Saturday, December 22, 2018

Bodies From The Library with a Bronx

This is a collection of previously lost stories by big names in golden age detective fiction, selected and introduced by Tony Medawar. I bought it at the Bodies From the Library classic crime conference at the British Library in the summer. I'd normally wait for a book to come out in paperback - hardbacks take up more space than I like in my small flat, but it had a Georgette Heyer story and looked like fun.

I love the idea of lost stories - they're the sort that appeared in often quite obscure magazines (some had never been printed before) and were once bread and butter for successful writer in a way they just aren't any more, so potentially there are a lot of them out there. Some will be better than others - the Heyer in this one isn't her best work by a long way, but it was fun to read as a fan.

Shamefully I never got much further than the Heyer story, so this is another book I'm looking forward to getting stuck into when things calm down a bit (two more days of crazy left at work, and frankly my brain is fried when it comes to anything that involves any kind of concentration). There are some big names here (Agatha Christie, Cyril Hare, Freeman Wills Croft, and A.A. Milne amongst them.

It's just the thing for fans of golden age crime, not least for it's curiosity value, and for people like me because I love a short story collection. I also think they're the perfect Christmas present because however busy the day is chances are you'll get the chance to read at least a couple.

I've chosen a Bronx cocktail to go with it because Georgette Heyer has one of her characters order one at her club in 'Footsteps in the Dark' and because it uses 2 kinds of vermouth, which works well with my current obsession. It also gives me a chance to talk about Martinis which I like to do, so...

A Bronx is basically a perfect, or medium, Martini with added orange juice. Martinis have become progressively drier over the years, something that I consider to be more or less macho nonsense - I see no reason not to drink more or less neat gin if that's what you like, but it's not what most people really like.

The recipe for a dry martini in the Savoy Cocktail Book is 2/3rds gin, 1/3rd French vermouth which I think is about right - I've seen recipes that have as little as 1/10th vermouth. The medium Martini is 1/2 gin, 1/4 French vermouth (dry), 1/4 Italian (sweet, and in my case also rosso). If very dry drinks aren't your thing it's an excellent place to start, and much as I love gin, I also like be the range of flavours the vermouths bring to this drink. To make it a Bronx add the juice of quarter of an orange, shake it up over ice, and strain into a glass.

The addition of orange juice makes it feel like a lighter drink, without losing the sense that you're  drinking a hefty amount of alcohol (which it's not safe to forget). Still, it sits better on an empty stomach as a pre dinner drink than a lot of other things I've tried (I like the idea of these for New Year's Day when you're still in a holiday mood, but making a nod towards better intentions).

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