August 25, 2020
This is our final Cocktail Talk from Wilkie Collins’ dandy (if long, as a warning – not a scary warning, but just a “know what you’re getting into” warning – book) No Name. If you haven’t read the No Name Part I Cocktail Talk or the No Name Part II Cocktail Talk, I strongly suggest, in an amiable way, that you do, just to get more background on the book, learn about monks drinking grog and whiskey-swilling carriage drivers, and feel your day is complete. Also, those two follow the more traditional Spiked Punch Cocktail Talk style, in that they actually talk about drinks, spirits, booze, and all of that. WHAT! I can hear you say. “How can the below quote be a Cocktail Talk, without, well, cocktails (or such) in it?” Well, it is my site, but instead of belaboring that point, let me site precedence, in a past Cocktail Talk from one of Collins’ bosom buddies (in the main, though authors can be cranky, am I right?), Charles Dickens. Specifically, the Dombey and Son, Part IV Cocktail Talk, which is about one of my (which is saying a lot), maybe my all-time (which would really be saying a lot) Dickens’ characters, Diogenes the dog. And the below No Name Cocktail Talk is about dogs, too, in this case two dogs. Brutus and Cassius. They aren’t at Diogenes’ level – only some dogs are! – but they are good dogs, and this scene of their owner Admiral Bartram at dinner (being served by the books heroine – in disguise! – Magdalen) is charming. So, forgive the lack of booze below, but enjoy the abundance of pups.
The two magnificent dogs sat squatted on their haunches, with their great heads over the table, watching the progress of the meal, with the profoundest attention, but apparently expecting no share in it. The roast meat was removed, the admiral’s plate was changed, and Magdalen took the silver covers off the two made-dishes on either side of the table. As she handed the first of the savory dishes to her master, the dogs suddenly exhibited a breathless personal interest in the proceedings. Brutus gluttonously watered at the mouth; and the tongue of Cassius, protruding in unutterable expectation, smoked again between his enormous jaws.
The admiral helped himself liberally from the dish; sent Magdalen to the side-table to get him some bread; and, when he thought her eye was off him, furtively tumbled the whole contents of his plate into Brutus’s mouth. Cassius whined faintly as his fortunate comrade swallowed the savory mess at a gulp. “Hush! you fool,” whispered the admiral. “Your turn next!”
Magdalen presented the second dish. Once more the old gentleman helped himself largely – once more he sent her away to the side-table, once more he tumbled the entire contents of the plate down the dog’s throat, selecting Cassius this time, as became a considerate master and an impartial man. When the next course followed – consisting of a plain pudding and an unwholesome “cream” – Magdalen’s suspicion of the function of the dogs at the dinner-table was confirmed. While the master took the simple pudding, the dogs swallowed the elaborate cream. The admiral was plainly afraid of offending his cook on the one hand, and of offending his digestion on the other – and Brutus and Cassius were the two trained accomplices who regularly helped him every day off the horns of his dilemma. “Very good! very good!” said the old gentleman, with the most transparent duplicity. “Tell the cook, my dear, a capital cream!”
–Wilkie Collins, No Name
July 21, 2020
Well, this should surprise no-one who knows me in the littlest, but I’ve been re-reading one of Charles Dickens’ legendary books (that category of “legendary” covers all his books, more-or-less), as I do on regular occasions. This time, The Old Curiosity Shop, and as with every time I re-read Dickens, I found more to love that I had forgotten, re-read passages I remembered and loved, and was reminded of the glorious humorousness of Dick Swiveller, the big horror of Quilp and the lesser (though still a horror) horror of Grandfather, the sturdy Kit and his bouncy pony, the mighty small Marchioness, and of course the sweet sad Little Nell – and about a million more! Not to mention the many Cocktail Talk moments, as Dickens (I hope you know this) loved his pubs, tipples, and consumers of beverages cold and hot. Actually, I’ve had two Cocktail Talk posts from The Old Curiosity Shop already, so be sure to read Part I and Part II to start things off with the right flavor (not to mention, though I will, all the other Charles Dickens Cocktail Talks). And then come back, so you can reach this quote about the above-mentioned Dick Swiveller, one of my (many many) Dickens favs, and about “rosy wine” which sounds a bit like Pink Gin in practice!
