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
February 4, 2020
Well, I decided I needed a second Cocktail Talk from the Simenon book where Superintendent (at this point) Maigret mingles with the uber rich – don’t miss Part I. In it, I have a quote that’s respectably boozy, but doesn’t actually have our stoic Superintendent himself having a drink. So, here we are, with the below quote from a time when Calvados wasn’t considered the smart thing it seems – hard to believe that now.
There were many people there, and the air was thick with cigar and cigarette smoke; besides the superintendent’s, there was only one other pipe smoker.
“What can I give you?”
“Do you have any Calvados?”
He didn’t see any on the shelves, where every brand of whisky was displayed. The barman unearthed a bottle, however, and filled a huge balloon-shaped glass, as if any other sort of vessel for liquor was unknown here.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Millionaires
November 6, 2018
Recently (in the full scope of time) got to go down to a newish bar in Seattle, called Black Cat, and I loved it, with its amazing metal-album-cover mural, friendly staff, fun and tasty drinks, and owner Dustin Haarstad, who makes a swell cocktail and is a darn friendly fellow himself. While there, I had a fantastic Calvados-based cocktail called A Rose in the Fall, and then (because I have a nice guardian angel) I got to write about the drink and the spot for the smiley Seattle magazine. You should go read all about A Rose in the Fall, and visit Black Cat, too. You’ll be happy, I’ll be happy, they’ll be happy, and the world needs more happy.
December 3, 2013
I haven’t read a whole lot of Rex Stout books, which is a bit weird, as his famous detective Nero Wolfe and the era he wrote in both hit me fairly square in my detective-y wheelhouse (not to mention that I love the covers, as I tend to, of books from that age). But hey, these things happen. However, when I came across a copy of his book entitled The Case of the Red Box, in a pocket-sized copy and with a cover that I couldn’t resist, well, I couldn’t resist. And it was a good read, for sure, with multiple murders, a great twist-y-ness, and a lot of beer. Perhaps the strangest thing about Nero Wolfe isn’t that he never leaves his house (or rarely), or that he takes hours every day to deal with his orchids, or that he only eats at home, etc. But that he drinks a ton of beer while interviewing suspects. Awesome! However, the below quote is even better, so I skipped the beer . . . this time.
You do shorthand in that book? Good: put this down. McNair was an inveterate eater of snails, and he preferred calvados to cognac. His wife died in childbirth because he was insisting on being an artist and was too poor and incompetent to provide proper care for her.
–Rex Stout, The Case of the Red Box