May 19, 2020
Well, I know what I’m doing today: waiting around watching my mailbox, sidewalk, and street for the postal person who today is supposedly delivering to me the new book of poems by Ed Skoog, called Travelers Leaving for the City. At least, I was told it would arrive today, when I ordered it. Hopefully you are doing the same thing – unless you’re lucky enough that your copy has already been delivered? – but if you aren’t, then for gosh sakes make your life better by ordering now. If, by some strange and cruel twist of fate, you aren’t already acquainted with Skoog (feels that should be all-capped, SKOOG, but I’m resisting. Or not), then let me tell you, not only is he a genius poet and writer, but also a champ banjo player, snappy dresser, fleet-footed dancer, and more, but also one of the swellest bar companions you could ever desire. While I’m waiting to spend many hours devouring his newest, I thought I’d ramp up my synapses by re-reading one of his poems from In Their Cups: An Anthology of Poems About Drinking Places, Drinks, and Drinkers. He has two poems in there – both awesome – as well as a few translations (also awesome), which he can do cause he is, as mentioned, a genius. In the feeling of community, I felt you also might want to read a snatch of Skoog if your copy of the latest hasn’t shown, and so here we are with the below.
The Last Saturn Bar Poem
Around the art barn, Mike Frolich’s bar-tab
bartered paintings hang the hell that rose with him
from the Gulf of Mexico floor too fast, torturing
blood with air: maniac fish, demon in a diving bell,
and then from cadmium sunset through marsh comes
the boat bearing forward in grand roving the name
O’Neal, our bartender. Theirs are the dreams we enter,
entering the Saturn Bar’s owly heat re-tooled for unlovely
loss, the rattled corner leaning away from Chartreuse, neat,
and when I’m able to dream jukebox damaged warbling,
a Saturn-like-thing opens within me, but this is the last
Saturn Bar poem–I’ll try, I’ll try–to stop singing
shadows of St. Claude and Clouet on security camera
pavement grays we keep talking about with increasing
reluctance, ready to move on to fresh bewilderments,
spiraling neon, neon that lights up my nameless shot.
–The Last Saturn Bar Poem, Ed Skoog
November 7, 2017
Funny enough (in the curious meaning of the word), though I’m a serious devotee of the television shows Lewis and Endeavor, and a little-less-but-still-enthusiastic about the show they come out of, Inspector Morse, even with all that, I haven’t read much of the original books by Colin Dexter that inspired them all. For no good reason! Lately, though, I’ve caught up on my Morse reading, a bit at least. Including reading The Riddle of the Third Mile, the sixth in the series, and in typical fashion it’s clever, smart, fun, and driven by the personalities of Morse and his sergeant Lewis. There are corpses, pints, Oxford, puzzles, and all the goods, including an intriguing drink menu (!) when one character stops at a naughty club in London. Check out this line-up (I never knew Cointreau was an aphrodisiac. And pulse-quickening Campari!):
She made a note on the pad she held. ‘Would you like me to sit with you?’
‘Yes, I would.’
‘You’d have to buy me a drink.’
She pointed to the very bottom of the card:
• Flamenco Revenge – a marriage of green-eyed Chartreuse with aphrodisiac Cointreau.
• Soho Wallbanger – a dramatic confrontation of voluptuous Vodka with a tantalizing taste of Tia Maria.
• Eastern Ecstasy – an irresistible alchemy of rejuvenating Gin and pulse-quickening Campari.
–Colin Dexter, The Riddle of the Third Mile
April 10, 2015
This is one of those moments where I wonder about my own sanity. I woke up this morning, and thought, “I’ve never had the Bijou recipe on the ol’ Spiked Punch blog. And the Bijou is one of my all-time favorites, at least in the top 20, or 25, somewhere in that range for sure, and a drink I travel back to again and again because of its balance and herbal-spice-nice combination, and cause it’s called the Bijou for Bruce’s sake, and what am I doing not having it on the blog?” So, I thought all that, got up, and instantly made myself a Bijou. You should do the same.
Bijou, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1 -1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish (sometimes this is skipped, but I sorta like it)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Chartreuse, and vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and drop it in.
September 27, 2013
I recently was talking to a friend, and they mentioned that they didn’t like Chartreuse. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t, like, knock them over the noggin with a three-legged stool or anything, but I did decide then and there to never talk to them again (okay, maybe not – but that would have been sorta great). I also decided to go right home and make myself a Chartreuse Daisy, in honor of the lovely herbal French liqueur/aperitif that had been maligned by my one-time friend. I think you should do the same. We certainly don’t want Chartreuse to feel bad, after all.
