In Owen Sheers’ chilling novel, I Saw a Man, Michael Turner tries to cope with one tragedy only to cause a second that eclipses the first. He turns to the art of fencing - something he’d done as a student - for the distraction it provides. In a fencing competition, a Black Card indicates a penalty so severe that the offender is immediately expelled. En garde. Drinks with Nick
1.5 oz Espresso
1 oz Teacher’s Scotch Whisky
.5 oz Pimm’s No. 1
.25 oz Simple Syrup
1 Strong Dash Angostura Bitters
Shake all with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
In Sara Novic’s harrowing and beautiful Girl at War, we witness the rupture of Yugoslavia through the eyes of 10-year-old Ana. To acknowledge the rich Croatian history she leaves behind when she flees, I updated a classic cocktail, the Flip, by introducing Rakija to its mix. Rakija (Slivovitz) is a plum brandy her friends will use to toast her return - you can use it to salute this wonderful debut.
Ana’s Silver Flip
2 oz. Slivovitz
1 oz. simple syrup
White of one egg
3 dashes plum bitters
Shake the first four ingredients without ice. Add ice and shake again to ensure the egg is emulsified. Strain into a chilled flip glass. Dust with nutmeg.
In Marian Palaia’s debut, The Given World, we glimpse a somber but beautiful roadmap through one woman’s heartbreak. After Riley’s brother goes MIA in Vietnam, she tries to numb herself with sex, drugs and drinking.
I can’t use mescaline (one of Riley’s drugs of choice) because the authorities frown on it, so I used mescal instead – that and a little black vodka to mimic the night sky, some mint-infused simple syrup to smooth any rough edges, and a cocktail onion in place of the moon.
2 oz. Blavod Black Vodka
1 oz. Mescal
.25 oz. Mint-infused Simple Syrup
Cocktail onion for garnish
Stir all with ice.
Strain into chilled glass.
Garnish with the moon.
Christian Kiefer'sThe Animals is a brawling and beautiful book. You'll travel from hardscrabble Battle Mountain, Nevada, to the non-neon side of the Biggest Little City in the World, and end up in a wildlife sanctuary in remote Idaho, where the King of Beasts is Majer, a bear blinded by age. This drink is for him and his Idaho forests.
1.5 oz. Plymouth Gin
.75 oz. absinthe
Aftelier Perfumes Fir Needle Chef's Essence® Spray
Stir gin and absinthe with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Top with cold soda water. Spritz once with the Fir.
M. O. Walsh’s knockout novel, My Sunshine Away, reads like a haunting bedtime story for adults. The mystery surrounding a long ago crime that rocked suburban Baton Rouge unspools as the pages turn. Whiskey and Peychaud’s bitters evoke the South in this cocktail that’s made for sipping.
Combine whiskey, bitters, and honey syrup - stir with ice. In a chilled glass, swirl the Jägermeister to coat the inside - discard the excess. Add whiskey mixture. Twist lemon peel over the drink. Garnish with Peychaud’s-dashed honeycomb.
Chris Scotton’s The Secret Wisdom of the Earth takes you to Kentucky where Kevin’s mother seeks refuge after tragedy. Sitting on the steps of his grandfather’s porch, Kevin listens to the talk of old men sipping sour mash whiskey. If Kevin could, though, he’d add a little heat to their glasses – Kevin has a small problem setting fires. So I did that for him.
2 oz. Michter’s Sour Mash Whiskey
.25 oz. Simple Syrup
3 Dashes Bittermen’s Hellfire Habanero Shrub Bitters Add all over one large piece of ice in an old-fashioned glass. Stir. No garnish.
Long story short – there’s never been an English translation from Greek of Nikos Kazantzakis' Zorba. The earlier edition was translated from a French translation of the Greek. Got that? To honor Simon & Schuster bringing Zorba to the English page with all the idiosyncrasies intended by Kazantzakis, we in turn bring you the Hot Zorba, perfect for cold December nights.
.5 oz dark rum
.5 oz ouzo
.5 oz lemon juice .5 oz
honey 3 - 5 oz tea
Mix all ingredients - except tea - in a warm mug. Top off with tea.
Garnish with cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
Frank Bascombe, from Richard Ford's prize winning trilogy (The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land), is back in a collection of four Ford novellas, Let Me Be Frank With You.
In the first tale, while viewing Hurricane Sandy’s destruction, Frank ruminates on the sonnet, Ozymandias. My Egyptian history needs brushing up, but I do know that the star of that poem, the pharaoh Ramesses II, enjoyed wine. So as a nod to the men working hard in Sandy’s wake, I decided to recast the Sangria.
3 oz. red wine
1 oz mezcal
.5 oz honey syrup
Stir all with ice. Strain into a rocks-filled glass. Top with soda and garnish with orange and cherry.
2 oz. Knappogue Castle 12-year-old Irish whiskey
1 oz. Warre's Otima 10-year-old tawny port
.25 oz. Grand Marnier
10 drops Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters
1 tsp. lemon juice
Stir all with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
It's cause for celebration when David Mitchell releases a new novel. Since September brings us The Bone Clocks, we bring you the Captain Marlow.
The Irish whiskey is a nod to the background of Mitchell's main character, Holly Sykes. Port, though, adds a bit of posh because Hugo Lamb - the dark to Holly's light - might think just the whiskey would be slumming. He'd be wrong, of course, but Hugo's wrong about a lot of things.
When I asked my wife, Karen, what color she’d paint a horse, she didn’t hesitate. “Red,” she said, “of course.” Perfect, I thought, because when Catherine, in Malcolm Brooks’ masterful Painted Horses, meets her first mare in Montana, she thinks she’s stumbled upon the ghost of a war pony, its stamping legs painted with bands of red and yellow. With that image in mind, I crafted my own Painted Horse. Like a mustang, it’s small, but packs a kick.