April 26, 2022
Just a few weeks back I had a Chester Himes Cocktail Talk (called The Crazy Kill, Part III) where I bemoaned the fact that I hadn’t had any Cocktail Talking from the amazing Chester Himes in many a year, and talked more about my love of his work, especially his Harlem-based novels featuring police detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones (some of the finest characters created in detective fiction I think, with razor dialogue, sharp personalizations, and many memorable moments). I was thinking about it enough that I had to re-read some more from Mr. Himes, and so went with All Shot Up (check out the All Shot Up Cocktail Talk Part I, and all the Chester Himes Cocktail Talks), which boasts a robbery, chilly temps, a hit-and-run (with all sorts of twists), violence, politicians and politics, dark humor, plot shenanigans, and much more rollicking over the page at a blistering pace. Including the below quote, which reminded me of the first time I read the book. When I saw the drink referenced below on that first read years and years back, I reached out to the great Gary Regan (one of the bar world’s fine gentlemen, and sadly now slinging and drinking drinks at the big bar in the beyond), knowing he both knew endless amounts about drinks but also that he had a taste for mystery and detective fiction, too, just to see if he’d heard of the drink. He hadn’t, but did some research (always kind, Mr. Regan), and even though he didn’t track down another mention of it, we had a fine time talking it through and talking over the book. Here’s to him, and to Chester Himes, and for that matter to you, too.
He was drinking a tall frappe highball of dark rum with a streak of grenadine running down the center, called a “Josephine Baker.” If La Baker herself had been running stark nude in the bottom of his glass he could not have given her any more attention.
–Chester Himes, All Shot Up
July 18, 2017
I recently picked up a little book (just a little too big to fit in a shirt pocket) called The World’s Best 100 Detective Stories
– my book is volume one of ten – published in 1929. I won’t say that I disagree with an editor’s prerogative, but even as someone who has read a lot of detective fiction from many time periods, I hadn’t heard of many of the authors within, and wasn’t blown away by some of the choices. But it’s a fun little book to have no matter what, and in one of the stories, “The Sting of the Wasp,” by Richard Connell, there’s a fair amount of cocktail-ing, before a murder. Or is it?
“Well, the cocktails warmed up Oakley, made him communicative – for him. We were talking along about nothing in particular, when suddenly he burst out, ‘That cur, Cope! I saw him today, looking at me with those evil green eyes of his. I’ll never be happy – or safe – while he’s in the world. I’d kill him like a rat if I thought I could get away with it!’
I told Oakley he was a fool to talk like that – to me or anybody. He calmed down, and said he didn’t mean it. But he did, Matthew.”
“No doubt. Well, what them?”
“Here is what happened tonight: Oakley had dinner alone. He drank too much – four stiff cocktails, a half-bottle of Sauternes, and a highball.”
–Richard Connell, “The Sting of the Wasp”
December 23, 2014
I’ve had a fair number of Raymond Chandler Cocktail Talk posts, which you might expect cause the hard-boiled tend to have serious imbibables when they’re not talking sharp, solving crimes, getting smacked and dealing out smacks, and cuddling the ladies. The High Window is no different, and one of the tops of the Marlowe realm I believe. I recently re-read it, and found all sorts of choice whiskey moments, and drinky times. This one’s a champ. I hope Mr. Chandler got at least a bottle of Four Roses because of it. And it’ll help you get ready for serving multiple drinks round the holiday season.
I got a bottle of Four Roses out of the kitchen closet and three glasses. I got ice and ginger ale from the icebox and mixed three highballs and carried them in on a tray and sat the tray down on the cocktail table in from the davenport where Breeze was sitting.
–Raymond Chandler, The High Window
November 19, 2008
The Four Fists is a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which generally retells the narrative (in a few key scenes) of one character’s (Samuel Meredith) life. The scenes, as you might guess from the title, all revolve around times when he was punched in the nose. And then afterwards learned something from said punching that made him a better person. Don’t think I’m advocating violence as a solution here (I’m a drinker, not a fighter), but the quote below seemed to go so well with my fall highball-ish Hour Glass below that it seemed apropos. There are lots of good swilling moments in Mr. Fitzgerald’s stories (those jazz agers and floppers loved the cocktails and bubbly, bless ‘em all), so expect more Cocktail Talk from him later.
“He played football in the autumn, drank highballs in the winter; and rowed in the spring. Samuel despised all those who were merely sportsmen without being gentlemen, or merely gentlemen without being sportsmen.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Four Fists”
November 18, 2008
All right, all right, I know it may seem strange (not groovy and mystical like Dr. Strange either, but just downright odd) to be sipping a bubbly-cooling-kind-of-a-drink in Seattle’s damp and dreary mid-to-late November, but I’ve been working hard stocking the shelves (virtual shelves surely, but shelves) and shilling the books, not to mention raking the inordinate amount of leaves in my backyard (and, you know what, if Mr. Cherry Tree is reading this, please stop dropping basketfuls of your leaves on the ground the minute I get finished raking said ground. Wait a couple days at least. Give me that, for gosh sakes.), or writing this sentence which will never stop. Anyway, I was feeling the need for a refresher last night, but one that still had an underlying . . . strength of character. I didn’t want to go teeth-rotting sweetness, but did want a hint of sunshine. And, I wanted to be able to name drop a second super hero in one post (Hourman, that is). All of which led me to the Hour Glass:
1 ounce Cognac
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce absinthe
Chilled club soda
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, Cointreau, and absinthe. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture over the ice, and then fill the glass with club soda (unless it’s a large-ish highball, then just go up three-quarters of the way).
3. Squeeze the lemon twist over the glass and drop it in.