January 18, 2022
You know (cause you know things) I love Dickens, and have many Charles Dickens Cocktail Talks on this very blog thingy, and cause of that (the love), I tend to re-read his books on the regular, and one of my favs is one not quite as well know, Dombey and Son. To get all the particulars of why it’s a fav, to read loads of cocktail and spirits (and dog!) quotes from the book, well, let me point you to the Dombey and Son Cocktail Talks Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV, instead of prattling on again here. Instead, I’ll just prattle that I’ve recently re-read the book once again (and I will again, I’m sure!), and had to have at least one more Cocktail Talk. So, here it is, featuring Cap’n Cuttle himself, along with his bestie Sol and said Sol’s niece Walter.
‘Ah!’ he said, with a sigh, ‘it’s a fine thing to understand ’em. And yet it’s a fine thing not to understand ’em. I hardly know which is best. It’s so comfortable to sit here and feel that you might be weighed, measured, magnified, electrified, polarized, played the very devil with: and never know how.’
Nothing short of the wonderful Madeira, combined with the occasion (which rendered it desirable to improve and expand Walter’s mind), could have ever loosened his tongue to the extent of giving utterance to this prodigious oration. He seemed quite amazed himself at the manner in which it opened up to view the sources of the taciturn delight he had had in eating Sunday dinners in that parlour for ten years. Becoming a sadder and a wiser man, he mused and held his peace.
‘Come!’ cried the subject of this admiration, returning. ‘Before you have your glass of grog, Ned, we must finish the bottle.’
‘Stand by!’ said Ned, filling his glass. ‘Give the boy some more.’
‘No more, thank’e, Uncle!’
‘Yes, yes,’ said Sol, ‘a little more. We’ll finish the bottle, to the House, Ned – Walter’s House. Why it may be his House one of these days, in part. Who knows? Sir Richard Whittington married his master’s daughter.’
–Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son
November 9, 2021
Well, what I can I say about the Henry Kane hard-boiled pocket-sized slurper Martinis and Murder which hasn’t been said in the Martinis and Murder Cocktail Talks Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV? Well, nothing really (and, really, the cover says it all!), so let’s just get to the below quote – you can catch up on the rest by reviewing the past posts while you sip something nice and potent.
We danced all through it, comfortably and close. We drank brandy from big Napoleon glasses. The music got hot. The place filled up, got warm and noisy.
“Peter,” she said, inhaling smoke through a long holder with a finger loop, “I’m beginning not to like it here. Can’t we go somewhere else where it is quieter?”
“Do you like Sibelius?”
“I adore Sibelius.”
“I have Sibelius in quantities on wax discs and I have a lovely fireplace and I have oil paintings that cost me much, and I have a book of pornographic studies dating back to the fifteenth century. No etchings. But I have Pernod.”
“Sibelius and Pernod. You are a wicked man”
–Henry Kane, Martinis and Murder
March 16, 2021
I have a tear in my eye, as while I could probably have a fair more Cocktail Talks from the Charlie Dickens collection of essays The Uncommercial Traveller, for now (but perhaps not forever), this will our last one. If you’ve missed any of the previous four, then be sure to read The Uncommercial Traveller Cocktail Talks Part 1, Part II, Part III, and Part IV, and while you’re in the reading mood, check out all the Dickens Cocktail Talks. Don’t read so much that your eyes tire, however, as you won’t want to miss the below quote. From one of the laugh-out-loud-ier pieces in the collection (and there are many funny scenes throughout, so that’s saying something), called “A Little Dinner in an Hour,” the below quote is just a small part of a regrettable dining experience Dickens has with his pal Bullfinch, when they are traveling for some business and decide to book a meal at a local spot that once was rumored to be worthy. But now leaves much to be desired! Ah, I wish I could have been there to watch it all unfold (if not to actually partake in it). A fine end to our Cocktail Talk tour through the book. Sherry, please!
‘It’s quite impossible to do it, gentlemen,’ murmured the waiter; ‘and the kitchen is so far off.’
‘Well, you don’t keep the house; it’s not your fault, we suppose. Bring some sherry.’
‘Waiter!’ from Mr. Indignation Cocker, with a new and burning sense of injury upon him.
The waiter, arrested on his way to our sherry, stopped short, and came back to see what was wrong now.
‘Will you look here? This is worse than before. Do you understand? Here’s yesterday’s sherry, one and eightpence, and here we are again two shillings. And what the devil does ninepence mean?’
This new portent utterly confounded the waiter. He wrung his napkin, and mutely appealed to the ceiling.
‘Waiter, fetch that sherry,’ says Bullfinch, in open wrath and revolt.
‘I want to know,’ persisted Mr. Indignation Cocker, ‘the meaning of ninepence. I want to know the meaning of sherry one and eightpence yesterday, and of here we are again two shillings. Send somebody.’
The distracted waiter got out of the room on pretext of sending somebody, and by that means got our wine. But the instant he appeared with our decanter, Mr. Indignation Cocker descended on him again.
— Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveller
August 4, 2020
Our last (for now – the next time I read the book, and fates-willing there will be a next time, there may well be more) Cocktail Talk from The Old Curiosity Shop is also the longest, and it’s very long as far as Cocktail Talks go. But I couldn’t cut a word, as it highlights so well hot rum, the demon (though a man) Quilp, and his toady and lawyer Sampson Brass. Do heat it up, but don’t let said heating keep you from earlier The Old Curiosity Shop Cocktails Talk, including Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV, or from other past Charles Dickens Cocktail Talks.
‘No?’ said Quilp, heating some rum in a little saucepan, and watching it to prevent its boiling over. ‘Why not?’
‘Why, sir,’ returned Brass, ‘he — dear me, Mr. Quilp, sir — ‘
‘What’s the matter?’ said the dwarf, stopping his hand in the act of carrying the saucepan to his mouth.
‘You have forgotten the water, sir,’ said Brass. ‘And — excuse me, sir — but it’s burning hot.’
Deigning no other than a practical answer to this remonstrance, Mr. Quilp raised the hot saucepan to his lips, and deliberately drank off all the spirit it contained, which might have been in quantity about half a pint, and had been but a moment before, when he took it off the fire, bubbling and hissing fiercely. Having swallowed this gentle stimulant, and shaken his fist at the admiral, he bade Mr. Brass proceed.
‘But first,’ said Quilp, with his accustomed grin, ‘have a drop yourself — a nice drop — a good, warm, fiery drop.’
‘Why, sir,’ replied Brass, ‘if there was such a thing as a mouthful of water that could be got without trouble — ‘
‘There’s no such thing to be had here,’ cried the dwarf. ‘Water for lawyers! Melted lead and brimstone, you mean, nice hot blistering pitch and tar — that’s the thing for them — eh, Brass, eh?’
‘Ha ha ha!’ laughed Mr. Brass. ‘Oh very biting! and yet it’s like being tickled — there’s a pleasure in it too, sir!’
‘Drink that,’ said the dwarf, who had by this time heated some more.
‘Toss it off, don’t leave any heeltap, scorch your throat and be happy!’
The wretched Sampson took a few short sips of the liquor, which immediately distilled itself into burning tears, and in that form came rolling down his cheeks into the pipkin again, turning the colour of his face and eyelids to a deep red, and giving rise to a violent fit of coughing, in the midst of which he was still heard to declare, with the constancy of a martyr, that it was ‘beautiful indeed!’
–Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop