Lawrence Block knows many things. Many unsavory things. Things like low living, thuglife and despair. Things like sex. Things like murder.
And he knows hard drinking.
I’m currently in the heat of A Walk Among the Tombstones, another Hard Case Crime Block-buster. The last time we hung out it was with Borderline — the story of a professional gambler, a bored divorcee, a beautiful teenaged hitchhiker and sex performer, a redheaded lesbian and a madman. Yeah, you guessed it. There’s some heavy drinking going on too.
Consider Meg, the gal who recently divorced her limp-dick husband who’s after some excitement. After a night of wild, drunken sex, she reverts to the common cure for hangover– more booze.
She had awakened with a hangover, and breakfast had been in the form of an orange blossom, a glass of orange juice spiked with gin. He’d had the gin in a liquor cabinet in the living room and it had been no trouble finding it. The gin was Beefeater. There was also a fifth of Dewar’s, a fifth of Jack Daniel’s, a fifth of Old Overhold, and a quart of Smirnoff. They were, respectively, the best Scotch on the market, the best bourbon, the best rye, and the best vodka. She was beginning to understand something about Marty Granger. He did not bother with things that were second-rate. He liked the best.
It’s good that she goes straight for the Orange Blossom. The cocktail, like Lawrence Block, has been around a very long time. Long enough to have prominent places in both the Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, and the Savoy Cocktail Recipe book. The Waldorf-Astoria says the Orange Blossom No. 1 (neat) was likely created by some young bridegroom or other who wanted something novel to use at his final stag party. The sweet vermouth of this cocktail takes some of the acidity out of the drink, making it very nice.
3/4 ounce Gin
3/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth
3/4 ounce orange juice
Shake on ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.
This might best be enjoyed after a night of heavy reading. If you pick up a copy of Borderline, the book includes a couple of Block shorts — including his story, “Stag Party Girl”. If that doesn’t give you a hangover, nothing will.