Two Fingers of Suspense

Americans don't like to let anything of cultural significance slip by us, whether it be a Broadway musical*, a movie star**, or a feature film*** without naming a cocktail in its honor. And why should our newest map guide be any different? To The Hardboiled Apple: The Casefile on Suspense Writing In and About New York City, we dedicate this Grade “A” Fancy original recipe.

Teetotals need not apply. Something sinister may be lurking around the corner so slip into the nearest saloon and ask the bartender for one of these bracers. Or make it at home with the recipe below.

The Hardboiled Apple Cocktail

1-1/2 oz. rye
1-1/2 oz Laird’s Old Apple Brandy
1/2 oz apple cider
Barspoon spiced apple syrup (stolen from your garnish jar)
Dash Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
Garnish: spiced apple ring (recipe below)
Build over ice cube in rocks glass garnished with a spiced apple ring pressed to the side of the glass.

Spiced Apple Rings for The Hardboiled Apple Cocktail

2 lbs. red-skinned apples
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1 piece Mexican cinnamon
1” piece ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
6 crushed allspice berries
A squirt of red food coloring

Combine sugar, water and spices and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Meanwhile, core apples (do not peel) and slice into 1/4 inch rings. Remove liquid mixture from heat, add apple rings and allow to stand 10 minutes. It is said this helps firm the apples. Return to heat and bring to a rolling boil. Simmer 30 minutes or until apples are the desired color. 
Allow the apple rings to cool in the syrup. Pack cooled apple rings loosely in hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Cover with boiling syrup.

Now that you are properly lubricated, you can cast your peepers on this guide mapping the mysteries of detective fiction born and bred in New York City.

* The Adonis

** The Mary Pickford

*** Blood and Sand


Hard-Boiled Apple


GRADE "A" FANCY RIPS THE LID OFF THE SENSATIONAL, LURID UNDERBELLY OF CRIME FICTION IN NEW YORK CITY! The Hardboiled Apple, our new map guide published by Herb Lester Associates snoops out 55 locations in the big town to tell the story.

Lurking around the corner, waiting to be uncovered: the places authors lived and worked, and the scenes of the crimes, from the dark beginnings of the genre to the gritty present. David Goodis’ poisoned streets and alleys, Richard Price’s combat zone Lower East Side, Chester Himes’ carnival-shooting-gallery version of Harlem. Inside info on a cast of characters as diverse as the city, ranging from the lowest brow to the highest: two-fisted gumshoes and femmes fatales, dogged detectives and supervillains. We've got the low-down on the genteel whodunitry of Van Dine; the Black Mask tough guys Hammett and Daly; the antisocial lone wolf from Spillane or Highsmith; the all-American organized crime family via Puzo or Condon.

Uncover the history of New York City suspense fiction from dime novels to pulp magazines to drugstore paperbacks and current best-sellers. Delivered in the high-class packaging you’ve come to expect from Herb Lester, with a handsome new large format map, plus a keen notebook to aid your sleuthing, just like the real gumshoes use.


Radio Holiday Hijinx Update

Now that Christmas has come and gone, let's send an extra large Santa-sized thank you to WFMU Good Guy and host of the Fool's Paradise program for another swinging on air office party. If you missed it, or feel like you must relive those two hours of radio magic, the archived show can be found here.

Now it can be told: this year's holiday cocktail is the Holy Moly. The revelers in Studio A seemed to like it. How's about we shake one up?

The Holy Moly

The goods:
1 cardamom pod
1-1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. Choya Umeshu Japanese plum wine (look for it in the mod cylindrical bottle)
1/2 oz. orange juice
1/4 oz. Crème de Cassis
Barspoon (1/2 tsp.) Yellow Chartreuse
1 or 2 dashes Angostura bitters
One drop Fee’s Old Fashion bitters (optional)
Garnish: Orange peel
The how-to:
  • Toast cardamom pod in a dry skillet for a few minutes. (Toasting optional but it does improve the flavor.)
  • Crush cardamom pod lightly and add to cocktail shaker.
  • Add all liquids and ice and shake well.
  • Strain into chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Hope everybody had a cool Yule. See you in the New Year! 


