“Spade has no original…He is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been and in their cockier moments thought they approached. For your private detective does not—or did not ten years ago when he was my colleague—want to be an erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client.”
- Dashiell Hammett, introduction to the Maltese Falcon, 1934 edition.
Dashiell Hammett’s Samuel Spade is, many would say, the most important figure in the private eye genre. He made his debut in 1929 in the pages of Black Mask (in the serialized first part of The Maltese Falcon), and detective fiction has never been the same. He’s a “hard and shifty fellow,” a partner in the Archer and Spade Detective Agency of San Francisco. He doesn’t particularly like his partner, and he’s not above sleeping with the man’s wife. He’s a man’s man through and through.
Spade is known to have a penchant for good rum.
One of my favorite lines from the Maltese Falcon is when Sam Spade says, “Oh…I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.” James Hensley, manager of our favorite speakeasy, The Patterson House, has crafted a new cocktail based on this one single quote. Drop by any time and ask for…
2 oz. Corsair Spiced Rum
1/4 oz. Lyle’s Golden Syrup
7 drops lime bitters
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
In a mixing glass, stir the Lyle’s, rum, and lime bitters with ice. Strain over ice in a rocks glass that has been rinsed with Creme de Mezcal. Next add the dash of Peychaud’s to the top and zest some orange peel over the drink.
Clearly, the base spirit must be rum. Sam Spade loves his rum, even offers a shot to Polhouse and Dundy when they come by to interrogate him. The Lyles is an old-school product that’s off the beaten path, not unlike like Sam’s detective agency. The Peychaud’s Bitters are there to add complexity, and like Mr. Spade’s wit, they are dry. The lime bitters liven things up, because though Mr. Spade is quick of intellect, he is also a man of action. The Mezcal represents the mystery, the unexpected, the twist.
This tasty beverage is, in many ways, like Ms. O’Shaughnessy’s $200 retainer to Sam….”more than if you had been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it all right.”