July 2, 2019
Another from our series of Maigret Cocktail Talk
posts featuring famous stoic, tall, Parisian Inspector Maigret, created by the celebrated author Georges Simenon, who wrote said Inspector as one who is not shy about having a sip of something boozy here and there. Even when he’s in retirement and not an Inspector (well, really, he’ll always be the tops to his past police pals, and the world at large, which is how he gets involved in this particular post-police case, which a matriarch of a family brings him in to look over a supposed suicide — it’s a sort-of extra long story, which I read in the Maigret’s Christmas
collection) at all. Also, he still has some drinks. Including some kümmel with the landlady of a very down-in-the-mouth hotel he is staying at.
“I wouldn’t mind a glass of something,” he had said, sitting down or rather straddling a chair beside her. “What about you Madame Jeanne. What will you take?”
“Nothing, Monsieur. I’d better not drink. Everything upsets me.”
“A tiny drop of liquor?”
“Well, just to keep you company … some kümmel, then. Will you help yourself? The bottles are on the shelf. My legs are so terribly swollen this evening.
Kümmel was her tipple then. And he, too, had drunk kümmel out of politeness. It had left him still feeling queasy. He vowed never to touch a drop of kümmel again in his life.
— Georges Simenon, Maigret in Retirement
April 16, 2019
My love of, and diving into, the George Simenon Maigret canon has been well documented here on the Spiked Punch, with loads of Simenon Cocktail Talks
that you should go back and read and love. This one here, the newest as I write this at least, cause I’m sure they’ll be more, sees our man Maigret drawn into the wacky world of Parisian (and France, in general) politics, which he doesn’t always enjoy, but which it’s fun to see him navigate and he tried to unravel a corruption case. As usual, he and his team have an assortment of drinks along the way, starting with some sloe gin, but leaning heaviest I believe into Pernod.
And Maigret felt slightly guilty vis-à-vis his two colleagues. Lapointe too must have realized by now what it was all about.
“A beer?” suggested Maigret.
“No. A Pernod.”
And that too was out of character for Lucas. They waited for the drinks to be served, and then continued in hushed tones.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Minister
December 25, 2018
Another choice read and Cocktail Talk from George Simenon and my pal (well, it almost feels like it now – check out the past Maigret Cocktail Talks) Inspector Maigret. This read, Lock 14, that is, takes place as you might expect at a lock, and not only is it a regular atmospheric mighty Maigret mystery, but it’s also an interesting look into how commerce and people operated along the lock series and system at the time (for example, I had no idea how many barges were pulled along by horses that were kept on board, with their “carter” who led them and took care of them), and the bars that sprung up alongside the locks. The below is a good little look into one.
The lockkeeper accompanied his relations as far as the main road to Epernay, which crossed the canal two miles from the lock.
He saw nothing unusual. As he was passing the Café la Marine on his way back, he looked inside and was hailed by a pilot.
“Come and have a drop! You’re soaking wet . . .”
He had a rum, still standing. Two carters got to their feet, sluggish with red wine, their eyes shining, and made for the stable adjoining the café, where they slept on the straw next to their horses.
They were not exactly drunk. But they had had enough wine to send them into a heavy sleep.
–George Simenon, Lock 14
May 1, 2018
Well, my Maigret completism still has a long ways to go, but I made another little dent recently, picking up four volumes which I hadn’t yet read at a book sale. Which probably means more Maigret Cocktail Talk posts
, lucky you, because he does like a drink (or two, even when his doctor friend warns him off the sauce), as he wanders around Paris and France, solving murders and more (though usually there’s a murder). The first of the new batch that I read was Maigret and the Madwoman, and it’s typically great, and with a sad-but-underlying, oh, sweet-worldweary-ness (can that even make sense? It felt right when typing) that Simenon delivers via Maigret like no other. Read it, on a spring day at dusk, and you’ll get what I mean. Also, you’ll get this quote – perhaps the only Tom Collins quote in a Maigret book? I feel I’ve seen another, but can’t recall perfectly.
The butler, in a white jacket, had followed them out and stood, a watchful figure, awaiting orders.
“What would you like to drink? May I suggest a Tom Collins? I know of nothing more refreshing at this time of day.”
Maigret and Marella indicated their approval.
“Two Tom Collinses, Georges, and the usual for me.”
