Tag Archives: cocktails

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere…

Drink Up!

Do you remember your first alcoholic drink? Not only what you drank, but where you were and who you were with? Do specific places and activities have drinks that you associate just with them? Are there certain situations that scream for one particular beverage?

Whenever I hear “Long Island Iced Tea”, I am immediately transported back in time to my senior year of college, specifically to Otter’s Pub in Meadville, PA. This was my drink of choice when hanging out with my friends at that location. I can honestly say that I have never had a Long Island Iced Tea any place else. I know that it just wouldn’t taste as good. That drink is, for me, tied to that spot and that experience.

There are certainly times when a specific place and time call for a precise drink. I was reminded of this recently when reading How to Booze: Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice, The Right Drink for Every Situation by Jordan Kaye and Marshall Altier. This humorous book identifies a specific cocktail for each and every circumstance you could possibly encounter. Need to know what to drink on a first date, second date, or when trying to organize a threesome?  How about the right cocktail for a sporting event, barbeque, or when at the park? What about when you’re obsessing over why he’s not answering the phone or when you’re with people you despise? This book not only has a suggested choice for imbibing under all of these circumstances (and more!), but they’ll tell you why it’s the perfect drink for the occasion. Then you get the recipe for the drink, and explanation of the chosen spirit, mixer, and/or garnish so you know what you are drinking and why it is a necessary component of the concoction. This book goes beyond the usual cosmopolitan (although that is included as the perfect drink for a bachelorette party, natch) and brings back some of the classic cocktails and ingredients that may no longer be a part of popular bar nomenclature. I personally learned things I didn’t know about absinthe and bitters.

So, if you are entering a situation and would like to know the perfect drink to accompany it or if you want to build up your cocktail repertoire, check out some of the following…

How’s Your Drink: Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well by Eric Felten – This James Beard Foundation Award winning author writes, “If you have a creeping suspicion that others are defining you – and judging you, too – by the drink in your hand, you’re not far wrong.” He then proceeds to give the history of great cocktails, the famous, the infamous, and the largely unknown. Each story is provided along with its recipe. This book is as fun to read as the cocktails are to drink.

Cocktail Aficionado by Allan Gage – This is a recipe book, pure and simple. The chapters are organized by the main spirit in the drinks. Here you’ll find the classics as well as some newer tasty choices, such as the Toblerone, Purple Turtle, and Butterflirt. This would make a good bar reference book as well as fodder for an evening’s entertainment. Flip the pages and point to a drink at random. Viola! That’s what we’re drinking next! Plus, I love a book with a built in bookmark. This one actually holds the page down so you can refer to the book while concocting the beverage.

Mr. Boston: 1,500 Recipes, Tools, and Techniques for the Master Mixologist – If you want one book that will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about mixing a drink, this would be it. How to set up your bar and what equipment it should house, necessary glassware and what type of drink each should hold, mixers and garnishes to have on hand, as well as how to create those fruit and vegetable garnishes, how many drinks to have on hand for whatever kind of meal or party you are throwing, and a list of resources where you can locate that hard to find ingredient. This book has it all!

The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics by John Hollinger and Rob Schwartz – If you every wanted to see a lovely coffee table book about cocktails, then this is your book. Each creation is beautifully photographed and explained in great detail. Through the stories, instructions, and explanations, you’ll come to understand the artistic, as well as the practical, side of mixing great beverages that everyone wants to drink.

Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist by A.J. Rathbun – This book has stunning photographs, recipes, explanations, ideas for when the cocktail should be served, factoids, and quotes about the joys of alcoholic beverages. The four drinks to induce dancing? The Don’t Just Stand There, The Eye-Opener, The Tidal Wave, and The Brass Monkey. With 38 kinds of martinis, you can’t go wrong. Bacontini, anyone?

Behind Bars: The Straight-Up Tales of a Big-City Bartender by Ty Wenzel – This is Kitchen Confidential for the bar set. Studded with the occasional drink recipe, this is a what-goes-on-behind-the-scenes tell-all book. You’ll get to hear about those who made fools of themselves when bellied up to the bar and those who didn’t even make it that far. Also included are those dirty little secrets the bartenders and the bar owners don’t want you to know about. This book is just plain good fun!

Suddenly, I feel it’s time for a drink…

-Melissa M.


