December 15, 2020

Cocktail Talk: Villette

villetteJust over twelve years ago, life was a little different. We were younger, of course, and, electricity hadn’t been invented, and dinosaurs walked the earth, and Atlantis still stood strong, and well, it feels that long ago, at least, doesn’t it? But that (back in 2008) was when I last read what some consider to be Charlotte Bronte’s best novel, Villette. How do I know that fact? Cause I had a Villette Cocktail Talk way back then! Amazing, right? Amazing. I decided to delve back into the book when in a CB mood recently, and found the below quote I must have missed first time, one that’s ideal for right now as it features Wassail, a traditional holiday drink in many parts of the globe. Oh, but before that – in my earlier Cocktail Talk I said Villette was in France, but I think I’d spent too much time around the Wassail-bowl, cause really, it’s a stand-in name I believe for Brussels. Oh, also, if you haven’t read it, Villette is a somewhat reflection of part of C. Bronte’s life, and presents a picture different than many books written at the time, as the heroine is way independent for the time period, and caused a fair amount of disapproving looks at the time – though some highly approved, and I do too! Oh (part three of the “Oh”-ing), I have one or two more Charlotte Bronte Cocktail Talks, too, so don’t miss them.


So, while the Count stood by the fire, and Paulina Mary still danced to and fro—happy in the liberty of the wide hall-like kitchen—Mrs. Bretton herself instructed Martha to spice and heat the wassail-bowl, and, pouring the draught into a Bretton flagon, it was served round, steaming hot, by means of a small silver vessel, which I recognized as Graham’s christening-cup.


“Here’s to Auld Lang Syne!” said the Count; holding the glancing cup on high.


— Charlotte Bronte, Villette


March 25, 2011

Cocktail Talk, Shirley #2

In the post below, I mention my theory on the Bronte sisters as wild wing-ding women, and while some might disagree, those disagreers are probably also the people who no one invites to parties, and who sit at home chewing their cud and cursing their mealy-minded lonesome parched existences. The below quote, also from Charlotte’s underappreciated Shirley, is one of my favorite short, one line quotes that utilize drinks in a way of describing a facet of existence. It’s almost a maxim, in a way, to live by—or at least can be applied to life. If you don’t agree, well, it’s probably because you’re boring. But if you want to argue, let me call up those bubbly Bronte sisters–do you really want to argue with the ghosts of three famous English writers? I mean, who’s more dangerous than that?

Adventure is to stagnation as Champagne is to flat porter.


Shirley, Charlotte Bronte

March 23, 2011

Cocktail Talk: Shirley #1

When they’re talked of (which is a lot, one hopes), the Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) aren’t usually referred to as party animals. This is, of course, a crying shame. As their books are filled with well-rounded characters, and usually contain a wee tipple or tippling, or a bar, and mostly entertaining writing that pulls you in, as opposed to pushing you out, my thought is that for the years they lived within the sisters were a rollicking good time, and probably were thought of somewhat in the same way we think of modern party animal writers like J. Robert Lennon and Andrew Greer (at least when those two modern scribes are wearing hoop skirts). In any case, the Spiked Punch is going to dwell for two posts on quotes from Charlotte’s novel Shirley, published in 1849 and as worthy a read (I think) as her much more fawned over Jane Eyre (though admittedly I like me the Jane Eyre, too). This first quote falls into the “bar” shelf in the Cocktail Talk kitchen, and describes lovingly a 1800s watering hole (and I have a confession–I think longingly of whisky-and-water myself on occasion):

He looked for certain landmarks–the spire of Briarfield Church; farther on, the lights of Redhouse. This was an inn; and when he reached it, the glow of a fire through a half-curtained window, a vision of glasses on a round table, and of revelers on an oaken settle, had nearly drawn aside the curate from his course. He thought longingly of a tumbler of whisky-and-water.


Shirley, Charlotte Bronte

October 15, 2008

Cocktail Talk: Villette

Charlotte Brontë’s third published novel isn’t rampant with cocktailing (more focused on life in a boarding school in a bustling French town), but it is brilliantly fun to read for the precise and flourishing prose, and for the following quote, which I think delves perfectly into the aroma, and nature, of whiskey:

“A heated stove made the air of this room oppressive; and, to mend matters, it was scented with an odor rather strong than delicate: a perfume, indeed, altogether surprising and unexpected under the circumstances, being like the combination of smoke with some spirituous essence–a smell, in short, of whiskey.”


–Charlotte Brontë, Villette

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