February 13, 2018
I love the Stark House
Noir Classics series – thanks Stark House! They take some legendary noir/crime/mystery/all-the-good-stuff writers, some looked over, some not, pick out some of their (often lesser-available) books, and often package two books in one volume. Which is amazing! Recently, I became the proud possessor of another in the collection, a book combining two hits from Charles Williams – Nothing In Her Way and River Girl
. That’s some combo!
I’ve Cocktail Talked Charles Williams before – a fair amount, go check them out – and am always happy to find a yarn of his I haven’t read (thanks again Stark House!), which is the case here times two. He’s known for his sea-set books best, perhaps, but also for his unflinching look into his characters, who all carry flaws, his usually-right-on plotting, and a couple movie adaptations, including ocean-bound Dead Calm. Neither of the books in this two-books-in-one powerhouse takes place aboard a boat on the ocean like that one (though as you’d expect from the title, River Girl includes a river), but both are worth diving in to. I liked Nothing In Her Way a bit better of the two, because it’s a grifters story, and, well, I like reading about the cons and the cons who try to con. Also, it has a number of Cocktail-Talk-able quotes, so we’re gonna feature two here, starting with the rum and accidental-glass-breaking (or is it?) number below:
It was one of those dim places, with a black mirror behind the bar, and while it was doing a good business, I hadn’t known it was that crowded. I’d just put my drink down and was reaching for a cigarette when I felt my elbow bump gently against something, and then I heard the glass break as it went over the bar. I looked down at the spreading Daiquiri, and then at him. It was odd. There’d been plenty of room there a minute ago.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “It didn’t spill on you, did it?”
“No. It’s all right.” He smiled. “No harm done.”
“Here,” I said. “Let me get you another one.” I caught the bartender’s eyes and gestured.
“No,” he protested. “I wish you wouldn’t. It was just an accident. Happen to anybody.”
“Not at all,” I said. “I knocked it over. I’ll get you another one.” The barman came up. “Give this gentleman another Daiquiri. And charge me with a glass.”
–Charles Williams, Nothing In Her Way
February 6, 2018
Hello rummies! I recently was lucky enough to write about top-rate tiki bars in Seattle and Tacoma – at least some of them – for the grass-skirt-shaking Seattle magazine. The tiki movement is back in full swing up here (and, really, most spots), and it was sweet to be able to sip and sip some more island style drinks. But hey, don’t listen to me blather on – go check out the tiki talking right now.
February 2, 2018
I’m what you might call a creamtooth. What’s that, you ask? Well, you’ve heard of a sweettooth naturally, and a creamtooth is like that, but someone who’s pretty fond of cream things – like drinks with cream, or parfaits made with cream, or cream scones. But especially drinks made with cream things. I know, I know, creamy drinks are sort-of frownie with some of the toughies that make up the modern cocktail scene. But the mighty Alexander is one of my all-time favs, and well, that kicked it off. Which leads to this drink right here, the Shipboard Moon, made with a new cream liqueur that showed up at the house recently (I know, a bit lucky is me), specifically SomruS Alphonso mango cream liqueur.
That’s right – mango cream liqueur. If anyone was going to pull off a good mango cream liqueur, it’d be SomruS, whose flagship cream liqueur blends five Indian spices and nuts to give it a memorable flavor – well, that and the pure milk and run base. For the mango extension, they were inspired by the traditional Mango Lassi, also from India. To get to a mango flavor that made folks smile, they use the Alphonso mango, the king of mango, as it’s called. End result? A creamy treat that has a natural, smooth, mango flavor, much different from the normal chemically-mango’d booze bottles. Served chilled, it’s a treat all on its own.
But also one that pairs perfectly with other boozes in cocktails, especially those (as you might expect) with a bit of a tropical bent. At least I felt that way when picking a few other ingredients to play with. After a little experimenting, I went with Cruzan’s nice and dry aged light rum, which has some vanilla notes that go well with the cream, and the amazing Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum from Plantation. If you haven’t had the latter, you’re in for a treat, as it has a plentiful pineapple aroma and strong-but-tropical flavor that’ll have you dreaming of beaches. Altogether, this trio combines into a drink that’s creamy, sure, but also with backbone and layers of flavor. I topped with a sprinkle of cocoa powder, because, well, it seemed right, and because Valentine’s Day is around the corner.
1-1/2 ounces SomruS Alphonso mango cream liqueur
1-1/2 ounces Cruzan aged light rum
1 ounce Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum
Pinch of cocoa powder
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full of ice cubes. Add everything but the cocoa powder. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dust the top with the cocoa powder.
January 9, 2018
Decided on thinking it through that I needed one more quote from Charles Willeford’s one-time underground classic (still classic, just not really “underground” as you can pick it up easily enough, and you should), Pick-Up
. Be sure to read the Pick-Up, Part I Cocktail Talk
, and then come back – if you already haven’t read it, that is – and catch the below quote, about a drink called The Dolphin Special. Which I’ve never seen on a menu, but which sounds pretty neat, and boozy.
“Just bring us two of the Dolphin Specials,” I told him
He nodded solemnly and left for the bar. The Special is a good drink; it contains five varieties of rum, mint, plenty of snow-ice, and it’s decorated with orange slices, pineapple slices and cherries with a sprinkling of sugar cane gratings floating on top. I needed at least two of them. I have to build up my nerve.
