HAPPY TIMES WERE THERE AGAIN
A couple of my readers have told me that alcoholic beverages provide a pleasant sub-theme in my recent novel, No Man’s Land about the attempted assassination of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Oh well, you can take the Irishman out of Ireland, but you can’t take Ireland … you know the rest.
In the first chapter, set in Los Angeles in January 1933, Frank Kelly heads to his regular speakeasy after he is called to the murder scene of a German émigré movie actress. Located in the basement of the Natick Hotel at Main and First the speakeasy’s barman, Willie, “had his usual gin waiting for him.”
In Berlin, Kelly finds himself in Die Fliege, a dive bar, and overindulges in the house Schnapps “from a small barrel stamped with the name Berolina Doppelkorn.”
Later, when he is escaping his Gestapo tail, Kelly takes refuge in The Lippenstift bar “beneath a blinking neon sign, a martini glass imprinted with vibrant red lips.” And yes, downs a house martini with a twist of lemon.
And then there is Kelly’s parting drink with the Danish spy Steffi Tappert. She finds a half empty bottle of Aalborg Akvavit in the safe house, as they wait for the Gestapo. An amber liquor spiced with caraway or dill, it’s a drink for special occasions. Escaping the Gestapo probably qualifies.
When Frank Kelly arrives at Union Station in DC on Friday Night, April 7, 1933, he finds a city celebrating “Brew Year’s Eve, the repeal of Prohibition,” the first full day of legal alcohol consumption since January 1920.
And within days, he also unravels the plot to assassinate FDR, but that’s enough for this now. I’m going to leave my fruitless search for Gilka’s Kaiser Kümmel during a recent trip to Berlin for my next blog. AND take a break in my nearest tavern to sup a legal draft of local IPA.