November 7, 2023
We are back at the Maypole (be sure and see the Barnaby Rudge Cocktail Talk Part I for more on the pub in question – lovely place that it is – and more on the book, and while you’re at it, check out the Barnaby Rudge Part II Cocktail Talk, and for that matter, all of the Dickens Cocktail Talks) for our third installation of tipsily delightful quotes from Dickens lesser-read, sadly, but still classic novel. This quote centers on the flip. Not the acrobatic movement, but the drink, very popular at one point in history, but not seen as much today, which is a shame, as you’ll see in the below that it isn’t just delicious, but also changes the whole atmosphere in a swell manner.
Nay, it was felt to be such a holiday and special night, that, on the motion of little Solomon Daisy, every man (including John himself) put down his sixpence for a can of flip, which grateful beverage was brewed with all despatch, and set down in the midst of them on the brick floor; both that it might simmer and stew before the fire, and that its fragrant steam, rising up among them, and mixing with the wreaths of vapour from their pipes, might shroud them in a delicious atmosphere of their own, and shut out all the world. The very furniture of the room seemed to mellow and deepen in its tone; the ceiling and walls looked blacker and more highly polished, the curtains of a ruddier red; the fire burnt clear and high, and the crickets in the hearthstone chirped with a more than wonted satisfaction.
–Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge
September 12, 2023
We continue along our Vanity Fair-ing, with Cocktail Talks and drinks, right here! Oh, because I like you, I’m gonna remind you that you need to be sure and catch the Vanity Fair Part I and Vanity Fair Part II Cocktail Talks, to read up more about the book itself (just a wee bit, cause if you want to go deep, there are better sources), and catch some sips of Champagne and other delights, including the mysterious (today) Rack Punch! Then come back here and get some rum-shrub, after the theater and oysters. Everybody’s doing it!
In the company of this gentleman they visited all the principal theatres of the metropolis; knew the names of all the actors from Drury Lane to Sadler’s Wells; and performed, indeed, many of the plays to the Todd family and their youthful friends, with West’s famous characters, on their pasteboard theatre. Rowson, the footman, who was of a generous disposition, would not unfrequently, when in cash, treat his young master to oysters after the play, and to a glass of rum-shrub for a night-cap. We may be pretty certain that Mr. Rowson profited in his turn by his young master’s liberality and gratitude for the pleasures to which the footman inducted him.
–William Thackeray, Vanity Fair
March 7, 2023
Here’s one more Bleak House Cocktail Talk for you, before we back away for now (cause there might be more in the future) from one of the finest books of all time, a big ol’ masterpiece by one of the masters themselves, Charles Dickens. Don’t miss the Bleak House Cocktail Talks Part I and Part II either, if you find yourself behind on your reading, so you can score a few more quotes and learn a bit more about the book (though who am I kidding – you probably know it well yourself already, cause you’re cool like that). This last quote features Mr. Bucket, one of the first detectives in literature. He’s an interesting character (duh! It is Dickens), and detective, as at the beginning when he shows up, you might think “hmm, not so sure about him – tool of the man? Not on the side of right and justice?” but then as he unfolds and becomes more realized and more spotlighted you think “yeah, Mr. Bucket! He’s the stuff!” There have been many created detectives that take some Bucketian characteristics since he made the scene, but none exactly like him. For one, how many detectives drink sherry? Not enough.
Having put the letters in his book of fate and girdled it up again, he unlocks the door just in time to admit his dinner, which is brought upon a goodly tray with a decanter of sherry. Mr. Bucket frequently observes, in friendly circles where there is no restraint, that he likes a toothful of your fine old brown East Inder sherry better than anything you can offer him. Consequently, he fills and empties his glass with a smack of his lips and is proceeding with his refreshment when an idea enters his mind.
–Charles Dickens, Bleak House
October 4, 2022
Sorry, after last week’s Kill and Tell Cocktail Talk (read that one for a little more information on the book by Howard Rigsby), I realized I had to have at least one more, while I could still type – before the Martini kicks in. It’s not actually as drinky a book as some from the era, and the PI star isn’t as hard-drinking as others (he turns down a number of drinks), but hey, it’s not like he isn’t gonna drink at all!
“What would you like to drink?” I asked. “I can make a fair Martini.”
She had begun to look worried again, but she seemed to shrug it off. She smiled. “A Martini sounds grand.”
