October 17, 2017
Trollope, how I love thee, let me count the ways . . . okay, that would take too long. But just check out all the past Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks, and you’ll read about my swoons until you are blue in the face. Or at least a light shade of pea flower. Anyway. The Way We Live Now is for many THE Trollope book, the big one, the masterwork of all his masterworks. Me, I love it. But it’s not my favorite. But I see where they’re getting to, as it’s a big book, and incredibly insightful, and less happy (which many like) than some of his others, less friendly, more calling-people-out. Which makes it the perfect book for today’s world, in some way. Really, re-reading it (third time? fourth time?) I was struck by how relevant and right on target it was considering the, oh, self-interested spot we’re all within. I strongly suggest it. Though reading it, you may well (as Lord Nidderdale below) find yourself needing a bottle of bubbly. Hopefully you have more luck than he:
“A bottle of Champagne!” said Nidderdale, appealing to the waiter in almost a humble voice, feeling that he wanted sustenance in this new trouble that had befallen him. The waiter, beaten almost to the ground by an awful sense of the condition of the club, whispered to him the terrible announcement that there was not a bottle of Champagne in the house. “Good G — — ,” exclaimed the unfortunate nobleman. Miles Grendall shook his head. Grasslough shook his head.
“It’s true,” said another young lord from the table on the other side. Then the waiter, still speaking with suppressed and melancholy voice, suggested that there was some port left. It was now the middle of July.
“Brandy?” suggested Nidderdale. There had been a few bottles of brandy, but they had been already consumed. “Send out and get some brandy,” said Nidderdale with rapid impetuosity. But the club was so reduced in circumstances that he was obliged to take silver out of his pocket before he could get even such humble comfort as he now demanded.
–Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now
October 4, 2016
Published originally in 1838 (that’s when it started publication, at least, as it was a serial as many books were back then), Nicholas Nickleby hasn’t yet been featured in a Cocktail Talk post, which is a little surprising, since I’ve had a fair amount of Dickens Cocktail Talking. While it’s not my favorite Dickens, and maybe is considered second tier, that just means it’s amazing. It’s a little more romantic in a way then many Dickens books, and has a more Trollopean ending (if that makes sense), but I sorta like that. It’s a long read, too, which for many today in our rush-rush world is tough (wimps), but well worth reading, and sticking with, as it really starts to roll and then you get completely involved with our eponymous hero and his family, and enemies. But while it’s here, of course, is because like most Dickens (all, probably, would be safe) books, there’s a fair amount of times in pubs, at punch bowls, and just folks sipping this and that. Enough so that I’m planning a number of quotes from it here, maybe even the whole month! Let’s see how it goes, shall we? Dickens would be happy about it, I think (he’s probably one of the most, be-fun-to-have-a-drink-with authors throughout history). I’m going to start with one from a fair of sorts, where there’s a tent with a rouge-et-noir table with a loud barker, bringing people in to play with the promise of bubbly and more.
‘Gentlemen, we’ve port, sherry, cigars, and most excellent champagne. Here, wai-ter, bring a bottle of champagne, and let’s have a dozen or fifteen cigars here–and let’s be comfortable, gentlemen–and bring some clean glasses–any time while the ball rolls!–I lost one hundred and thirty-seven pound yesterday, gentlemen, at one roll of the ball, I did indeed!–how do you do, sir?’ (recognising some knowing gentleman without any halt or change of voice, and giving a wink so slight that it seems an accident), ‘will you take a glass of sherry, sir?–here, wai-ter! bring a clean glass, and hand the sherry to this gentleman–and hand it round, will you, waiter?–this is the rooge-a-nore from Paris, gentlemen–any time while the ball rolls!–gentlemen, make your game, and back your own opinions–it’s the rooge-a-nore from Paris– quite a new game, I brought it over myself, I did indeed–gentlemen, the ball’s a-rolling!’
— Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby
October 6, 2015
Well, if you don’t know Casino Royale from the movies or books, where have you been hiding? It’s the first James Bond-ing, for super-spy sake! Here’s a secret between us, though. I actually hadn’t read the book, until a few weeks back, when I was traveling in the UK. It was the perfect time, and you know what – the book holds up. Both as a thriller, but also as a character study. Everything gets over-done and distilled somewhat over time, but if you like a good quick read and aren’t opposed to spies and such, and haven’t read it, give it a whirl. It’s better than the movie! And, while the Vesper quote is duly famous, it has other memorable drinking scenes and drinks, too. Check the below, for an example:
The room was sumptuous with those over-masculine trappings which, together with briar pipes and wire-haired terriers, spell luxury in France. Everything was brass-studded leather and polished mahogany. The curtains and carpets were in royal blue. The waiters wore striped waistcoats and green baize aprons. Bond ordered an Americano and examined the sprinkling of over-dressed customers, mostly from Paris he guessed, who sat talking with focus and vivacity, creating that theatrically clubbable atmosphere of ‘l’heure de l’apéritif’.
The men were drinking inexhaustible quarter-bottles of Champagne, the women dry Martinis.
— Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
PS: That “Americano” would be the drink, if you’re wondering, not the coffee, which is a more recent way of moniker-ing that style of java.