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Hiding From Summer (But Not From Summer Reading)

Heat and I are not friends; ditto humidity.  With apologies to the beachgoers, picnickers and other outdoorsy folks, I think I’m just going to cut up some fresh fruit, whip up some cold drinks, and spend my summer inside, sprawled in front of a fan, reading.  If you’re inclined to copy my example, here are a few books you can sink your teeth into while you hide from the weather.


The Paris Wife, Paula McClain.  The waiting list for this novel is awfully long, but if you’re a fan of either literary fiction or tragic romance, you should place a hold now, because it’s definitely worth the wait.  McClain’s lush tale of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage brings 1920s Paris to life through the eyes of Hadley, a timid fearful woman whose life revolves around her soon-to-be famous husband.  The Hemingways’ fictionalized courtship, sojourn to the City of Lights, and subsequent break-up (due as much to incompatibility as to expatriate American morals) are both compelling and haunting.  If your heart doesn’t break just a little for Hadley by the end of the novel, you might want to make sure you haven’t died from heatstroke.

Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones.  A bigamist’s two daughters both live in Atlanta, but only one is aware that the other is her sister. Born only four months apart, but as different as night and day, Dana and Chaurisse both love their father.  Chaurisse, however, has never been told about Dana, while Dana knows all about Chaurisse.  In fact, Dana’s been spying on Chaurisse since she was a little girl, with her mother’s help; will the secrecy that’s dominated Dana’s life lead her to make irrevocable choices?  This is a darkly delicious meditation on the nature of deceit and desire, and how they can lead people down paths they never thought they’d take.  Crank up the fan while you turn the pages–this one’s a psychological scorcher.

Witch Child, Celia Rees.  Recapture the feeling of “school’s out for summer” by making a foray into teen fiction via this historical novel. The story unfolds via the diary of Mary, an English teen whose grandmother was executed for witchcraft, forcing Mary’s flight to the new world.  Matters don’t improve there, however, as the witch craze seizes New England, and anybody who doesn’t quite fit the proper social mold is accused of unnatural deeds…including our solitary, introverted heroine.  Will Mary survive and thrive in the colonies?  Or will she meet her fate at the hands of the Puritains? If you enjoy this story, you can then move on to Sorceress, the sequel, in which a contemporary teen finds and reads Mary’s journal.


When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present, Gail Collins. New York Times columnist Collins offers a breathtaking micro-history of the feminist movement that will appeal to readers looking for a balanced history amongst all the heated rhetoric. Readers under forty, especially, may find themselves alternately fascinated with and horrified by pre 1960 cultural conditions and the struggles that led to benefits said readers currently enjoy.  Collins, however, pulls no punches when it comes to describing setbacks, unforseen consequences, and other wobbly patches in women’s liberation.  A clear-eyed, well-researched read for anybody interested in contemporary women’s issues.

33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs From Billie Holiday to Green Day, Dorian Lynskey.  Music buffs and casual listeners alike will find something to love in Lynskey’s collection, which begins by defining the term “protest song,” then takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the cultural circumstances under which some of America’s hardest-hitting tunes were composed.  Beginning with “Strange Fruit,” Lynskey winds through the tumultuous events of twentieth-century history, highlighting artists such as Woody Guthrie , Dead Kennedys, and the recently deceased Gil Scott-Heron.  If you’re curious about the stories behind some of your favorite songs, or just want to learn more about protest music in America, this collection will engross and absorb you!

 Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton.  When it’s too hot to do anything useful, why not try an imaginary life on for size?  Thornton’s in-depth exploration of what it’s like to be part of the contemporary art world allows you to do just that, so if you’ve ever fantasized about working at Christie’s, going to art school, or participating in an international exhibition, this is the book for you.  Thornton’s seven chapters provide a fly-on-the-wall view of what it’s like to occupy a different role in the visual arts, from creator to teacher to buyer, delivering an experience that’s sure to both educate and entertain.  If you love reality television, why not switch off the set for a second and see how the “warts and all” experience of behind-the-scenes reporting translates into book form?

Hot as it may get, you won’t want to hide from the 11th annual Summer Reading Extravaganza coming up on June 12th.  Even I will be there, slathered in sunscreen, and probably wearing a ridiculous hat.  And if the reclusive librarian with the sunshine phobia will be there, you have no excuse not to join the fun.  Pre-register today so you can dive right into the festivities, or sign up that day and tell the registration staff about all the great books you’ve been reading thus far.  And if you happen to catch me before I vanish back into the shadows?  We can swap book suggestions and smoothie recipes!  Definitely cool, in multiple senses of the word.

Leigh Anne
pale, pedantic and proud


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