I made it five to one, and when she had tasted it she rolled her eyes upward. “While I can still talk there’s something I’d like to tell you,” she said.
I came back with a bourbon and soda and sat down.
–Howard Rigsby, Kill and Tell
September 13, 2022
For our final What Rhymes with Murder? Cocktail Talk (and don’t miss What Rhymes with Murder? Part I and Part II to get some more boozing, sure, but also to learn more about this Jack Iams’ 1950 mystery, where a British flirty poet gets shot, a reporter hero tries to track down the murder as he’s a suspect, and where the society page grand dame reporter might be the best shamus of the bunch!) I have what I’m thinking is one of the finest moments in the however many years I’ve been writing here: the mention of grappa in a 1950s pulp pocketbook! Really! Amazing! I love grappa, being like one of the big grappa pushers I know, and someone who brings back bottles of obscure-in-the-US grappas in my suitcase when traveling to Italy every year. So, when I saw the below, I was very, very happy. You will be, too.
I went around the corner to Frascini’s, a restaurant where a lot of newspapermen and politicians and cops hung out. It was crowded, and I had a feeling that people were staring at me, and after a bowl of minestrone, I didn’t want anything more.
“Whatsa matter, you sick?” asked Tony Frascini.
“No, just shaky.”
“Have a grappa. Fix you up.”
–Jack Iams, What Rhymes with Murder?
July 26, 2022
Our final stop (don’t miss The Unholy Trio Cocktail Talks Part I and Part II, by the way) in my latest Henry Kane yarn featuring two-fisted sharp-dressing quick-shooting kiss-a-lot-of-girls PI Peter Chambers. This quote almost didn’t make it to the site, as I wasn’t sure it was Cocktail Talk-y enough, but really, any time someone in a book is drinking a Rob Roy, it needs Cocktail Talking. And a Dry Rob Roy (not sure I’ve heard that much)? Forget about it! Read the other two in the series to get more book details, but not before you drink up the below.
“What are you drinking? Lunch is on me.”
“I’m going to get paid.”
“That you are.” I had brought a blank check. “Dry Rob Roy,” I said to the waiter. The menus were already on the table.
“Congratulations,” Arnie said.
“I believe you got married.”
“Oh. Thanks.” Miranda wouldn’t have told him. She was as cozy with information as Cosa Nostra. “How do you know?” I said.
“How do I know? Heck, there was a spread in every newspaper.”
“Yes, there was, wasn’t there?” My drink arrived and I drank it, quickly.
–Henry Kane, The Unholy Trio
June 7, 2022
As I was re-reading Can You Forgive Her?, the first in what’s commonly (though there is nothing common about them!) known as the Palliser novels, by long-time Spiked Punch pal Anthony Trollope, I realized that I couldn’t just have one more Cocktail Talk, oh no, I had to have at least two more. This being the second, and you being the reader that (if you haven’t read them) needs to go back and read the Can You Forgive Her? Cocktail Talk Part I (way back for that one) and then Part II (less farther back). That way you’ll be all caught and perfectly ready for the brilliantly named Burgo below, and for a little cherry brandy.
“Burgo, you had better eat your breakfast,” said Sir Cosmo.
“I don’t want any breakfast.” He took, however, a bit of toast, and crumbling it up in his hand as he put a morsel into his mouth, went away to the sideboard and filled for himself a glass of cherry brandy.
“If you don’t eat any breakfast the less of that you take the better,” said Sir Cosmo.
“I’m all right now,” said he.
— Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?
May 16, 2022
Our third and last Mr. Pinkerton Goes to Scotland Yard Cocktail Talk (don’t miss, I tell you, don’t miss Part I and Part II, to learn more about the book and all such) shows the dangers of having Champagne cocktails after going to the movies! Very dangerous. And is also fun in a sort-of overly-dramatic way that reminds me of old motions pictures somewhat! With it, we say goodbye to little Mr. Pinkerton, for now, at least!
She laughed as if it weren’t really funny, but there it was.
“Monty and I had a Champagne cocktail or two at a club after the picture and decided we’d do that to Hugh, and then he’d see he was losing me and he’d say “I can’t let you go, you are mine,” and then it wouldn’t matter so much about his mother. Well, we did. We announced to Auntie and the Ripleys that we’d come to an understanding, and . . . and . . .
Linda Darrell bit her lip and smiled brightly.
–David Frome, Mr. Pinkerton Goes to Scotland Yard