Lily King has written a stunner of a novel based on Margaret Mead's work and her relationships with two of her husbands. Euphoria takes place in Papua New Guinea in the '30's and has echoes of Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene while being wholly the work of a wonderful writer.
Malcolm Brooks, in turn, delivers a brilliant debut, Painted Horses, full of a West that maybe never was but in his hands is real - and in danger of disappearing forever.
Both books begged for a cocktail, and since the gin flows free at the start of Euphoria, that's where I started - with Old Tom Gin, to satisfy the very English players you'll find in these pages. The drink had to be easy - they're anthropologists in the field, after all - so it's just the gin and a touch of Byrrh. And sugar. They're anthropologists but they don't have to rough it all the time for heaven's sake.
Painted Horses called out for whiskey - we're in Montana in the '50's so that's what we're drinking. But I wanted to class it up a little bit - paint the horse, in other words - with a few other flavors for Catherine, the novel's young archaeologist who's quickly captivated by big skies and everything under them.
1 jigger Old Tom Gin
10-12 drops Byrrh
1 sugar cube
Prepare a cocktail glass by soaking the sugar cube with the Byrrh. Shake the gin with ice and strain it carefully into the glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
1.5 oz. High West Double Rye
.5 oz Maraschino liqueur
.25 oz St. George Absinthe
.25 oz lemon juice
Stir all with ice. Strain over. Enjoy.