March 15, 2022

Cocktail Talk: Killer Take All, Part I

deadly-pick-up-killer-take-allJust a week ago I talked about the double book book I’d recently picked up, talked about in The Deadly Pick-up Cocktail Talk post, that is, and therein mentioned the second book of the one-book duo, Killer Take All, by James O. Causey. And you know what? Today we are Cocktail Talking from that very book. It’s a swell piece of pulp pleasure, too, hitting the same pace and at least near the style of longtime fav Day Keene (read more Day Keene Cocktail Talks while you’re here why dontacha). By that I mean, our hero/narrator (who happens to be a golfer! Of all pulpy things) gets into trouble, then more trouble, then trouble piles on another layer of troubles, and troubling on and on until you feel there is no way he can get outta the trouble hole. Plus: some mobsters and ex-mobsters, an ex-girlfriend who may be untrustworthy, a cop who may be the opposite, loads of other shady intriguing figures, and (if that wasn’t enough) an old master painting playing a big part. Plus booze! And bars! A dandy, dandy read.

Stephen reached into his jacket pocket and brought out a pint of bonded bourbon. “Open it, Tony? We could both stand some anti-freeze.”

I took a deep slug. It was good whiskey. Stephen kept his eyes on the compass as he reached for the pint and downed almost half of it.

“Hey, you’re driving, remember?”

He took another slug and grinned, showing even white teeth. “Breakfast, man.”

–James O. Causey, Killer Take All

March 8, 2022

Cocktail Talk: The Deadly Pick-Up

deadly-pick-up-killer-take-allI recently picked up (hahaha) a type of book I dig, and one you don’t see as much anymore (though maybe they’re making a small comeback? Here’s hoping): the double book book. The two-complete-novels-under-one-spine book, the a-cover-on-each-side book, the take-the-awesome-and-twice-it (in the best circumstances) book! I love the idea of having two books at once, so was stoked to get the Armchair Fiction (a publisher it seems I need to look out for) double book book that combines a pulsating pulp twosome: The Deadly Pick-up, by Milton K. Ozaki, and Killer Take All, by James O. Causey. Were these two noir-sters put together cause they both utilize that middle initial so well? Maybe? But I think it’s mainly cause both of these books hit that pulpy, noiry, sweet spot of fast pace, seemingly inescapable problems for our narrators, some swell and shady characters (and often trouble deciding which is which), some trouble, some dark nights, and some booze-y boozing. Today’s Cocktail Talk is from The Deadly Pick-up, which is about as straightforward a title as you could imagine: recent Chicago transplant Gordon Banner offers a ride to a blond beauty, who then is murdered in her apartment while salesman Mr. Banner is waiting in his car downstairs, leading to him being the prime suspect, gangsters, other ladies and gentlemen who help, hinder, and harass him, and stops at many bars, including the one below.

It was 8:30 when I entered the Flask Club and wormed my way past a long crowded bar where four white jacketed bartenders were performing feats of alcoholic interest. At the rear was a huge room littered with closely spaced tables and chairs. The walls looked as though a whirlwind had flung huge gusts of newspapers against it and plastered them there, permanently imbedding their headlines in the calcimine. A dark-haired red-mouthed girl in black slacks and tight white blouse swung toward me and lead the way to a tiny table against a wall. She leaned against my shoulder, giving me a whiff of her body odor and glimpse of the dep V between her breasts while she lit a stub of candle, which projected from a wax-dappled Ehrlenmeyer flask set between the salt and pepper shakers. That rite duly performed to her satisfaction, she straightened and asked, “What’ll ya have?”

“Something to eat,” I told her.

“Okay. I’ll get a menu. Drink?”

“You might bring me an Old Fashioned.”

“Sure thing.”