Chartreuse Daisy, using the recipe from Ginger Bliss
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce grenadine
1 ounce yellow Chartreuse
Strawberry, for garnish
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, lemon juice, and grenadine. Shake very well, until the shaker gets frosty.
2. Fill a goblet three-quarters up with cracked ice. Strain the mixture over the ice. Stir briefly. Float the Chartreuse over the ice, and stir again briefly. Garnish with the strawberry and the orange slice.
July 30, 2013
Way way back where here on this here blog, I posted some (though no one, I hope, would say too much) about the fine, fine collection Everyday Drinking by Kingsley Amis. If you’re interested in writing about drinking, or drinking, or reading, or any of those things jumbled up as in a blender in some way, then I strongly suggest you read said collection. But also check out Mr. Amis’ novels and such, cause they’re darn fine as well. And sometimes have amazing Cocktail Talk-ing going on, like in the below.
Shorty recovered himself, no mean feat after the MacKelvie-provided shot of green Chartreuse, and the Fishwicke-provided shot of Bénédictine he had thrown down on top of everything else.
—Kingsley Amis, Ending Up
June 11, 2010
Though this book was eventually (and is, I suppose) better known as The Gracie Allen Murder Case, and made into a movie of the same name (starring, wouldn’t cha know, Gracie Allen), I love it that my copy is still called The Scent of Murder. Called such because at least three characters work in a perfume factory. I also love that the crime solver is named Philo Vance (played in the movies of course by William Powell, who plays a cocktailing and high class mystery solver better than anyone), and that he’s a bit of a dandy, though tough, too, but with a thoroughly rich, East-Coast-or-English, knows-his-wines-and-colorful-waistcoats-way about him. Really, though people die, this is a somewhat lightly and bubbly read. All that alone would lead to me wanting to drop this quote down for you. However, the real reason is that I think it should inspire you to sip some Chartreuse this weekend (I can’t think of better advice to give).
We had finished our coffee and were sipping our Chartreuse when Sergent Heath, looking grim and bewildered, appeared at the door leading from the main dining room to the veranda, and strode quickly to our table.
–S.S. Van Dine, The Scent of Murder
March 13, 2009
Just two on this lucky day–but two good ones (well, one good drink and one good post). And it’s lucky because A: it’s Friday the 13th (I tend to want to turn around bad luck omens on their heads, so I think of this day as lucky for anyone not camping near a lake. But if you’re silly enough to do that on a day like today, then, well, maybe it’s best you are camping near that lake), and B: yesterday was pal and rapidly-shaking Seattle bartender Andrew Bohrer’s birthday. In honor of said luck, here are two links from his blog, CaskStrength. A blog that’s been a little lonely lately, but only because he just opened a new bar, Naga (which I mentioned more in-depthly here), and is working ferociously to ensure you (yep, you) get the best drinks possible. Which means, if you want to be really, truly lucky, you’ll head out to restaurant Chantanee where bar Naga is (doubly lucky, by the way, cause the food in the restaurant is just amazingly tasty: have the crispy spicy tofu before you dodder on into the afterworld or call your life incomplete), and have him mix you up a drink. Then buy him one for his birthday. And then have him mix you up one. And so on, into the sunset.
Penelope’s Pit Stop: This is way deep in a longer post about elfin-magic-potion Chartreuse, but any drink that combines tequila and the just-mentioned Chartreuse and lemon juice and a muddle pear for gawd’s sake demands to be tried. Or at least be talked about. Or, if not that, be thought about for the rest of this day (a Friday, after all) until you can’t take it any more and rush home to make yourself one. That’s my take on it.
How to Carve an Ice Ball: Okay, this isn’t a drink at all, but whiskey is a drink, and one that I (and most I know) have all by its lonesome on occasion, over a bit of ice usually, and this post from Andrew is about carving an ice ball to serve your whisky over, so as to maximize the ratio of ice to booze. It’s pretty darn cool. And Andrew has ice balls at Naga (and if anyone doesn’t have a childish, 12-yr-old boy laugh at the phrase “Andrew has ice balls at Naga” then they need to go soak their head), and is a bit obsessed with ice balls (I saw him carving one on the bus once), so it’s a worthy post to read.