Thinking of getting wacky on the weekend? Eager to make the rounds at your favourite cocktail bar? Planning on taking a book with you? Then allow us to recommend the perfect literary and cocktail pairing.
The crew at Golem Quarterly Review would like to offer up a few different cocktails as offered in our 'Eat and Read Menu', where cuisine, cocktails, and literary reads are a match made in heaven. The menu first debuted in the Spring issue and today we re-visit two cocktails and literary reads from there, plus a third, new cocktail with a modern-day love tale. So, pull out your zester, pop open that liquor cabinet, and let's get to making cocktails.
The Unordinary Wine
Over the course of the last few days, we've been nestled in our couches with a copy of Sally Rooney's Normal People (2020) and a heart-warming mulled wine. The story follows two Irish country bumpkins from different class backgrounds as they graduate from adolescence and attempt to manoeuvre themselves through adulthood. Told in a series of chapters that take place over weeks and months, the characters are drawn together every time, meeting in a different period of their lives. Always, there's a moment of intimacy and revelation. And baggage to deal with. Alas, that's the consequence of young love in the modern world. There's also a delightful trip to the Italian countryside. Rooney's novel is intimate, sensitive. It'll have you grabbing the corkscrew and opening a bottle before the pages are through.
The Unordinary Wine requires the following ingredients, which we advise you to not skimp on any of them:
- 2 bottles of Italian red
- Peel of lemon, lime, and orange
- The juice of half a lemon, half a lime, and half an orange
- 6 cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- Grated nutmeg
- 1 vanilla pod
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 star anise
- A copy of Normal People
The method behind this heart-warming drink is technical at first, and only the first time. Take a peel from the lemon, lime, and orange and set it aside. Add the juice from these fruits, together with the spices, and, with the castor sugar, throw it in a large pot. Watch as the sugar dissolves into the citrus and spice, and realise how delicious this winter cocktail is going to taste. Before you burn the sugar, pour a decent serving of wine until it covers the ingredients in the pot. When this comes to a rolling boil, pour the rest of the bottled wine and sit back like campers around a fire, allowing the lot to coalesce.
Once it's boiled, toss in the star anise and get your copy of Normal People ready because the magic of this cocktail is not to get inebriated (most of the alcohol had been boiled out) but to soothe a heart that's about to be broken.
If you happen to come across a June 1922 issue of The Smart Set, you'll see the first appearance of F. Scott Fitzgerald's “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”. Fitzgerald's short story focuses on an uber-wealthy family who made their fortune from diamonds, and a young teenager invited to stay with the family over the summer. Their house, as it turns out, also happens to be plopped on top of a diamond bigger than—you guessed it—The Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
We imagine the ruthless owner of the diamond mine and conniving head of the family, Braddock Tarleton Washington (who is said to be a relation of George Washington), would be nursing a drink or two a night to simply take the edge off amassing such a fortune. The drink in question, we like to imagine, might involve bourbon whiskey. For the whisky drinkers wanting a little twist on straight bourbon, we recommend the Glitzy Julep.
To create the Glitzy Julep, make sure you have the following on hand:
- 75ml bourbon whisky
- 8 mint leaves
- 2 sugar cubes
- Shaved ice - A copy of “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”
Should you be kicking off the slippers and donning a pair of heels or Oxfords, leave the mixing to your trusty bartender. But be sure to pack your copy of “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” as the drink will be incomplete without it.
We wouldn't recommend nor enable our readers, or anybody else for that matter, to rely on the sweet, emotionally-numbing sensation of alcohol to deal with grief or fear or both. However, the terrified narrator in The Raven could've used a drink. Perhaps, specifically, this drink right here. Perhaps even, instead of letting a bird creep him out, he could've had a Nevermore Negroni, or three, put on some tunes, flipped through an ancient volume or two, and chilled the f-ck out. Oh, it won't fill the void left by the long-lost Lenore, but hey, time to move on.
Full of folk, mythological, religious, and classical references, Poe's 100+ year old narrative poem still zings with each and every line to this very day; each syllable bursting like heavy musical notes, heavy like the supernatural atmosphere that hangs in the poem itself. It can get a bit creepy here and there... alone at night... a talking bird... so, on second thought: yeah, you might want a drink for this one. Make one for us too.
To create the Nevermore Negroni, you'll need to have the following:
- 100ml sloe gin
- 100ml vermouth rosso
- 100ml Campari
- Orange twist - A copy of 'The Raven'
Makes us think, though. Maybe this is exactly what the narrator was up to in Poe's poem. Maybe he knocked back a few drinks, passed out on the floor, and, you know, his "soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted—nevermore!" (ie, hangover on god mode).
Back in Spring, we introduced to our readers to the "Eat and Read Menu"—a four-course feast, complete with a cocktail section, each paired with a poem, novel, or short story. Our intention was to pair literary delights with unique flavours. Purchase a copy of this issue and recreate this literary-culinary experience at home.