 

— Milton K. Ozaki, The Deadly Pick-up

 

March 4, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Up In Mabel’s Room

I feel pretty awful that I’m not 100% sure I have actually ever known a Mabel, and so have never actually been up in Mabel’s room, which seems a mysterious, wonderful, alluring place, one where rye flows like water in a waterfall of grapefruit juice and simple syrup, one where the foxtrot trots, and laughter reigns, where no-one frowns and no-one is divisive, and all drink (and eat – cheese, lots, in Mabel’s room, and pastries I’m guessing) and are merry. My kinda place. Now, I just need to know a Mabel.

up-mabels-room

Up In Mabel’s Room, from Dark Spirits

 

Cracked ice

1-1/2 ounces rye

3/4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice

3/4 ounces simple syrup

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Shake exceptionally well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Be Mabel.

 

A Note: I know, I know, it’s usually ice cubes and shaking. But cracked ice works here. Go figure!

 

February 11, 2022

What I’m Drinking: The Spicy WAG

You might guess, after looking at the title here, that this drink is named after a particularly feisty pup of some sort, or one who swears like a doggy sailor, and knowing how much (as you know me so well) I love dogs, it’d be a good guess! But, sadly, a wrong one. Really, I just fancied up a name (as I am fancy) for a whiskey and ginger-y combo I made recently (Whiskey And Ginger – WAG! Hilarious, right?). Not whiskey and ginger ale, which is a wonderful classic combo especially in spring and early summer, and not the Whisky Mac, which is a Scottish classic combo of whisky and ginger wine that I like to have when visiting the UK. Instead, this whiskey ginger mélange utilizes Portland Syrups Ginger Syrup, a bottle of which I was lucky enough to receive not many moons ago (along with a few more delicious Portland Syrups)!

This Ginger Syrup has a very fresh, strong ginger flavor, one accented by the addition of Japanese chilies, which gives a nice bit of heat mingling with the ginger spice on the tongue at the end of a sip. It’s not overly sweet, either, but well-balanced. It’s also brewed by hand in Oregon (as the name might have you guessing), which is just south of me, so neighbors really. I’m excited to try it just with soda as well as with classic ginger-y mixes like a Moscow Mule, but for the maiden voyage wanted to keep things simple, so just mixed it with Seattle Distilling Brockway Hill whiskey, a yummy whiskey made from Washington-grown rye, and one with an amiable-but-strong-in-personality rye spice flavor. This was, I am sad to admit, a small batch whiskey release, so might not be easy to find – sub in your fav rye, or bourbon, and I’ll bet you’ll still end up with a spiced boozy treat you’ll want to have twice!

 Spicey WAG

The Spicy WAG

 

Cracked ice (see Note 1)

2-1/2 ounces Seattle Distilling Brockway Hill whisky

3/4 ounce Portland Syrups Ginger Syrup (see Note 2)

Big ice cube

 

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whisky and syrup. Stir well.

 

2. Add a big ice cube to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the WAG over the ice cube and into the glass. Enjoy!

 

A Note: This is syrup in here, so I could see some shaking this. I just wasn’t feeling it. Really, you could even skip the ice while stirring if you aren’t sitting in front of a heater.

A Second Note: You could go down to 1/2 an ounce here, too, but I was feeling the ginger buzz and felt I’d better ride it!

February 7, 2022

Cocktail Talk: Brother Wing Commanders

secret-of-holm-peel-sax-rohmerI haven’t perused many pages written by Sax Rohmer, who was one of – if not the, at least for a moment or two – best-selling mystery/adventure/action writers of his early-to-mid last century timeframe. Like too many of his contemporaries, he was fairly awful or deplorable, or really, in how he depicted people not exactly like him (other races, other genders, pretty much anything he would have thought of as “other”), and it makes reading much of his work not something I want to delve into, when there are many other things to read! However, I did receive a copy of stories by him recently, called The Secret of Holm Peel, and Other Strange Stories, and felt I should give it a whirl, and can admit that in the main, not too bad a collection. More adventure than strange (though there’s a demonic presence or two), and covering the basis of last-century adventure stories: meaning, there’s a pirate story, a swashbuckling story (the difference between those two genres is there, my friends!), a haunted castle and a haunted cliff story, all that. And a WW II story, naturally, which is called “Brother Wing Commanders,” and which is really a bird story combined with a hospital story and a little romance! That’s where this Cocktail Talk is coming from, a quote which contains a whisky line I hope to remember to use in the future!

