Steinbeck and Charley closed each of their days on the road with some whiskey in a coffee. Here’s an example of that tradition in Steinbeck’s inimitable voice:
The climate changed quickly to cold and the trees burst into color, the reds and yellows you can’t believe. It isn’t only color but a glowing, as though the leaves gobbled the light of the autumn sun and then released it slowly. There’s a quality of fire in these colors. I got high in the mountains before dusk. A sign beside a stream offered fresh eggs for sale, and I drove up a farm road and bought some eggs and asked permission to camp beside the stream and offered to pay.
The farmer was a spare man, with what we think of as a Yankee face and the flat vowels we consider Yankee pronunciation.
“No need to pay,” he said. “The land’s not working. But I would like to look at that rig you’ve got there.”
I said, “Let me find a level place and put it in order, and then come down for a cup of coffee – or something.”
The coffee was barely ready when Charley let out his lion roar. I can’t say how comforting it is to be told that someone is approaching in the dark. And if the approacher happened to have evil in his heart, that great roar would give him pause if he did not know Charley’s basically pacific and diplomatic nature.
The farm owner knocked on the door and I invited him in.
“You’ve got it nice in here,” he said. “Yes, sir, you’ve got it nice.”
He slipped in the seat beside the table. This table can be lowered at night and the cushions can be converted to make a double bed. “Nice,” he said again.
I poured him a cup of coffee. It seems to me that coffee smells even better when the frost is in. “A little something on the side?” I asked. “Something to give it authority?”
“No – this is fine. This is nice.”
“Not a touch of applejack? I’m tired from driving. I’d like a spot myself.”
He looked at me with the contained amusement that is considered taciturnity by non-Yankees. “Would you have one if I didn’t?”
“No, I guess not.”
“I wouldn’t want to rob you then – just a spoonful.”
So I poured each of us a good dollop of twenty-one-year-old applejack and slipped in on my side of the table. Charley moved over to make room and put his chin down on my feet.
John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley, p.26-28