May 10, 2022
Our second Cocktail Talk from David Frome’s fits-in-the-pocket-sized-book (be sure to read Mr. Pinkerton Goes to Scotland Yard Part I to learn more about the books, the murdering, and such) is brandy-based. It’s a little long, but wanted to set the whole scene, because it calls up multiple deficiencies in modern life. First: not enough people have brandy at hand like this for emergencies. Second: people don’t use the word “nip” enough to refer to a small drink. And third, people also don’t use the phrase “stiff peg” enough for a slightly larger strong pour of spirits in a glass. Let’s all work on bring these three things back into daily life, shall we?
“That Ellinger woman says my sister’s dead – is that true?
“Quite true, Mr. Ripley,” Bull said quietly. “Steady on, sir!”
He caught Hugh Ripley round the shoulders as he swayed in the doorway.
Superintendent Miller jumped to his feet and came over.
“Get some brandy,” he said to the maid. He pushed a chair up. Bull helped Ripley into it.
“I’m all right,” the young man said in a second. “Thanks.”
“This is Sir Charles Debenham, the Assistant Commissioner, and this is Superintendent Miller, of Scotland Yard,” Bull said. “They’re taking a hand in the investigation. Ah, here you are. Take a nip of this, sir.”
He took the decanter that Gaskins had fetched from the dining-room and poured out a stiff peg in the glass she held. Hugh Ripley poured it down his throat.
–David Frome, Mr. Pinkerton Goes to Scotland Yard
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
March 22, 2022
First, before taking in all or even another word, don’t bypass the Killer Take Call Cocktail Talk Part I, to not only find out more about this pulp-tastic thrill and kill ride by James O. Causey (an author I didn’t know before reading this page-turner, but who I am excited to track down more from), but to also find a stitch more about (and be pointed to even more information about) the book that shares a spine with this in my version, The Deadly Pick-up by Milton K. Ozaki. That’s right, I myself picked up a double book book with both of these deadly delights! Which somewhat describes the bar below, too, where the narrator (who gets in a whole peck of trouble, and then more of the same, in the book) orders of all things a Pernod, not something found in too many pulp fictions.
The bar was a murk of red light and cigarette smoke. The erotic sob of invisible violins counterpointed hushed giggles from the booths. It was like a hall of mirrors, the garish light distorting expressions, accenting the slyness, the moist smiles, the shamed hunger.
The bartender drifted over, soundless as a snake. He looking like the doorman’s twin brother.
“Pernod,” I said.
He gave me a half-moon grin and moved down the bar. That order had branded me as one of the boys. I belonged.
–James O. Causey, Killer Take All
February 22, 2022
Don’t miss our Eight Faces at Three, Part I Cocktail Talk, where you can find out more about the book, about the bubbly 1930-ish author who wrote it (and she was the first crime-y writer to be on the cover of Time, which is just a hook to get you to learn more about her, cause there are stories! She being Craig Rice, that is), about how I was tipped to the book (and hopefully through that towards more books by her) by cocktailian and mystery-ian Vince Keenan, and where you can see another quote from the book. When you read said other quote, and our quote below, don’t think as they both are about drinking-in-cars that I am proposing you go out and drink in a car (unless it’s parked)! Cause I’m not. But they are both such jolly quotes, well, I couldn’t skip them. And the book is a darn jolly (outside of a murder or two) read, fast-paced, tipsy, slapstick-y nearly at times, with a little bit of romance to boot. And lots of rye and bubbly!
“Miss Helene,” said Butch joyously,” you’d never guess what I got under them blankets on the floor.”
“Judas!” she said. “Champagne!”
“I thought it seemed sort of appropriate.”
“But no glasses,” she said. “I suppose nobody can think of everything. Just the same, drinking Champagne out of a bottle in a moving car is more than a mere accomplishment.”
–Craig Rice, Eight Faces at Three
December 14, 2021
Before we dive into our second quote and Cocktail Talk from the Cool and Lam (being Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, the star of this book and others) mystery in question, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you towards the Some Slips Don’t Show Part I Cocktail Talk, and all the Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks (he being the writer of said book, as his Cool and Lam-writing alias A.A. Fair, as well as being the writer of course of some books about a lawyer named Perry Freaking Mason), so you can enjoy more drinking fun, after you enjoy the below (which also gives some nice short insight into the Cool and Lam partnership).