“Inquiry from Buckingham Palace yesterday – and the eats and drinks! Why, Charles will be fatter than Goering if he goes to it! Yes, thanks a lot, it would set me up . . . Please excuse me reminding you, but your whisky is too good to deserve drowning. That’s fine.” There was a breathless interval.

 

–Sax Rohmer, “Brother Wing Commanders”

February 1, 2022

Cocktail Talk: The Case of Oscar Brodski

blood-on-the-tracksOn a rainy days like today, and yesterday, and probably tomorrow, I start to think “wouldn’t it be nice if it was sunny and I was on a train riding through the English countryside, with curious and attractive small towns and verdant and buzzing fields and such passing by outside my window?” And then I go back to reading the excellent collection of Golden Age British train-fueled mystery short stories Blood on the Tracks, and start to think, “hmm, maybe I’m safer inside with the rain outside dampening murderous thoughts?” One of the British Library Crime Classics collections (a fine series edited by writer and editor Martin Edwards, and one which unearths many mystery and crime gems nearly lost to history, usually placing them alongside some better-known hits), Blood on the Tracks boasts 15 stories that all share a train connection, making it a top choice for railway enthusiasts as well as mystery hounds – and for those, like me, who fit both categories? It’s dreamy! Our particular Cocktail Talk here comes from a story by R. Austin Freeman, a writer from that late 1800s, early 1900s Golden Age of crime fiction, one I don’t know well, but look forward to reading more from (probably with the help of more British Library Crime Classics!). In it, there are diamonds, a nefarious deed, actual blood on the tracks, a doctor detective of note, and wonderful usage of the wonderful word, “jorum.”

 

“Have a biscuit?” said Hickler, as he placed a whisky-bottle on the table together with a couple of his best star-pattern tumblers and a siphon.

“Thanks, I think will,” said Brodski. “The railway journey and all this confounded tramping about, you know.”

“Yes,” agreed Silas. “Doesn’t do you good to start with an empty stomach. Hope you don’t mind oat-cakes; I see they’re the only biscuit I have.”

Brodski hastened to assure him that oat-cakes were his special and peculiar fancy; and in confirmation, having mixed himself a stiff jorum, he fell to upon the biscuits with evident gusto.

 

–R. Austin Freeman, “The Case of Oscar Brodski”

December 26, 2021

Cocktail Talk: The Philadelphia Story

philadelphia-storyIf you can, picture this: it is 86 years ago today (you have to use your imagination here, people). You are with the family, or friends, or just solo, and decide to go to a movie. What do you pick? Why The Philadelphia Story, of course. Romance, comedy, and the legendary trio of Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart? How could you go to anything else! And then, while watching you get to hear the below quote, which is an ideal Cocktail Talk. Of course, it being today and not 86 years ago, you can just stream up said movie. Go to!

 

Champagne’s funny stuff. I’m used to whiskey. Whiskey is a slap on the back, and Champagne’s a heavy mist before my eyes.

 

–Jimmy Stewart, The Philadelphia Story

December 21, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Some Slips Don’t Show, Part III

some-slips-don't-showAs we wind our way into the final Some Slips Don’t Show Cocktail Talk (by the way: love the book cover here!), we find ourselves back at a situation touched on briefly in the book’s Cocktail Talk Part I (don’t miss Part II, either), where the real star of the series, detective Donald Lam (don’t tell his partner Bertha Cool I said he was the star, though), is getting cuddlier with one of the murder suspects in this here tale. And, as happens in the books (written by Erle Stanley Gardner writing as A.A. Fair), this cuddling, or prelude to cuddling, happens over drinks. Doubles, even.

A waiter came over and she ordered a double Manhattan.

“Single for me,” I said.

“Bring him a double, she said, smiling at the waiter. “I don’t want to get ahead of him.”

The waiter nodded and withdrew.

We nibbled pretzels and did a little verbal sparring until the waiter came back with the Manhattans. They were both doubles.

 

–A.A. Fair, Some Slips Don’t Show

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