September 23, 2014
I recently picked up a couple Trollope books I hadn’t read before (which is rare – if you don’t know of my Trollopean love, go check out past Trollope Cocktail Talks), thanks to Powell’s, and as long-time readers of this here blog could guess, I was super excited to find them. Both because I could happily read Trollope all day long, and because the books tend to contain a nice bit of Cocktail Talk, too. For example, one of the books was Ralph the Heir, about a somewhat ne’er-do-well running into trouble before some inheritance kicks in, along with being about his much nicer cousins, and how they all end up and with who. It’s fantastic, really. But having a ne’er-do-well means, naturally, that there’s some time spent in clubs and bars, which leads to the below quote – one of the best about how service is sometimes driven.
Mrs. Horsball got out from some secluded nook a special bottle of orange-brandy in his favour – which Lieutenant Cox would have consumed on the day of its opening, had not Mrs. Horsball with considerable acrimony declined to supply his orders. The sister with ringlets smiled and smirked whenever the young Squire went near the bar. The sister in ringlets was given to flirtations of this kind, would listen with sweetest complacency to compliments on her beauty, and would return them with interest. But she never encouraged this sort of intimacy with gentlemen who did not pay their bills, or with those whose dealings with the house were not of a profitable nature. The man who expected that Miss Horsball would smile upon him because he ordered a glass of sherry and bitters or half-a-pint of pale ale was very much mistaken; but the softness of her smile for those who consumed the Moonbeam Champagne was unbounded. Love and commerce with her ran together, and regulated each other in a manner that was exceedingly advantageous to her brother.
–Anthony Trollope, Ralph the Heir
August 29, 2014
Hello late August! You might think in late August, where, for let’s say at least 85.4% of the readers of this blog, it’s pretty hot, that I wouldn’t dare suggest making a drink that means “thought.” But I will dare (as the song says), cause really, you don’t have to think too much about this drink when making it, and because it is rather refreshing and, if I may dare say, yummy. Just be sure your Brachetto d’Acqui (the slightly sweet Italian frizzante wine) is well chilled, or drop an ice cube into the glass. It is August, after all.
The Pensiero, from Champagne Cocktails
1 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 ounces Punt e Mes
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
Chilled Brachetto d’Acqui
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the orange juice, Punt e Mes, Campari, and simple syrup. Shake thoughtfully.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a flute glass. Top with Brachetto d’Acqui. Garnish with the lemon twist.
August 22, 2014
Sometimes, in summer, it’s too hot for me to even write up a new, clever, headnote (anyone who shakes their head at “clever” please leave the room). And sometimes, I read another headnote from a book and just think, well, that says it all, really. This is one of those times.
In his famous eighteenth sonnet, when he lays down the immortal line “and summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” Shakespeare perhaps wasn’t exactly referring to a coquetry that happened in those hotter months between him and a fair lady, an ardent connection that slid smoothly past light flirtation into something a trace more serious, a Mercury-rising affaire d’amour that—for at least as long as those months lasted—seemed more important than the sun. As these adoring concerns are, sadly, like this drink, over much too soon, his line does hit the romantic nail on the head, though—showing again why Will S. was the master.
Summer Dream, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 (because of reasons mentioned above)
3 orange slices
2 peach slices
4 ounces bourbon
2 ounces Campari
1 ounce Simple Syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Add the orange and peach slices to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Campari, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake really well, if a little wistfully, for at least 15 seconds.
3. Strain the dream through a fine strainer equally into two cocktail glasses.
A Variation: Want a more cluttered drink? After step 2, instead of straining into cocktail glasses, pour the whole shebang, ice and fruit and every sad last word, into two large goblets. Rename it the Disordered Dream.
August 8, 2014
It’s wedding season, I do believe, evidenced by the lacy white outfits I keep seeing women wearing (usually accompanied by a bunch of other women in really oddly colored and shaped outfits – poor bridesmaids), and the number of gentlemen in tuxes with scared looks on their faces. Hah! I kid, I kid. I love weddings – they’re an especially nice kind of a party, a big ol’ celebration of two folks that hopefully are well-liked by everyone in attendance. In honor of the couples I know hitching it up this month (or right around this month), I’m going to whip up some Blushing Brides. These have to be made in batches of two, cause, well, I should think it’d be obvious.
The Blushing Bride, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2
12 fresh raspberries
6 lime wedges
4 ounces Cognac
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce Simple Syrup
1. Put the raspberries and 4 of the lime wedges into a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler, wooden spoon, or stiletto-heeled bridesmaid’s shoe, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, vodka, and simple syrup. Shake in a celebratory manner.
3. Strain the mix equally into two cocktail glasses through a fine strainer. Garnish each with a remaining lime wedge.
PS: I’ve seen drinks with this title that contain other ingredients. Avoid them. They are all awful
August 1, 2014
This refreshing number with a kick will not make you younger, or provide you (after you drink, say, three) with a vision that takes you to the fountain of youth. However, however, however, if you do consume three, with a good friend or two, my guess is you’ll start acting a bit more youthful, and feel perhaps more youthful, and have a generally awesome time. Maybe we shouldn’t ask for more?
The Ponce de León, from Dark Spirits
1 ounce Cognac
1/2 ounce white rum
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, rum, Cointreau, and grapefruit juice. Shake well.
2. Strain the elixir into a cocktail glass. Fill the glass not quite to the top with the Champagne. Serve with a youthful grin.