August 22, 2017
I started (after the predictable intro note) another round of Charles Dickens Cocktail Talks from Our Mutual Friend just a skip or two ago, so be sure you read Part I. Now is good! Okay, back? You have the set up? And are ready for this next quote? Good! It’s perhaps the very first Cocktail Talk to mention shrub, the vinegar-y mixer that’s made a comeback (like so many things) during the recent cocktail renaissance. Here, interestingly, it’s served warm to one of the novels many heroines-of-sorts (at least I think she could), in the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters, one of the many amazing bars that show up in Dickens.
“But first of all,” said Miss Abbey, “– did you ever taste shrub, child?”
Miss Wren shook her head.
“Should you like to?”
“Should if it’s good,” returned Miss Wren.
“You shall try. And, if you find it good, I’ll mix some for you with hot water. Put your poor little feet on the fender. It’s a cold, cold night, and the fog clings so.” As Miss Abbey helped her to turn her chair, her loosened bonnet dropped on the floor. “Why, what lovely hair!” cried Miss Abbey. “And enough to make wigs for all the dolls in the world. What a quantity!”
“Call THAT a quantity?” returned Miss Wren. “Poof! What do you say to the rest of it?” As she spoke, she untied a band, and the golden stream fell over herself and over the chair, and flowed down to the ground. Miss Abbey’s admiration seemed to increase her perplexity. She beckoned the Jew towards her, as she reached down the shrub-bottle from its niche, and whispered:
“Child, or woman?”
“Child in years,” was the answer; “woman in self-reliance and trial.”
“You are talking about Me, good people,” thought Miss Jenny, sitting in her golden bower, warming her feet. “I can’t hear what you say, but I know your tricks and your manners!”
The shrub, when tasted from a spoon, perfectly harmonizing with Miss Jenny’s palate, a judicious amount was mixed by Miss Potterson’s skillful hands, whereof Riah too partook. After this preliminary, Miss Abbey read the document; and, as often as she raised her eyebrows in so doing, the watchful Miss Jenny accompanied the action with an expressive and emphatic sip of the shrub and water.
–Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
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
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
April 19, 2016
Our second Cocktail Talk from the collection Miss Darkness: The Great Short Crime Fiction of Fredric Brown comes from the story “The Jabberwocky Murders,” which does indeed have a Lewis Carroll strain running all the way through it – just as you’d expect from a literary yarn spinner. Be sure to check out Part I of our little boozy run through the book. Here, not a specific drink, but a great line about drinking and reading:
But with a bottle in my pocket and good company waiting for me there, my old tried-and-true friends in the bookcase. Reading a book is almost like listening to the man who wrote it talk. Except that you don’t have to be polite. You can take your shoes off and put your feet up on the table and drink and forget who you are.
–Fredric Brown, Miss Darkness