Friday, May 30, 2014

Books and Booze and All the Light We Cannot See

Real Writers Have Day Jobs.  That's a bumper sticker, right?  Or it should be.

Of course, many real writers have day jobs like, oh, I don't know - teaching creative writing in a university setting.  Me?  I sell books.  This means I get to talk to people nearly every day - about the books that excite me, about the books that excite them.

I also drink.  And since books and booze go together like whiskey goes with sour, I quite naturally combined these two passions.

When a particular book struck me, something like Mrs. Poe, I'd make a drink, and if it was a good drink, I'd write about it, like I did for that terrific book.

Then a compatriot of mine, Schyler, who followed me down some of those paths, brought an idea of his to the attention of Margie - Margie who's one of the owners of the joints that Schyler and I get to run, Margie who, among myriad other duties, oversees the creation of our monthly newsletter, Margie who didn't fire me when she witnessed a particularly bad (read drunken) karaoke turn at the first Book Expo America I ever attended.

Schyler said, Why don't you put Drinks With Nick into the newsletter?  It'd be different, for sure, and different's good.

Margie foolishly thought this was a fine idea, and so Drinks With Nick will now have a small but wet presence in our newsletter.  Each month, I'll drink to a book, and ask you to join me - in the reading and the drinking.  You don't have to partake of the tipple, but I'd appreciate it if you partook of the book.

I guarantee the book will be good.  No such guarantees around the drink.

To kick things off, the merry merry month of May saw the publication of one of the finest novels I've read in a good, long time - Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See.

It's a stunner.  So Doerr's novel inspired  the first chapter in this new book of drinks we'll be creating - and you can check it out here.

All the Light We Cannot See begins in France during World War II, so I wanted to use at least one ingredient from France that would've been around then - enter the Byrrh, a gorgeous aperitif with a red wine base.  I wanted the red for color because there's a gem at the heart of the book, the Sea of Flames, and I needed something to evoke that.  I threw in some St. Germain, also French, a bright elderflower liqueur that was going to play along nicely with some Hendrick's gin.  A second storyline begins in Germany, so I went with bitters from The Bitter Truth, a German outfit, to tie it all together.

That's more than you probably wanted to know about the creation of the Sea of Flames, but sometimes you have to watch the sausage get made.

Again - even if you have no desire to drink, please go to your local indie bookseller and pick up All the Light We Cannot See.  Doerr doesn't waste a single word, and you won't waste a second.  Enjoy.

Sea of Flames

1.5 oz. Hendrick's Gin
1 oz. Byrrh
.5 oz. St. Germain
2 tsp lemon juice
2 dashes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Bitters

Stir all with ice.  Strain into chilled glass.

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