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Tommy Orange’s There There begins with a blistering prologue & doesn’t let up. In its pages, 12 individuals show life from the perspective of urban Native Americans in Orange’s Oakland, CA, hometown. Some of his characters eschew alcohol for powerful reasons, so for them I’m offering a summer quencher served in a glass from a long-shuttered Oakland watering hole.

Red Feather’s Lemonade

1.5 cups zesty simple syrup*
1 cup lemon juice
3 cups sparkling water
12 large strawberries
Lemon peel for garnish
Purée strawberries. Add to simple syrup & lemon juice. Stir well. Add sparkling water.

Garnish individual glasses with peel.



*Zesty Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Zest from 1 lemon

Mix all over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Let sit 1 hour. Strain out lemon zest. Keeps for 5 days, refrigerated.

Mars Room Spritz

maycocktail/marsroomcoverRachel Kushner’s devastating novel, The Mars Room, introduces the reader to Romy Hall as she leaves jail to enter a lifetime of incarceration in a California Correctional Facility. But then her voice is joined by a chorus of others and their stories become deeper, darker. The drink here needed to be simple, with the Lancers making up its body but serving as an echo of past trauma. 

Mars Room Spritz

1 bottle Lancers Rosé
1 cup Honey Simple Syrup
1 cup Sliced Strawberries 
1 Sliced Lemon

Muddle a few strawberries and half the lemon. Mix the Lancers, syrup, and remaining fruit in a pitcher. Chill in refrigerator.  Add ice.  Pour into ice-filled glasses and top with Seltzer. 

Is Silence Safer

After the stunning success of The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman returns with an equally exquisite novel, The Italian Teacher. There’s plenty of drinking in these pages, so I had many directions open, but decided on starting with calvados since it’s crucial to an important scene near the novel’s end. I’m jealous that you get to read this work for the first time.

Is Silence Safer

1.5 oz. Calvados 
.5 oz. Coarse Red Wine
.75 oz. Lemon Juice
.75 oz. Simple Syrup
Apple Slices for Garnish 

Shake all with ice. Strain into chilled glass. Garnish with apple. 

Niru's Hot Chocolate

Uzodinma Iweala’s Speak No Evil, though slim, carries enormous emotional weight.  Told in two parts - by best friends, Niru and Meredith, graduating seniors with their lives stretching before them - the novel begins innocently as they share hot chocolate spiked by Meredith. Neither foresees the consequences of the cold night. Mix yourself a warm cup and prepare to finish this gorgeous & raw novel in one sitting.

6 oz Hot Chocolate*
2 oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch
Mint-infused whipped cream*
Mint sprig for garnish

Combine hot chocolate and scotch in a warmed vessel.  
Add whipped cream and garnish with mint.



Forugh Farrokzhad is the best poet you’ve never heard of.
Her story is beautifully told by Jasmin Darznik in Song of a Captive Bird.
Food and drink were an important part of Farrokzad’s (difficult) upbringing in Iran,
so I wanted to meld the two in tribute to her short, brilliant life.

Last Lullaby

1 oz. arak
.5 oz lemon juice 
.5 oz. water
1 sugar cube
3-5 basil leaves
2 pear slices
Sour cherries for garnish 

Muddle sugar, basil & pear with the water.
Strain. Add remaining ingredients and shake with ice.
Strain into chilled glass and garnish with cherries.


Tony’s Best Friend

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, is a wonderful, bittersweet farewell.  Inspiration for this drink comes from the piece titled Memorial, where our narrator wonders how he can be considered Tony’s best friend because he hardly knew him.  Tony, recently deceased, possibly Greek, defintiely a painter, is answering no more questions.  Mr. Johnson, with few words, again leaves much for us to consider.

Tony's Best Friend

2 oz Metaxa
1 Barspoon Ouzo 
1 Sugar Cube
Lemon Peel for Garnish

Saturate sugar cube with Ouzo at the bottom of a glass.
Muddle until sugar dissolves. Add Metaxa. Stir. Add ice, stir until chilled.
Twist lemon over the drink and drop peel into the glass.



Ivy Pochoda uses the stories of a disparate band of Southern California characters like they’re the frayed strands from a once elegantly violent tapestry - and reweaves them magnificently. Some of these lives are as squalid as the King Eddy Saloon  that you’ll visit here, but in Pochoda’s hands, squalid can also be beautiful.


1.5 oz gin
.75 oz Cointreau 
.75 oz sage simple-syrup
.5 oz lemon juice
Egg white
.5 oz red wine
Sage leaves


Combine all in a cocktail shaker - except wine and sage leaves - and dry-shake.  Add ice.  Shake thoroughly. Strain into glass. Then muddle sage with wine. Gently strain into drink. Use sage leaves to garnish. 


Rarely do artists create beauty out of devastation as exquisitely as C. Morgan Babst has done. Her debut, The Floating World, takes Hurricane Katrina and shows the ravages of that storm - both on a city and a family - with eloquence and precision. I took a drink that is a part of New Orleans like no other, the Hurricane, and present it anew, a complement to the feast Babst has prepared. 


1  oz. light rum 
1 oz. dark rum
1 oz. whiskey
2 oz. passion fruit juice
1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Shake all with ice - excluding the bitters. Strain into a Hurricane glass filled with crushed ice. Dash the bitters on top. Garnish with fruit or flower.

The Bride Stripped Bare

september 2017 cocktailAugustus Rose dazzles in his debut, The Readymade Thief, and we try to dazzle him right back by offering his drink in a shot glass created in the 1930’s - not long after Marcel Duchamp finished one of his most famous works, the original Bride Stripped Bare.  Mr. Rose takes Duchamp and art history, adds secret societies, proper thieving techniques, and a wonderfully realized character (17-year-old Lee Cuddy) and ties them into a gloriously intricate knot. 

The Bride Stripped Bare

5 oz white whiskey
2.5 oz rum
1 oz Cointreau
8 dashes chocolate bitters
Crushed ice

Combine all and stir with ice.  
Pour over crushed ice in 6 shot glasses. 

Richmond Float

The Marriage Pact is deliciously creepy so you’re almost immediately worried for Alice and Jake.  Newly married, happy, successful – but then there’s the Pact.  They’re invited to join a jet-setting community of interesting souls who all share one thing:  they want their marriages to be successful.  What’s the harm in that? Just wait.  And while you wait, to combat summer’s heat, why not take a scoop out of a Richmond Float?


Richmond Float

2 oz. Green Spot Irish Whiskey
Root beer
Boozy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream*
Bourbon Maple Syrup

Drizzle maple syrup inside glass.  Add two scoops of ice cream and the whiskey.
Fill glass with root beer.  Drizzle more maple syrup on top.  

Boozy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, split
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 egg yolks
Pinch fine sea salt
3 Tbsp Green Spot Irish Whiskey

Set aside one cup of the cream in a metal bowl.  Place the bowl in a container filled with ice water.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining cream, the milk, the vanilla bean, the sugar, and the salt.  Heat on medium until the sugar is incorporated and it just begins to boil.
Remove from heat.  Let sit, covered, for one hour.
Finely strain this mixture into the chilled cup of cream.
Add the whiskey and refrigerate for three hours.
Process in your ice cream maker.