January 16, 2024
For our Prime Minister Cocktail Talk the second, one of the best-named characters in the book pops up: Sextus Parker, nicknamed Sexty. Not at all what you might expect from the modern usage, or near-usage, of the word or words contained within. He’s a chap who works with Ferdinand Lopez – be sure to read The Prime Minister Cocktail Talk Part I to learn more about the book, the main characters, and my take on it in short form (cause who has time for long form?), and such. Anyway, back to Sexty. In the below you see he likes both sherry and brandy (who doesn’t?), and that the consumption of such effects his confidence, much like it does for modern folks.
Sextus Parker still thought that things would come round. Ferdinand, – he always now called his friend by his Christian name, – Ferdinand was beautifully, seraphically confident. And Sexty, who had been in a manner magnetized by Ferdinand, was confident too, – at certain periods of the day. He was very confident when he had had his two or three glasses of sherry at luncheon, and he was often delightfully confident with his cigar and brandy-and-water at night. But there were periods in the morning in which he would shake with fear and sweat with dismay.
–Anthony Trollope, The Prime Minister
September 19, 2023
Out final Vanity Fair Cocktail Talk, before we leave the legendary Thackeray (at least until I re-read or read another book of his!) in whatever afterlife bar he’s hanging out in today. But before leaving him and the book, we’re going to go along with one of the book’s large cast of characters for what I can only call a mighty mighty impressive day of drinking and eating. It’s, well, legendary (as are the Vanity Fair Cocktail Talks Part I, Part II, and Part III, which you should read).
Having partaken of a copious breakfast, with fish, and rice, and hard eggs, at Southampton, he had so far rallied at Winchester as to think a glass of sherry necessary. At Alton he stepped out of the carriage at his servant’s request and imbibed some of the ale for which the place is famous. At Farnham he stopped to view the Bishop’s Castle and to partake of a light dinner of stewed eels, veal cutlets, and French beans, with a bottle of claret. He was cold over Bagshot Heath, where the native chattered more and more, and Jos Sahib took some brandy-and-water; in fact, when he drove into town he was as full of wine, beer, meat, pickles, cherry-brandy, and tobacco as the steward’s cabin of a steam-packet.
— William Thackeray, Vanity Fair
June 14, 2022
This, friends, is a solemn time here on the Spiked Punch. I’ve just now this moment realized that I’ve never had a Cocktail Talk (unless I’ve lost it over the years, which is possible as my mind is old and there are many posts on there) from the immortal Anthony Trollope novel Phineas Finn. Or, from the also immortal Phineas Redux. What in the world? Y’all know I love me some Anthony Trollope (you know this from reading the many Trollope Cocktail Talks), and of all the Trollopian fictional gems, the two Phineas books – which are the second and fourth I believe in the Palliser series of novels by Trollope, books which revolve around politics, and how those taking part in them acted and talked and such, of his time in the main, while still being fiction – may well be my favorite. Not saying they are the best or making any canonical pronouncements. But they may be my favorites. I’m not even sure I can type out why! But I have a soft spot perhaps for the hero (Phineas), an Irish-born fella who makes his way into the London political world and has adventures and mis-adventures and romances and at least one duel and fox hunts and trials and ups and downs and brandy and all kinds of things. Perhaps I just love the scope and insights into the time period? Or how the characters mingle through the books, some coming and some going until there’s this whole feeling of being a part of the world Trollope is creating, or how the motivations seem to mirror modern ones (with different trapping of course)? Or his “complete appreciation of the usual” as they say? All of that? The one thing I know for sure is that I can’t believe I haven’t had a quote in the form of a Cocktail Talk from either Phineas book! Well, let’s remedy that with the below, shall we? This particular one doesn’t actually feature said hero, but one of the other fairly important, let’s call them sub-main characters, Lord Chiltern.
He told nothing to Captain Clutterbuck of his sorrow, but Captain Clutterbuck could see that he was unhappy.
“Let’s have another bottle of ‘cham,’” said Captain Clutterbuck, when their dinner was nearly over. “‘Cham’ is the only thing to screw one up when one is down a peg.”
“You can have what you like,” said Lord Chiltern; “but I shall have some brandy-and-water.”
“The worst of brandy-and-water is, that one gets tired of it before the night is over,” said Captain Clutterbuck.
–Anthony Trollope, Phineas Finn
July 13, 2021
Welcome to the second part of our tipsy tour through the Anthony Trollope novel Orley Farm (don’t miss Part I, or any of the past Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks). In the first part, I chatted a smidge about the novel itself, and where it slots into my own personal Trollope-verse, if you will. One thing I didn’t mention there, however, is perhaps my top character in the book, a commercial traveler (or traveling salesman, if you will), named Mr, Moulder, a lover of food and drink and a representative of the fine old firm of Hubbles and Grease, purveyors of find coffee, tea, and brandy. Randomly showing up when one of the novel’s major players stops at a fine old English inn, The Bull, Mr. Moulder shows up again, and I was happier for it. But the below quote (they’ll be more from our Mr. Moulder) is in his introduction graph, and gives a nice view into him, if you will.
He wore no beard, and therefore showed plainly the triple bagging of his fat chin. In spite of his overwhelming fatness, there was something in his face that was masterful and almost vicious. His body had been overcome by eating, but not as yet his spirit—one would be inclined to say. This was Mr. Moulder, well known on the road as being in the grocery and spirit line; a pushing man, who understood his business, and was well trusted by his firm in spite of his habitual intemperance. What did the firm care whether or no he killed himself by eating and drinking? He sold his goods, collected his money, and made his remittances. If he got drunk at night that was nothing to them, seeing that he always did his quota of work the next day. But Mr. Moulder did not get drunk. His brandy and water went into his blood, and into his eyes, and into his feet, and into his hands, —but not into his brain.
–Anthony Trollope, Orley Farm