Bar Information: Pair your subsequent ebook with a Maine author-inspired cocktail
One of the best gifts I received in 2020 was Tim Federle’s book “Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist”. If you are already familiar with my love of puns, you will understand how delighted I was, having cocktails like “Love in the Time of Kahlua”, “Gin Eyre” and “Are You There God?” To discover. It’s me, Margarita. When I came across the Bloody Carrie, I had to see what other Maine writers I could come up with.
I already run a book club where I combine a cocktail with every book, and although they have always been thematically linked, I now try to give them fun names too. This month we read Kerri Arsenault’s “Mill Town: Settling With What Is Left”. The drink, essentially a margarita (for Mexico, Maine, the author’s hometown) made from rum (for neighboring Rumford where the mill is located) instead of tequila, is delicious, but I needed a name. Arsenault suggested Mill Swill. Her superior wordsmithing skills may have something to do with why she brought out a book and I didn’t. Well, that and the fact that she was willing to do over 10 years of research.
If you or your book club aren’t sure what to read or drink next, these Maine writer-inspired cocktails might help.
Starting with the classics, I’d do a Longfellow Iced Tea Fellow in honor of Maine’s most famous poet. EB White, who wrote much of his work on his farm (the inspiration for Charlotte’s Web) in Brooklin, got an EB White Russian (vodka, cream, and a coffee liqueur like Kahlua).
If you’re doing an EB White Russian, you can also make a Black Russo-ian (vodka and coffee liqueur) that accompanies one of Richard Russo’s many novels. Alternatively, sip a gin and tonic while yelling, “The sun never sets on the British Empire Falls!” in honor of his Pulitzer-winning novel, which was made into a miniseries with Paul Newman.
Speaking of gin, pour a little over an olive and you have Olive, In Gin, the perfect partner for Elizabeth Strout’s novel “Olive, Again”. If you’re feeling macabre, use your gin to make a corpse reviver (1 ounce gin, 1 ounce Lillet Blanc, 1 ounce lemon juice, 1 ounce orange liquor, and a pinch of absinthe) to enjoy with either of the many works by either former homicide detective Bruce Coffin or former Buddhist monk and boxer Jaed Coffin.
If bourbon is more your style, grab one of Jule Selbo’s books or plays and make a Belmont Jule (1.5 ounces bourbon, 2 ounces lemonade, and 1 ounce pomegranate juice) a reef on the Belmont Jewel, the official cocktail of the Belmont Stakes. If you’re a Monica Wood fanatic, get an Old Fashioned done with Papermaker’s Mark or Woodford Reserve.
Vodka enthusiasts can make an oak lily sip while reading from Lily King. The Oaks Lily is a sweeter version of a Cosmo and is popular in the Kentucky Derby. It contains vodka, cranberry juice, orange liqueur, simple syrup and lemon juice. Garnish with blackberries.
An even sweeter option is a mudslide (Bailey’s, vodka, and coffee liqueur), perfect for Susan Conley’s latest novel, Landslide.
If you’re more of a cocktail person, a Shirley Temple Stream can be enjoyed in conjunction with Bill Roorbach’s Temple Stream.
I don’t want to overlook some exciting early Maine books, so let’s start with Kate Russo (whom I was delighted to discover that she is a former bartender). The main character of her debut novel “Super Host” carries a bottle of amaretto with him, so an amaretto sour was the natural choice: bourbon, amaretto, simple syrup, lemon juice and maraschino cherries.
If you’re dying to read the memoirs of Vietnamese immigrant Phuc Tran, “Sigh, Away,” pour yourself good quality rye. When the glass is empty, put it down and say, “Rye away!”
Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who enjoys getting to know her new home in Portland, cocktail after cocktail.
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