“Fifty-seven smackers in one chunk?” she asked, he voice rasping.
“What’s it for? You could have got that broad drunk on gin at a total cost of five bucks. Why the Champagne?”
“It’s for a painting,” I said. “I bought it. It’s called ‘Sun over the Sahara’ and I’m going to put it in a purple frame and –”
“This is long distance, you drunken idiot,” Bertha screamed at me.
–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show
November 23, 2021
Another quote from the Chief Inspector Maigret yarn I’ve been most recently reading (as opposed to all of those I’ve read in the past: check out all the Maigret Cocktail Talks to get a view into some of them – at least don’t miss the Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard Part I Cocktail Talk, to learn more about this particular book by George Simenon), one where our main character sits down in a very serious and thinking mood at his favorite of all Parisian spots – or the one he visits the most, which is saying something, though it is right across from his office – and gives the waiter a little of the Maigret-ness so many criminal have to deal with.
“What’s the Veau Marengo like?”
“Excellent, Monsieur Maigret.”
Without realizing it, he was subjecting the waiter to a look that could not have been sterner if he had been a suspect under interrogation.
“No. A half-bottle of claret.”
He was just being perverse. If the waiter had suggested wine, he would have ordered beer.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard
October 12, 2021
I wasn’t sure we’d have two An Old Man’s Love Cocktail Talks, as it’s a quicker read (especially in comparison with many Trollope gems). However, here we are! I had to feature the quote in Part I (read it, to find out why, and to find out more about the book, the last full novel written by the English great, and for even more, check out all the Trollope Cocktail Talks), and then when mulling things over, didn’t want to miss the below, either. In it, we learn our lead character has had drinking whiskey as a doctor’s recommendation – something that doesn’t happen enough today!
He had, indeed, felt but little his want of success in regard to money, but he had encountered failure in one or two other matters which had touched him nearly. In some things his life had been successful; but these were matters in which the world does not write down a man’s good luck as being generally conducive to his happiness. He had never had a headache, rarely a cold, and not a touch of the gout. One little finger had become crooked, and he was recommended to drink whisky, which he did willingly,—because it was cheap. He was now fifty, and as fit, bodily and mentally, for hard work as ever he had been.
–Anthony Trollope, An Old Man’s Love
September 7, 2021
Don’t miss the weird (!) Owls Don’t Blink Cocktail Talk Part I, or you’ll be sorry (in little ways, maybe, but probably not losing sleep, which would make me sad), which not only has a strange New Orleans-y quote, but more info on this book by Erle Stanley Gardner, though writing as A.A. Fair. And, while being thorough about your research, check out all the Erle Stanley Gardner Cocktail Talks, to get the skinny of how I feel (hmm, is this too much all about me? You’ll get good cocktail quotes, too) about his famous creation Perry Mason, and private investigators Donald Lam and Betha Cool, who star in this particular mystery yarn. In the below quote, Lam is taking one of the potentially murderous (!) female characters in the book out for a ginormous dinner. I can’t imagine eating this much, but in the 40s, people were heartier.
The waiter brought our daiquiris. We touched glasses, took the first sip.
The waiter stood by our table, exerting a silent pressure for our orders.
“Could you bring some oysters on the half shell with a lot of cocktail sauce, some horseradish and lemon?” I asked. “Then bring us some of those cold, peppered shrimp, some onion soup, a steak about three inches thick, done medium rare, some French-fried onions, shoestring potatoes, cut some French bread, put on lots of butter, sprinkle on just a trace of garlic, put it in the oven, let it get good and hot so the butter melts all through the bread, put some sparkling Burgundy on the ice, and after that bring us a dish of ice cream, a huge pot of coffee, and the check.”
The waiter never batted an eyelash. “I could do that very nicely, sir.”
–Erle Stanley Gardner (writing as A.A. Fair), Owls Don’t Blink