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Madwoman
August 1, 2017
Not too long ago (and only the briefest of moments in the grand scheme of things), I had a Cocktail Talk post up from the very first Inspector Maigret book by George Simenon, Pietr the Latvian. I’ve had a number of Maigret Cocktail Talks, btw. Foolish as I was way back in those days, I thought I’d only need one post from the book. But, now that I am older and wiser, I realize that two are needed, no demanded. Really, this second Cocktail Talk from our (if we read the books in order, which I did not, but for the sake of things, let’s pretend) first sampling of the stoic French Inspector, is an ideal companion to the first, so it’d be a shame not to quote it here:
Maigret had ordered a vermouth. He looked even taller and wider than ever in the confined space of the bar. He didn’t take his eyes off the Latvian.
He was having something like double vision. Just as had happened to him in the hotel lobby, he could see one image superimposed on another: Behind the current scene, he had a vision of the squalid bar in Fecamp. Pietr was going double. Maigret could see him in his cinnamon suite and in his worn-out raincoat at the same time.
“I’m telling you I’d rather do that than get beaten up!” one of the builders exclaimed, banging his glass down on the counter.
Pietr was now on his third glass of green liquid. Maigret could smell the aniseed in it.
–George Simenon, Pietr the Latvian
July 11, 2017
Hey, it’s time for another Cocktail Talk featuring George Simenon’s legendary French detective Maigret, the stoic, large, over-coated, café-visiting crime solver. If you haven’t yet, check out past Maigret Cocktail Talks. This particular one, though, is from the very first of his books, which I was super excited to find in a little bookstore in Edmunds, WA. Sometimes the world lines up in great ways. And sometimes you have to drink an absinthe substitute with guttersnips in a dive bar.
Overall the man fitted a type that Maigret knew well: the migrant low-lifer of Eastern European origin who slept in squalid lodging houses and sometimes in railway stations. A type not often seen outside Paris, but accustomed to travelling in third-class carriages when not riding the footboards or hopping freight trains.
He got proof of his insight a few minutes later. Fécamp doesn’t have any genuine low dives, but behind the harbour there are two or three squalid bars favoured by dockhands and seamen. Ten metres before these places there’s a regular café kept clean and bright. The man in the trench coat walked right past it and straight into the least prepossessing of the bars where he put his elbow on the counter in a way that Maigret saw right through.
It was the straightforwardly vulgar body-language of a guttersnipe. Even if he’d tried, Maigret couldn’t have imitated it. The inspector followed the man into the bar. He’d ordered an absinthe substitute and was just standing there, wordless, with a blank stare on his face. He didn’t register Maigret’s presence, though the inspector was now right next to him.
–George Simenon, Pietr the Latvian
May 23, 2017
Welcome to the final entry strolling through Paris drinks had in this particular Maigret story (be sure to read Part I and Part II so as not to miss anything, and for that matter, don’t miss all the Maigret Cocktail Talks, and if you want to know even more about his drinking, check out this study of Maigret drinks). This takes place near the end of the case, and finally Maigret himself is getting a drink (well, he may have had a few more – I couldn’t write out the whole book here!), with one of his police compadres.
“Did you find her?” asked the waiter.
“Nice, isn’t she? What will you have?”
“A hot grog for me.”
“The same for me.”
“Two grogs, two!”
“This afternoon, when you’ve had some sleep, you’ll be writing your report.”
— George Simenon, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar
May 16, 2017
If you missed our first bout of May Maigret Cocktail Talking, and want to learn more about the burglaring, then by all means, please go read Part I. I’ll wait.
Back? Awesome! Let’s get into our second quote, which is taking place in a small bistro, with Maigret questioning the publican (or, here, I suppose, bisto-lican), who relates a story of said lazy burglar and his desire for . . . well, just read it, why dontcha.
“I was busy with the coffee percolator. I didn’t hear any footsteps. And when I turned round, there he was, leaning on the bar. It gave me quite a turn.”
“That’s why you remembered it?”
“And for another reason, because he asked me if I had any real Kirsch, not the fancy stuff. . . We don’t get too many orders for that. I took a bottle from the back row – that one there, with the German words on the label – and he seemed pleased. He said:
“‘That’s the real thing.’”
“He took the time to warm the glass in his hand, and drank slowly, looking at the clock. I realized he was wondering whether to ask for another, and when I held out the bottle he didn’t say no.”
— George Simenon, Maigret and the Lazy Burglar