Making Spirits Bright

Grade "A" Fancy prepares to enter the exciting world of "Hip"

This Saturday, December 22, everyone's fave holiday tradition, the Radio Bartender, returns to the "Fool's Paradise" featuring Rex on the mighty WFMU! As always, Grade "A" Fancy's chief mixing officer Karen will unveil a new cocktail for the occasion, live in the studio, amid much radio hi-jinx. Expect the zaniest holiday-themed novelty records and the sounds of on-air gift giving with a cast of celebrity merry-makers.

Tune in Saturday from 1 to 3pm on the Fun 91! In the New York City area it's WFMU 91.1 fm Jersey City, and 90.1 in the Hudson Valley. You say you are stuck at the North Pole? No problem. You can listen in real time via the miracle of the internet.

Procrastinators note: you can still make this the Best Holiday Ever for your loved ones by giving the gift of Grade "A" Fancy cocktail guides. A copy of Hark! the Radio Bartender Brings or Code Name: Cocktail will brighten anybody's Christmas.


Santa's Hollow Leg

Stumped for that nonpareil gift this year?

These handsome volumes are the answer to your holiday shopping woes. Order for the bon vivant on your list who’s seen it all, the liquor lover with no stomach for cocktail twee-ness, the art maven, the mid-century-aholic, the film buff, your local action movie villain, or the connoisseur of small-press books. Buy one to go along with that fake i.d. for your kid brother, one for Dad’s cookbook collection, and one for Mom’s bar.

Order now – our gift to you is free first-class USA shipping

You want your cocktail strained, not your seasonal shopping. These booklets will be delivered to your door & leave you time to relax with a soothing snootful by the fire.

First, our newest model, Code Name: Cocktail. 40 sumptuous pages of cocktails, punches and potions as imbibed by secret agents of mid-century fiction, including 13 original recipes concocted in our secret labs. PLUS tips and tradecraft to weaponize your home bar.

Did you miss our symposium, The Spy Who Came In From The Pool, based on this booklet at the 2017 Tiki Oasis weekender in San Diego? Two tipples from it, The Cloak and Stagger Punch and The Ejector Seat, were demonstrated. All attendees survived, or so we are told.

Some spicy intel is revealed in the pages of Code Name: Cocktail. What’s James Bond’s freakiest drink? Where did Harry Palmer learn to mix properly? Which cocktails are best with egg salad? What’s Alec Leamas’ favorite color? (Just kidding – that last one is classified.) Click the Buy NOW button below.
Perhaps you prefer something entirely seasonal. Howzabout Hark! The Radio Bartender Brings? There are still a few copies of our holiday cocktail guide.

It’s that most wonderful time of the year — the hustle-bustle and anticipation as everyone prepares for a very special visitor. Yes, of course we mean The Bartender of the Airwaves, bringing a gleaming new holiday cocktail for all the parched listeners of Fool’s Paradise with Rex on radio station WFMU. Due to popular thirst, we’ve collected these original cocktail recipes in an eyeball-pleasing 40-page booklet. In addition, it tells the heart-warming tale of the Radio Bartender, and provides guidance and counsel to make your holiday cocktail hour merry and bright. To purchase Hark! The Radio Bartender Brings via PayPal, click on the Buy Now button below.

 •   •   •

The holidays will be upon us in a flash. Order today! US addresses use the button below. Or, contact us for worldwide shipping info or multiple purchase discounts.

On the drop-down menu you can choose to buy up to four copies at one time, but the shockingly sympathetic free US shipping never changes. Shipping multiple copies won't cost you one thin dime! This is a money saving offer that thrifty gift-givers will not want to miss. Pass the savings on to the art supply (liquor) store.

Grade “A” Fancy in collaboration with Liquorsnapper.com present ~


The Exciting, Undercover, Top-Secret,
Daggers Danger ‘n’ Daiquiris
Supersloshy Side of Mid-Century Spy Fiction

By Vicky Sweat & Karen McBurnie
with Art and Design by Jon Hammer


Seasonal libations straight from the airwaves of
the world’s premier bop, slop and shlock radio show

By Karen McBurnie & Jon Hammer