June 29, 2021
Ah, Poirot. Hercule Poirot, that is (are there other Poirots? If so, I feel for them). I know that with many books, shows, films, poems, and sculptures, some may feel a Poirot overload at times – and this isn’t even to mention the many, many, Poirot imitations and bowdlerizations. But I still love the egg-shaped Belgian, in book and movie and TV show form. Thank you Mrs. Christie! Somedays, dipping back into a Poirot yarn is just the relief a long day needs. Especially when Poirot starts hitting the sweet liqueurs (you could probably guess this), which I’ll admit also loving, probably a rarity among English speakers in his day (well, the day his adventures were set within, that is), though hopefully something not as rare today, with our lucky-for-us wider palate of bar bottle resources and consumption. Hopefully! Anyway, this is all to say, I was re-reading the classic Poirot book Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, which has it all – a murder, a perhaps wronged potential murderer, small town England townies, historical murders, more murders, and very tight patent-leather shoes. Plus: well-groomed mustaches of course! And, a wonderful listing of Poirot’s fav sweet tipples, and beer.
Poirot pressed his guest with refreshments. A grenadine? Crème de Menthe? Benedictine? Crème de Cacao…
At this moment George entered with a tray on which was a whisky bottle and a siphon. “Or beer if you prefer it, sir?” he murmured to the visitor.
Superintendent Spence’s large red face lightened.
“Beer for me,” he said.
Poirot was left to wonder once more at the accomplishments of George. He himself had had no idea that there was beer in the flat and it seemed incomprehensible to him that it could be preferred to a sweet liqueur.
When Spence had his foaming tankard, Poirot poured himself out a tiny glass of gleaming green crème de menthe.
–Agatha Christie, Mrs. McGinty’s Dead
March 19, 2021
You ever wake up and think to yourself as the mists of Morpheus (hahaha, that’s deep yo) roll away from your ever-loving brain, “what I really want to do today is have a Stinger?” I’m sure you, as most, do. Because, though this might be too, oh, lace-doily-y for many at first glance (crème de menthe not having that renaissance that many liquids have been having oh these last 20 odd years), when that “many,” or most of many at least, realize the hefty shot of brandy this is based on, one hopes they take a second look, realize not every drink needs like 6 or 10 obscurities to be tasty, then follows that up with a realization that maybe some of those lace-doily lovers had a good idea of a good drink, and then these smart people make one of these, love it, and at a future date go through the morning ritual described above. At that point, the only question is: at what point in the day should you have said Stinger? And the answer is: right now, friend, right now.
The Stinger (using the recipe from Dark Spirits)
Ice cubes or cracked ice (depending on if you’re stirring or shaking, see Step 1 below)
2-1/2 ounces brandy (or Cognac, if the bottle and desire and daring is nearby)
1/2 ounce white crème de menthe
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy and crème de menthe. Stir well, or shake. Honestly, I like to stir here, in traditionally manner. But, I also think this is one drink that needs to be well-chilled. So, do what’s best.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass. Bee-lieve it!
February 25, 2020
Well, as I said recently (as I’m sure you recall), I’ve been reading a book every pulp, detective, mystery, American literature lover should read, The Giant Collection of the Continental Op. By dashing (okay, I’m not the first to say this) Dashiell Hammett, author of, well, if you don’t know I feel for you, cause the list includes some of the best works from last century (including The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and The Glass Key, all seminal works of words), in this giant collection, you’ll find a huge host of stories featuring his un-named, pudgy (but tough), old-ish (but tough), work-a-day detective, and all keep the pace up, and often the body-count. A great read, I must say, so great that I had to have two Cocktail Talks from it. If you missed the first (the Golden Horseshoe Cocktail Talk) then go check it. This second one isn’t quite as drunk-y, and includes a lot of food. But I couldn’t miss it, cause it has the Continental Op drinking crème de menthe, which is both awesome and hard to picture.
Two men servants waited on us. There was a lot of food and all of it was well turned out. We are caviar, some sort of consume, sand dabs, potatoes and cucumber jelly, roast lamb, corn and string beans, asparagus, wild deck and hominy cakes, artichoke-and-tomato salad, and orange ice. We drank white wine, claret, Burgundy, coffee, and crème de menthe.