–Charles Willeford, Pick-Up
December 12, 2017
I recently re-read The Three Clerks
by the awesome Anthony Trollope – one of his earlier books, and one at the time that he himself called “the best novel I have ever written.” It was his sixth novel, out of a whole lot of novels, and weaves together the story of, as you might expect from the title, three clerks working in government offices in London, with varying degrees of success. Another thing you might expect, after reading that briefest of descriptions, is that these young gentlemen probably enjoy a sip of the tipsy now and again – being young and out on the town. Which is why there are a lot of good cocktail talking in here, enough that I’ve already had one Cocktail Talk quote from The Three Clerks
on the Spiked Punch. But with the re-reading, I realized just how many there are! So, a few more are demanded, I say, in honor of Trollope. Starting with this gem that contains multiple booze-y treats, as an old sailor-y uncle of a few other main characters looks for a drink.
He had dined in town, and by the time that his chamber had been stripped of its appendages, he was nearly ready for bed. Before he did so, he was asked to take a glass of sherry.
‘Ah! sherry,’ said he, taking up the bottle and putting it down again. ‘Sherry, ah! yes; very good wine, I am sure. You haven’t a drop of rum in the house, have you?’
Mrs. Woodward declared with sorrow that she had not.
‘Or Hollands?’ said Uncle Bat. But the ladies of Surbiton Cottage were unsupplied also with Hollands.
‘Gin?’ suggested the captain, almost in despair.
Mrs. Woodward had no gin, but she could send out and get it; and the first evening of Captain Cuttwater’s visit saw Mrs. Woodward’s own parlour-maid standing at the bar of the Green Dragon, while two gills of spirits were being measured out for her.
— Anthony Trollope, The Three Clerks
August 25, 2017
Just two short weeks ago (which can seem a lifetime during the savorable days of late summer) I had a drink here on the Spike Punch called the SPF – Silver Port Fizz. It featured Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny Porto, in what may have been an odd move for some, port not being a sunshine-y drink companion for many. But this Sandeman Tawny! It’s so fruity, and so full of flavor that it begs (not literally, as wine, spirits, and liqueurs shouldn’t really be talking to you) to be used in summer drinks, fruit being such a key element of the season’s liquid fare.
It’s so worthy that I couldn’t help myself dreaming up other drinks utilizing Sandeman Tawny Porto 10 to be had when the Mercury has risen and ol’ sol is beating down. And that leads us to Summer’s Charm and Courtesy. Less obviously a summer drink then our last refreshing port number, this drink bring out summer through a wave of fruit notes, all subtle separately but coming together in a rapturous (well, drinks can be rapturous, too, right?) layered lush sip after sip. It starts with the Sandeman, which delivers fruit and jam and a hint of nutty and oak, then moves into Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum (a nice note also between all the recent Dickens’ posts), which is a dream, Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao, Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters, and a little lime. Then, as the last act of courtesy (and in my mind, one can’t be too courteous), a little fresh mint.
It’s just so darn fruity! And so darn good! Darn, give this a try before another sunrise and sunset pass along past us. You’ll be happy, I’ll be happy, the sun will be happy, and all will be well.
Summer’s Charm and Courtesy
1-1/2 ounces Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny Porto
1/2 ounce Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
2 dashes Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything by the mint. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the mint. Enjoy.
August 15, 2017
In the past (relatively speaking), I had a Cocktail Talk from Our Mutual Friend, by your-pal-and-mine Mr. Charles Dickens (really, check out all the Charles Dickens Cocktail Talk posts, and revel in my love of his work). It was a post focused on the pub in the book, and as usual with Dickens – who loved a good pub – a fantastic bit of bar description. Now, in the present (relatively speaking, as it slips away and shows up again as I type), I’ve just finished re-reading (third time? Fourth? They’ll be more) Our Mutual Friend, I realized it was mad to not have more, because there are so many good Cocktail Talk-style quotes in this book about dust (you’ll need to read the book to understand that), wealth, society (still incredible relevant on those points as a reflection of today’s society), jealousy, violence (those too), love, and trust. More, too, really. It was the last finished novel for the 1800s Chuck D, and if not my favorite (I suppose, if forced to pick, it might be Bleak House, but that’s impossibly hard to pin down), right up there. Heck, there are so many good quotes in it, I might just turn this blog into an Our Mutual Friend site, starting with this rum note:
“Bring me round to the Bower,” said Silas, when the bargain was closed, “next Saturday evening, and if a sociable glass of old Jamaikey warm should meet your views, I am not the man to begrudge it.”
–Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
August 11, 2017
You know what? Having this hot-weather, shipboard, beachy, rummy, ginger-y cool-down-er back in action pretty much everywhere is a swell situation for us all to be within. Going back to the post WWI years, the dark (rum) and stormy (ginger beer) dance-of-deliciousness (yep, I used that phrase) has always delivered in an easy-going manner, so it’s odd that it fell a bit off bar menus and the common tongue (so to speak) for a while. Could be the lack of good ginger beer (now, we have oodles), or the lack of adventuresome natures in some of our ancestors, or a fear of names connected by “and.” Maybe all of the above? All I know is that I don’t care! It’s hot outside, and pouring one of these makes it so much cooler.
The Dark and Stormy
2 ounces dark rum
Chilled ginger beer (lots of options but I think Rachel’s is dandy)
Lime wedge for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the rum.
2. Fill the glass with ginger beer, smoothly and regularly.
3. Squeeze the lime wedge over the drink, and then drop it like it’s hot. Stir, but cautiously – no need to rock the boat too much at this point.