December 2, 2022
Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. This here (or, below here) is my recipe for Champagne Punch, the one I picked up from family holiday gatherings when I was a wee one, the one I was making for parties long before even this blog started (so, dinosaurs were walking the earth), and long before I put the recipe in Good Spirits (and probably others books and articles), and long before I started typing this sentence (which is itself rather long now, though not as long as some by, say, Henry James). It’s a basic ol’ bubbly fruity rummy punchy number, not all la-de-da, but very solid, very tasty, and very much a sparkling treat that’s wonderful around the holiday season – which, low and behold, we are now in, or nearly in if you don’t want to jump the gun. A stance I understand, but good to be prepared pals! So, have the basic recipe below in your back pocket – it’s sure to be a hit at your holiday gatherings, which I’m sure will be anything but basic.
Ice (in block form if possible; if not, large chunks)
6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
4 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces white rum
6 ounces dark rum
Once 750-milliliter bottle chilled Champagne
Orange, lime, and lemon slices, for garnish
1. Add the ice to a large punch bowl. If using chunks (as opposed to a large block of ice), fill the bowl just under halfway.
2. Add the orange juice, simple syrup, lime juice, and lemon juice. With a large spoon or ladle, stir 10 times.
3. Add the white and dark rums. Stir 10 more times.
4. Add Champagne, but not too quickly. Enjoy the moment. Add a goodly amount of orange, lime, and lemon slices. Stir, but only once.
5. Ladle into punch glasses or festive goblets. Try to ensure that every guest gets a slice of fruit and a smile.
July 12, 2022
Finally picked up another Henry Kane book (to read more about the solo volume I had previously, check out the Martinis and Murder Cocktail Talks) a few weeks ago, one also starring private eye (or “private Richard” as he calls himself) Peter Chambers. The book follows along our big, smart, tough (but sexy!) PI in his mid-60s manner as he enters the world of large dollar signs and political influence. A world he busts right into, as you’d expect, with good suits, lots of suave action, and lots of drinking. He also shows a nice two-fister or two-gun intolerance for fascists no matter how much they pay – as every single person should of course! This book, like the other I’ve read is pretty fun, moves pretty fast, and opens a fair number of bottles of booze in a bubbly manner. Below, it’s Champagne. Taittinger 1921, if you were wondering!
“Coffee?” he said to his wife. The tall silver urn was doing small business. The big business was at the Champagne coolers.
“Wine,” she said.
“Had you better?”
“Taittinger 1921,” she said. “You bet I had better.” She smiled at me with large white teeth. “Which means I have never had better. Taittinger ’21. The best.”
We drank Champagne, ate, chatted, and ate and chatted and drank.
Sturgeon and Champagne. Ah, the sweet life.
–Henry Kane, The Unholy Trio
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
May 31, 2022
Hello Anthony Trollope fans! Which is everyone! Who likes to read, at least (which is also hopefully everyone)! Speaking of reading, long-time readers of this blog (which is everyone!) know that I love reading Trollope novels in the main, and know this due to the many many Trollope Cocktail Talks from years past. A long list that includes one Can You Forgive Her? Cocktail Talk. However! I was re-reading this book – the first in the amazing Palliser series, or series-esque – recently, and realized I needed way more in the way of Cocktail Talks from it. So, another is happening today, with the below quote. First a quick note: the novel is about a lady who goes a bit back-and-forth, not in her affections per se, but in how she decides to deal with them and her life, with a few other stories intertwined (including one which introduces Glencora Palliser, who shows up in most of the other books, and re-introduces Plantagenet Palliser, who shows up even more in them). All good Trollopian stuff! Including the below.
On the night before Christmas Eve two men were sitting together in George Vavasor’s rooms in Cecil Street. It was past twelve o’clock, and they were both smoking; there were square bottles on the table containing spirits, with hot water and cold water in jugs, and one of the two men was using, and had been using, these materials for enjoyment.
–Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?
February 22, 2022
Don’t miss our Eight Faces at Three, Part I Cocktail Talk, where you can find out more about the book, about the bubbly 1930-ish author who wrote it (and she was the first crime-y writer to be on the cover of Time, which is just a hook to get you to learn more about her, cause there are stories! She being Craig Rice, that is), about how I was tipped to the book (and hopefully through that towards more books by her) by cocktailian and mystery-ian Vince Keenan, and where you can see another quote from the book. When you read said other quote, and our quote below, don’t think as they both are about drinking-in-cars that I am proposing you go out and drink in a car (unless it’s parked)! Cause I’m not. But they are both such jolly quotes, well, I couldn’t skip them. And the book is a darn jolly (outside of a murder or two) read, fast-paced, tipsy, slapstick-y nearly at times, with a little bit of romance to boot. And lots of rye and bubbly!
“Miss Helene,” said Butch joyously,” you’d never guess what I got under them blankets on the floor.”
“Judas!” she said. “Champagne!”
“I thought it seemed sort of appropriate.”
“But no glasses,” she said. “I suppose nobody can think of everything. Just the same, drinking Champagne out of a bottle in a moving car is more than a mere accomplishment.”
–Craig Rice, Eight Faces at Three
December 26, 2021
If you can, picture this: it is 86 years ago today (you have to use your imagination here, people). You are with the family, or friends, or just solo, and decide to go to a movie. What do you pick? Why The Philadelphia Story, of course. Romance, comedy, and the legendary trio of Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart? How could you go to anything else! And then, while watching you get to hear the below quote, which is an ideal Cocktail Talk. Of course, it being today and not 86 years ago, you can just stream up said movie. Go to!
Champagne’s funny stuff. I’m used to whiskey. Whiskey is a slap on the back, and Champagne’s a heavy mist before my eyes.
–Jimmy Stewart, The Philadelphia Story
December 14, 2021
Before we dive into our second quote and Cocktail Talk from the Cool and Lam (being Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, the star of this book and others) mystery in question, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you towards the Some Slips Don’t Show Part I Cocktail Talk, and all the Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks (he being the writer of said book, as his Cool and Lam-writing alias A.A. Fair, as well as being the writer of course of some books about a lawyer named Perry Freaking Mason), so you can enjoy more drinking fun, after you enjoy the below (which also gives some nice short insight into the Cool and Lam partnership).
“Fifty-seven smackers in one chunk?” she asked, he voice rasping.
“What’s it for? You could have got that broad drunk on gin at a total cost of five bucks. Why the Champagne?”
“It’s for a painting,” I said. “I bought it. It’s called ‘Sun over the Sahara’ and I’m going to put it in a purple frame and –”
“This is long distance, you drunken idiot,” Bertha screamed at me.
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show
December 7, 2021
I have had enough A.A. Fair Cocktail Talks and Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks on the ol’ Spiked Punch for those that don’t know to now know they are the same person, right? Well, the latter, Mr. Erle, is the person I suppose, and the former, Mr. A.A., just a nom de plume (as they say), but I like to hope he at least wore different hats when writing as different people. Anyway, I’ve had a fair (haha!) enough amount of Cocktail Talks as mentioned for you to go back through them to browse my thoughts on the two personas, on the books written by them, and my feelings therein. So, don’t miss that! Cause I’m not going to go over it all here, instead want to jump right in to the drink-y quotes from this book, Some Slips Don’t Show, which stars (as all the A.A. Fair books, I believe) detective Donald Lam, and to a lesser extent, his partner Bertha Cool. In this yarn, they end up with a client who isn’t completely sure if he cheated on his wife while in San Francisco, but may be being blackmailed. Curious! And then there is a murder, and some art, and a modern lady beguiled by the diminutive (in height, somewhat, but not in smarts or stick-tuitive-ness) and dashing Donald, as ladies tend to be. But before said beguiling, there’s background around the client, who it seems had himself a night.
She laughed a throaty, musical laugh. “Trying to play the big, bad wolf was pretty much of a strain on him. He was out of character.”
“I can imagine,” I said. “What happened?”
“He started drinking Champagne like water on top of some fruit punch. The combination didn’t agree with him.”
“So, what happened?”
“He went to the bathroom.”
“Do you have to know all the details?”
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show