It was a dark and stormy night when I cracked open the Tanqueray. The smell of gin, and desperation, filled the kitchen — another gin and tonic? Oh! The horror!
Slowly I turned the cover of “Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With a Literary Twist” (Running Press, $15). Step by step I worked my way through a couple of its recipes.
Ingredient by ingredient I became a fan of the ersatz bartending guide for English majors, in which summaries of classic novels and their corresponding recipes are garnished with groan-worthy puns and sepia-toned illustrations. I toast to that!
“Tequila Mockingbird” is the brainchild of Broadway actor and choreographer Tim Federle, whose previous writing credits include the Young Adult comic novel, “Better Nate Than Never,” and a natural outgrowth of his interests.
“I’m a shameless punster, a devoted book nerd and a fan of cocktails both classic and quirky,” he said.
While his preferred “Tequila Mockingbird” recipe is Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita — “Ninety percent of my best life memories involve either tequila or Judy Blume books, so I thought I’d mash up the two,” Federle said — my taste buds pledge allegiance to gin.
I tried Federle’s Heart of Dark Mist (gin meets blackberry liqueur, although I substituted Chambord), based on the Conrad novel “Heart of Darkness.” Deep crimson and terribly delicious, it’ll send you down the river of buzzy bliss before you can say “civilization versus savagery.”
I also mixed The Sound and the Slurry, a play on Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury.” It’s “a cocktail that hangs on furiously to a traditional Southern recipe — because some things are best left unexamined,” writes Federle.
Made with gin, creme de cassis and lemon juice, it’s a shake-over-ice-and-strain cocktail, although Federle adds that it can be served on the rocks, “just like your last family reunion.”
The Bevvies for Book Clubs section is devoted to cocktail recipes that serve at least four and up to a dozen. Think The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose, Gone With the Wine, The Joy Luck Club Soda (spiked with rum and brandy).
“I hope groups in need of shaking up their next conversation will read the corresponding novel, break out the barware and get talking — and giggling,” Federle said.
Heart of Dark Mist
Inspired by Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ (1899)
1 1/2 ounces blackberry liqueur
1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice
As quickly as possible — the guests need you in the living room, and for the love of God when did the music stop playing? — shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Brave New Swirled
Inspired by Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ (1932)
1 ounce vodka
1 cup seedless watermelon, chopped into coarse cubes
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 ounce melon liqueur
Add the vodka, watermelon, lemon juice, sugar and a handful of ice to a blender, running until smooth. Pour into a cocktail glass and float the liqueur on top. No matter your political leanings, one gulp of this and you’ll be more than brave enough to fight The Man.
Source: “Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist” by Tim Federle