August 24, 2021
Not a lesser novel in the whole scope of the novel form, but perhaps considered a lesser Graham Greene novel, Travels with My Aunt is even with that brief and not-awe-inducing intro phrase a worthy read. In a nutshell: slightly boring chap takes early retirement to be slightly boring, but then runs into his “aunt” who is an eccentric traveler and jolly woman, who then takes said chap (Henry Pulling is his name) on adventures and opens his eyes to the world – and unveils family secrets? I won’t give it away – and more travels ensure until it turns out early retirement maybe is much more fun than expected. A good summertime read, and as it’s still summer, jump in (also, it was made into a movie, which is a good summertime watch). But first, the below quote, which is a bubbly favorite. As I’m drinking bubbly right now (you’ll understand this sentiment when you read the below), I feel I have to tell the truth and admit: I’ve had this quote on the blog before. but it’s so good, twice is twice as nice!
Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector.
— Graham Greene, Travels with my Aunt
August 3, 2021
A bit of a departure for many fans from his more tense thriller-ific films, To Catch a Thief is still, I believe, a wonderful Hitchcock film. The glamour of the setting and the leads (Cary Grant and Grace Kelly of course), the movement of the lens, the pace, the light suspense and banter, all of it comes together in a summery kind of way that lends itself to repeat viewings. If you haven’t seen it, well, you should. And if you have, but not recently, give it another viewing. It is, in one word, charming. But why (I hear you asking) am I blathering a bit on about it? Well, it was released on this day exactly in 1955! So, that deserves a Cocktail Talk, and the below quote is a dandy one.
“Bourbon’s the only drink. You can take all that champagne stuff and pour it down the English Channel.”
–John Michael Hayes (screenwriter), To Catch a Thief
July 23, 2021
Once, I, and some athletic and newsworthy and hilarious and thirsty and running pals made a very silly Class of the Race video, which you should watch cause you like fun, and you like drinks (or why would you be here). But you can watch it without a pen in hand to write down the recipe for the drink had in the video, The Class of the Race that is, because I have the recipe directly below. It’s a swell sipper, too, one worthy of any race winners, and, though bourbon-based (well, bourbon and bubbly-based), one that I believe can be had in summer, due to said bubbly, chilled. A little simple syrup, to sweeten things up, a little Benedictine, to add those monastically-herbal notes, and a little Peychaud’s bitters to underline it all, round the drink out and make a worthy finishing line for your July Friday.
The Class of the Race, from Dark Spirits
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Benedictine liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Benedictine, simple syrup, and bitters. Shake well (but not so well that you expire from the effort).
2. Strain the mix into a Champagne flute. Top with the bubbly.
A Note: Pheidippides was the original marathoner, running from Marathon to Athens after a battle in 490 B.C. without stopping once, announcing, “We have won,” and then reportedly dying. I feel this is something you should know when having this, but don’t let it flatten your bubbles.
July 9, 2021
Oh, the life of a 1500’s explorer and colonialist, traipsing around under the sunshine, and probably never having this drink. I mean, without a time machine, I’ll admit, if I knew where and why this particular drink was attached to this particular explorer, I can’t remember it. There is a nice French and the Caribbean tying-in, as the drink features the boldness and beauty of both Cognac and rum, so at least there is some here-to-there-ing happening (though Ponce was from Spain, but let’s bring the Euro together today). However! The drink also contains Cointreau, which naturally came about a little later. And then there’s grapefruit juice and sparkling wine, which might imply a little globe-trotting. It’s a little elegant, which could be like the curve of a conquistador’s helmet, if you want to go along that particular flight of fancy. But overall, I think it’s that if you drink a couple of these, you may decide to go exploring, or at least meander in your mind hither and yon, or at least sit on the couch and watch a program that takes you on a exploration. However! If you want to just enjoy this layered, effervescent, citrus-y, number on a sunshine-y day without worrying about how our explorer name ties in, I certainly wouldn’t hassle you about it.
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 through a fine strainer into saucer-style Champagne glass or cocktail or coupe glass. Fill the glass not quite to the top with the Champagne.
October 13, 2020
The third of our Cocktail Talks from the Trollope collection Early Short Stories (be sure to catch up on Part I and Part II, so as not to cause Trollope any sadness in the great library beyond) takes place in Rome, amongst a group of writerly and artistically and wannna-be ex-pats, and includes a little, oh, confused affection let’s say, and some bubbly, and some ruins, and Trollope’s eye into human foibles and drive, and ability to picture the 1800’s scene perfectly. Oh, before you pour the below though, don’t miss the array of past Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talk posts, which are oodles of fun, too.
