“Don’t take that flask…don’t you know it’s bad luck to take an empty flask?!?!” — Daniel de Oliviera, Chicago bartender
I often aim to be an advocate for great bartenders, even when they’re not behind the bar. I’ve blogged about other instances of superstition & spirituality in drinking culture, but my Chicago homeboy hit me with a nugget I’d never heard of, during my recent jaunt to Tales of the Cocktail. The overproof man wasn’t lying…
…It was shortly after this that Jessold invited me, in his offhand manner, to collaborate on Little Musgrave, redoubling my enthusiasm for his career…
I had the urge to formalise our association (both business and personal) with some token of affection before his departure…There was no particular occasion to excuse such a display of affection, but I thought I could properly present it from both Sheperds. I knew just the shop.
At Regent’s Arcade, I selected a pewter flask to be engraved with Jessold’s initials. I gave my address, and the shopkeeper enquired if I would like it on my account. Unaware that I had one, I enquired what else had been placed on it. A monogrammed cigarette case (priced twelve shillings and sixpence, engraved with the same initials) was the only other item to my name. Miriam too had found her would-be lover worthy of a token…
This delightful coincidence proved once more that duplicity between Miriam (who had yet to remark on Jessold’s impending absence) and me was out of the question…I later showed her the pewter flask.
“Divine,” she said.
“It might make a set with the cigarette case,” I said. She left the room, returning with the item-on-account.
“Our taste is so similar,” she said. Flustered was not in Miriam’s vocabulary.
I kissed her hand.
It was proverbially bad luck to hand over an empty flask, so I topped it off, then filled the case with those filthy Player’s Navy Cut he liked. We handed the set over together at our farewell dinner.
Miriam did not mark Jessold’s departure with any untoward display of emotion.
— Excerpt from Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, by Wesley Stace