Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Jack & Lydia - from Everything I Never Told You

To celebrate the full swing of summer, this month's Books Inc. newsletter features a cocktail that goes down easy on a hot, July day (really, it goes down easy regardless of the day, but I'll use anything for an excuse).

The drink pays tribute to Celeste Ng's debut, Everything I Never Told You.  The novel follows the complications set in motion when a blonde graduate student marries her Chinese-American professor.

Since the year is 1958 - almost a full decade before the Supreme Court would invalidate the prohibitions against interracial marriage - the aftershocks of this act will be felt for years, leading to a convulsion that Marilyn and James didn't foresee.

(I should have asked Ms. Ng if she chose 1958 because that's the year the couple in the Court's landmark Loving v. Virginia decision actually married - but, alas, I did not, so I don't know whether this is Art imitating Life, but it's pretty to think so.)

I wanted to use ingredients that would reflect James Lee's heritage, and for me the most accessible component was Tsingtao beer.  Beer cocktails can be refreshing, and since Everything I Never Told You is a summer debut, that worked perfectly.

The name comes from two of the principle characters in the novel - the teens Lydia and Jack.  In flashback, we'll see Lydia - the  from the book's title - befriend the complicated Jack.

Lydia is not as she seems, nor is Jack - and the same goes for our cocktail.  The collins glass you'll hold will look like it just contains beer, but the addition of Galliano gives it an unexpectedly sweet complement.

Because Galliano gets its licorice flavor from star anise, this was the perfect opportunity to use Bar Keep's Chinese bitters.

These play off the traditional Chinese five-spice powder, and since one of those five spices is star anise...see what I did there?

Please - purchase the novel, from us or some other fabulous Indie, and then belly up to my bar.

Jack & Lydia

5 oz. Tsingtao beer
1 oz. Galliano
2 shakes Bar Keep Chinese bitters
Garnish:  Lemon wedge
Stir all gently with ice.  Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass.  Squeeze lemon into glass and add wedge.