Friday, August 1, 2014

So many Painted Horses

So many good books, so little time - even in high summer when we should have more lazy opportunities to read.  Do me a favor, though, and make time for the debut novel by Malcolm Brooks, Painted Horses.

This is a good, old-fashioned, sprawling tale set in Montana.  Rock and roll music is still young, but the idea of the American west is already old and slipping away.  The story has been set in motion by the hiring of a young archeologist, Catherine, who's been tasked with conducting a survey of part of the state - before it's inundated by the waters a new dam will generate.

I mixed a Painted Horse for Mr. Brooks a few months ago, and it's good (he humbly says).  I wrote thenPainted 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...who's quickly captivated by big skies and everything under them.

So this was that drink.

Painted Horse No. 1:

1.5 oz. High West Double Rye
.5 oz Maraschino liqueur
.25 oz St. George Absinthe
.25 oz fresh lemon juice

Stir all with ice.  Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. 

Still, do this for me, ok?  Go read the book.  Read it with that drink in hand.  Then when you come upon the painted horse for the first time in the novel's opening pages, you'll think, like Catherine does, that you've encountered the ghost of a war horse, an angry beast with its legs painted in bands of color - red and yellow.  Stamping furiously, head thrown back.  It's a powerful image conjuring another part of the West, Arizona's Painted Desert, and with such a strong suggestion in mind, I thought a layered drink would be perfect to mimic what Brooks had put on the page.

My friend Paulina - the best bartender ever - hated having to make a pousse-café (that's French for how about a beer, instead?) but they can be pretty.  So I went with pretty because so much of Brooks' novel is flat-out gorgeous.  This, then, is the drink you'll find in our newsletter for August.  Enjoy.

Painted Horse No. 2:

Baileys Irish Cream

Float carefully, in the order given, by pouring each over the back of a bar spoon into a chilled pony glass.


  1. Wow, now I'm really floored! I've ordered the original Painted Horse several times (handed my iPhone to the bartender!), and lifted my glass to what must surely be the ultimate compliment. Looks like it's time for round two! Many thanks, Nick, truly.

    1. I assure you, I am the one who is floored. Thinking that you've ordered the first Horse brings me great joy! I hope one day to imbibe with you again. Until then, thanks for the terrific compliment, and also congratulations on the publication of your wonderful novel.