She did not come among us on the occasion of this banquet, possibly because we had no tables there to turn in preparation for her presence; but, had she done so, she could not have been more eloquent of things of the other world than was Mrs. Talboys. I have said that Mrs. Talboys’ eye never glanced more brightly after a glass of Champagne, but I am inclined to think that on this occasion it may have done so. O’Brien enacted Ganymede, and was, perhaps, more liberal than other latter-day Ganymedes, to whose services Mrs. Talboys had been accustomed. Let it not, however, be suspected by any one that she exceeded the limits of a discreet joyousness. By no means! The generous wine penetrated, perhaps, to some inner cells of her heart, and brought forth thoughts in sparkling words, which otherwise might have remained concealed; but there was nothing in what she thought or spoke calculated to give umbrage either to an anchorite or to a vestal. A word or two she said or sung about the flowing bowl, and once she called for ; but beyond this her converse was chiefly of the rights of man and the weakness of women; of the iron ages that were past, and of the golden time that was to come.
— Anthony Trollope, “Mrs. General Talboys”
March 4, 2020
I’ve never had a Cocktail Talk from Dan J. Marlowe before – welcome to the site, Mr. Marlowe! A fairly well-known writer of mid-century hardboiled crime fiction (and other things, here and there), Mr. Marlowe had two sort-of series, one with a guy named Drake (I’ve never read any of these) and one with a guy named Johnny Killain – The Fatal Frails stars the latter, and this is my first with him – and then a bunch of books without an on-going lead. My favorite book of his falls in the latter group, though The Fatal Frails with Mr. Killain (a sort-of rough-and-tumble type who is both quite a brawler and quite a lady magnet) was pretty fun, so maybe I’ll try another. The fun thing about Mr. Marlowe outside the books is that he actually hung out with a bank robber, and a murderer, and co-wrote some stories with the former, so lived the life a bit. And, he wrote the below Cocktail Talk, which may be the only French Seventy-five mention I’ve seen in a pulp – with a bonus, throwing itself into one side of a discussion mostly won by the other side these days, meaning Cognac vs. gin in said drink. Nice that it’s harder to say the drink is “much-neglected” these days, too!
His glance that had difficulty in focusing moved over to Johnny speculatively. “Although I don’t know how you knew. I was – disturbed, last evening. Upset, if you like. I am given to moods. I have – treatment for them. Early in the evening I repaired to a little place I know where the bartender is an artist in the preparation of that much-neglected drink, the French Seventy-five.” He smiled at Johnny, not quite vacuously despite the clouded eyes. “You’re familiar with the drink? Champagne over a Cognac base? Terrific morale builder. I had – several, after which I decided a spot of visiting was in order.”
–Dan J. Marlowe, The Fatal Frails
January 28, 2020
A little more Maigret never hurt anyone, right – heck, Maigret is seen as a cure-all in many countries, so more is actually beneficial. It feels like that to me every time I read a Maigret yarn I haven’t read at least (and luckily, I still have a ways to goes, as Mr. Simenon was very prolific). I picked up the latest, for me, in a Florence bookstore, bella-ly enough, and in it Maigret has to enter the world of the super-rich after a murder in Parisan luxury hotel the George V. Said murder happening after two folks had a bit of a do, with numerous sippers, as detailed below.
“Not at this time of night, Madame la Comtesse, but I’ll get in touch with the nurse…”
A little over an hour before, he had brought up to that very suite a bottle of Champagne, a bottle of whiskey, some soda water, and a bucket of ice. The bottles and glasses were still in the sitting room, except for one Champagne glass that had been overturned on the bedside table.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Millionaires
February 22, 2019
Beyond the fact that this is a tasty drink – double bitters, bourbon, bubbly, Cointreau – I love the story of the Seelbach. It was once thought an uncovered treasure found in some ancient texts, and brought out of the mists of time for the drinkers of the future. But, turns out, the whole story was made up. Cocktails should have histories like this, sometimes, cause drinking should be fun (also, to read the whole story in more detailed, check it out on Liquor.com) and sometimes made up stories are fun, too. Heck, it tricked me, but I still believe it’s fun, and like drinking the Seelbach, too. Try it, and I’m guessing you will, as well.
1 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
7 dashes Angostura bitters
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Pour the bourbon, Cointreau, and the two bitters into a flute glass. Stir briefly.
2. Fill the flute almost to the top with the chilled Champagne or sparkling wine. Stir again, but don’t get nutty about it. Garnish with the orange twist.