pale ale just to give me for my birthday. He held on to it for nearly 4 months waiting to see me. He gave it to me last weekend and I was delighted. Unfortunately it punched through a damp paper grocery bag on the trip home and shattered at my feet. I stared at it for several minutes as the flip top rolled in a circle among the corpse of broken glass—what a foamy shame. In memory of this fine beer I never had, please, everyone reading this, enjoy your favorite Pale Ale and share a comment of what you had. It’ll be a virtual toast to Luke D. and those lost beers that slip through the cracks.

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July 2, 2012

A Second Cheer for Beer Cocktails

In case you might have missed it (and I’m sorry for you if you did), I recently wrote up a little post for Seattle Magazine on the healing powers of beer cocktails and the awesome new book by Howard and Ashley Stelzer, Beer Cocktails: 50 Superbly Crafted Cocktails That Liven Up Your Lagers and Ales. If you did miss said post, go read it now (it has four recipes from the book and one from around this here Seattle). If you read it, and still haven’t ordered the beer cocktails book, then let me tell you a bit more about it, in bulleted fashion. It has:

•  A great starter section called Beer Basics

•  Four swell chapters full of recipes: Lager Than Life, Abbey Road, Beyond the Shadow of a Stout, The Dark at the End of the Tunnel

•  A jolly personality that leads to lines like: “But don’t lose your head—it just takes practice,” in their Sleepy Hollow recipe (which is a bit different from the Good Spirits one, but just as tasty. Or, almost)

•  Drinks titled with wit and creativity, such as: Joe Pêche, KnickerTwister, The Bishop’s Wife, Phil Collins

•  A bubbly ton of beer information, which’ll be handy for newbies and hardened beer-o-philes alike

•  Quotes! Such as: “It is a fair wind that blew men to the ale”—Washington Irving

Now, that’s a book, friends, that will make your summer tastier, your weekends more weekendy, and your life fuller.

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