Cocktails and conversation are a natural pairing—just ask Tessa Smith-McGovern, whose newest project shares drink recipes inspired by authors, quenching the thirst for both a great read and a satisfying libation.
“The book came about for a few reasons,” Smith-McGovern tells EW. “It’s always a thrill to share great writing, and many of these authors are under-appreciated—Gail Godwin and Alison Lurie come to mind instantly, but also Junot Diaz. Plus, cocktails are the height of elegance and say ‘fun time.’ Who doesn’t need more fun in their lives?”
Those authors—as well many others, ranging from Charlotte Perkins Gilman and James Joyce to Gail Tsukiyama—are featured in Cocktails for Book Lovers, alongside mixed drinks inspired by their works, era, or personal favorites. (Think Ernest Hemingway, whose prodigious love of mojitos was reflected in several of his novels.)
Here are five irresistible, literary-inspired cocktails perfect for sipping this Fourth of July—and well, just about any time.
Jane Austen: Miss Austen’s Delight
“It’s little known that Jane Austen was a sophisticated reveler and wine drinker,” writes Smith-McGovern, making this cocktail—incorporating Madeira, a popular drink in 19th century England—one that Austen may have enjoyed.
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Malmsey (Madeira)
1 tsp. orange juice (optional)
2 maraschino cherries
Shake all ingredients except cherries with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with maraschino cherries.
Junot Diaz: Papi’s Rum Punch
Rum is a popular spirit in the Domincan Republic, the island of Junot Diaz’s birth, and figures prominently in his novel This Is How You Lose Her.
8 oz. light rum
8 oz. aged rum
8 oz. fresh orange juice
8 oz. mango nectar or juice
4 oz. pineapple juice
8 lemon wheels
In a pitcher, combine all ingredients except the lime wheels and refigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Stir well and serve over ice in punch glasses. Garnish each drink with a lemon wheel. Serves 6-8.
William Faulkner: Mint Julep
William Faulkner adored mint juleps, a classic cocktail combining mint, bourbon and plenty of crushed ice.
4-6 fresh mint sprigs
2 1/2 oz. bourbon whiskey
1 tsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. water
Muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar, and water in a Collins glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add bourbon. Top with more ice and garnish with a mint sprig. Serve with a straw.
Jhumpa Lahiri: Classic Champagne Cocktail
Elegant and sophisticated, champagne is the beverage of choice at the wedding joining Namesake characters Nikhil and Moushumi.
1 sugar cube
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 oz. brandy
Orange slice for garnish
Maraschino cherry for garnish
Place a sugar cube in the bottom of a Champagne flute. Use the dashes of bitters to saturate the cube. Add the brandy. Fill with Champagne and garnish with a twist of lemon or orange and a cherry.
Matthew Quick: Beer Margarita
Beer, tequila and limeade are blended for a heady cocktail inspired by Silver Linings Playbook protaganist Pat, who drinks beer after performing a triumphant choreographed dance with partner Tiffany.
1-12 oz. bottles of your favorite beer, chilled
1/2 cup limeade (frozen concentrate, thawed)
1/2 cup tequila (chilled)
In a pitcher, combine beer, limeade, and tequila. Fill glasses with crushed ice, then with margarita mixture. Optional: Garnish with fig wedges and serve. Serves 4.