“’Fred,’ said Mr. Swiveller, ‘remember the once popular melody of Begone dull care; fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship; and pass the rosy wine.’ Mr. Richard Swiveller’s apartments were in the neighbourhood of Drury Lane, and in addition to this convenience of situation had the advantage of being over a tobacconist’s shop, so that he was enabled to procure a refreshing sneeze at any time by merely stepping out upon the staircase, and was saved the trouble and expense of maintaining a snuff-box. It was in these apartments that Mr. Swiveller made use of the expressions above recorded for the consolation and encouragement of his desponding friend; and it may not be uninteresting or improper to remark that even these brief observations partook in a double sense of the figurative and poetical character of Mr. Swiveller’s mind, as the rosy wine was in fact represented by one glass of cold gin-and-water, which was replenished as occasion required from a bottle and jug upon the table, and was passed from one to another, in a scarcity of tumblers which, as Mr. Swiveller’s was a bachelor’s establishment, may be acknowledged without a blush.”
–Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop
July 14, 2020
For our final quote from Trollope’s The Bertrams (which, while not the finest Trollope tale available, is well worth a few days’ or weeks’ read) we have a little pale ale, about which we have a fine bit of wisdom from one of our main characters. I love it! And I am also fond of The Bertrams Part I and The Bertrams Part II Cocktail Talk quotes, so if you haven’t seen them, go back in time (via the helpful links) and catch up, before we bid adieu to our pal Tony Trollope on the ol’ Spiked Punch – at least for now!
“’And at last Mrs. Price got her porter, and Mrs. Cox got her pale ale. ‘I do like pale ale,’ said she; ‘I suppose it’s vulgar, but I can’t help that. What amuses me is, that so many ladies drink it who are quite ashamed to say they like it.’
‘They take it for their health’s sake,’ said Bertram.
‘Oh, yes: of course they do.’”
–Anthony Trollope, The Bertrams
April 3, 2018
For our third stop on the Dombey and Son
drinking tour (be sure to read Part I
and Part II
to catch up, and to learn a little more about why you should be reading Dombey and Son
right now, unless you have already, in which case you should be re-reading it! Heck, for that matter, catch the full roll call of Charles Dickens Cocktail Talks
, because there are many, due to the awesome-ness of Dickens, dontcha know), we hit the healthy benefits of sherry one more time. Heck, I want some sherry right now, even though I feel fine – as a preventative, of course!
Even Mrs. Pipchin, agitated by the occasion, rings her bell, and sends down word that she requests to have that little bit of sweet-bread that was left, warmed up for her supper, and sent to her on a tray with about a quarter of a tumbler-full of mulled sherry; for she feels poorly.
— Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son
August 29, 2017
I’m continuing mutating the Spiked Punch into a site dedicated to the Charles Dickens classic Our Mutual Friend (okay, that may be a small fiction, but it certainly sounds like a decent idea!), which started with Part I and Part II. If you haven’t read them, I suggest firmly-but-friendly that you do so right away, to get a little backstory about the story and to ensure you don’t miss our earlier quotes (actually, don’t miss the very first one, from years back). In this Cocktail Talk, the villainous (which also comical in a way) Wegg drops a phrase about drinking straight that I want to try and remember to utilize in the future.
Mr. Venus, reminded of the duties of hospitality, produced some rum. In answer to the inquiry, “Will you mix it, Mr. Wegg?” that gentleman pleasantly rejoined, “I think not, sir. On so auspicious an occasion, I prefer to take it in the form of a Gum-Tickler.”
Mr. Boffin, declining rum, being still elevated on his pedestal, was in a convenient position to be addressed. Wegg having eyed him with an impudent air at leisure, addressed him, therefore, while refreshing himself with his dram.
–Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
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
April 26, 2016
Our final Fredric Brown cocktail talk (in this run at least) comes from a story called “The Wench Is Dead,” which was later expanded into a novel. It’s about a genial drunk (who used to be high society), and murder, of course! And mishaps, and, as you’ll see below, Manhattans. Be sure to check out Part I and Part II to expand your Brown-ing. You’ll be happy you did.
‘Let’s drink our drink and then I’ve got a room around the corner. I registered double so it’ll be safe for us to go there and talk a while.’
The bartender had mixed her Manhattan and was pouring it. I ordered a refill on my whisky-high. Why not? It was going to be my last drink for a long while. The wagon from here on in, even after I got back to Chicago for at least a few weeks, until I was sure the stuff couldn’t get me, until I was sure I could do normal social drinking without letting it start me off.
–Fredric Brown, Miss Darkness