–Dashiell Hammett, The Farewell Murder
June 12, 2015
During the summer months (and really, even though we’re not officially in summer, let’s call it summer, okay? June feels like summer to me. Go with it), it’s tempting to have a drink called The Snowball – right? Right. But, there are so many! There’s the one with advocaat (the liqueur made from egg, sugar, and brandy) and sparkling lemonade. There’s another with brandy, simple syrup, an egg, and ginger ale. Both have their moments. But today, this particular day, I’m going with the below, which is wonderful on an early summer’s night, and of which famed drink explorer Harry Craddock said, around 1930, “This is women’s work.” Hah, I’ll show you Harry.
The Snowball, with the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce crème de violette
1/2 ounce white crème de menthe
1/2 ounce anisette
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, crème de violette, crème de menthe, anisette, and cream to a cocktail shaker. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
March 3, 2015
I’ve had three different Charles Williams Cocktail Talk posts, and you should go read them all. All of them! Both cause you’ll be able to learn a little more about this master of thriller/pulp/mystery writing, and cause then I don’t have to go through it all again. You don’t want me to be repetitive, right? Anywho, I have a fair amount of Charles Williams’ books, enough that I’m always worried I won’t be able to find more – but then super happy when I do, as I recently when I picked up The Wrong Venus. It’s a rollicking read, which starts on a high note and never really lets up until the last page. What does that mean? If you like books that move fast, this one’s for you. And it also has a great scene with both Cointreau and crème de menthe. Really!
‘Do you have any Cointreau?’
‘Cointreau?’ It was obvious she thought he was crazy.
‘You do sell liquor on these flights, don’t you?’
‘Yes, of course . . . But with this turbulence, naturally we couldn’t bring the cart through. And we don’t have any Cointreau anyway.’
‘Then crème de menthe?’
‘Y-e-e-s, I think so. But I’m afraid only the white . . .’
He was conscious again of time hurtling past him, but managed a reassuring smile. ‘It’s all right. I only drink in the dark.’
–Charles Williams, The Wrong Venus
April 18, 2014
I’ve taken a lot of flak for my love of Stingers. “That’s a granny drink,” behatted bronc-busters have bellyached, while tight-jeaned fillies laugh, joking, “You’re a fogey for drinking brandy,” and everyone would cackle at my black-and-yellow bee suit (worn in honor of the Stinger). But those people are idiots. IDIOTS. If you don’t also want to fall into this category, then Stinger up. You’ll be happier, too. Trust me. You can trust me, right?
The Stinger (from Dark Spirits)
2-1/2 ounces brandy (or Cognac, if you’re feeling it)
1/2 ounce white crème de menthe
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy and crème de menthe (be sure it’s the white kind, ’cause green gets icky). Shake, while proclaiming your Stinger affection loudly.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass, being sure not to spill any on your bee costume.
June 18, 2013
I’ve had some Cocktail Talk from Cornell Woolrich here on this blog already, and sung his praises. Which are deserved, cause he created the whole genre of “noir” as much as anyone, and was a pulp-a-teer of the first rate. His book Black Alibi fits as noir, too, though it’s different in a way, as it takes place in South America, has a killer jaguar (or does it?), and is told from a number of perspectives, including the victims in the book. It took me a bit to get in to, but once I did, I was hooked. There’s also lots of drinks and bar talk, including the following, which is part of one character’s musings about the bar scene throughout an evening.
Midnight to about two was the zenith. Meridian of her “day.” That was when the shows let out. They let out late in Ciudad Real. The Casino Bleu, the Madrid out in the park (she never went out there, though; too far to walk back in case you didn’t connect), the Jockey Club, the Tabain, the Select. Those were the places to seek out then. This was the cream of the night life, swarming with the sports, the swells, the heavy spenders. Most of them had cabaret entertainment; if not, tango bands and dancing at the very least. Benedictine, then. Crème de menthe. Sometimes even Champagne.
–Cornell Woolrich, Black Alibi