The literature: emilystjohnmandel's STATION ELEVEN

The libation: After the collapse of civilization, what drink would you miss most? Surely you can scavenge plenty of wine and whiskey that’s kept perfect well (and even aged nicely) in basements and pantries - you could even make yourself a hot toddy with it, warmed over the fire.

But just think - you’ll never drink an ice-cold beer again. Want some citrus to mix with the last of your vodka? Unless you’re in Florida or California, you’re SOL. After the ants get to the granulated sugar, you can’t even make simple syrup. Bloody Mary? Sure, if you’ve got the tomatoes, but where are you gonna find Worcestershire sauce?

Of course, it’s not all bad - there’s fresh fruit when you can get it, and preserves, once you’ve figured out how to can produce without giving everyone lead poisoning. You can set up a still, teach yourself to make beer and wine and liquor. But those tiny luxuries - bitters, liqueurs, ice in the middle of summer? They’ve gone for good.

So raise one final glass to our opulent age, before the flu comes. Pour an old-fashioned, while you still have a choice in whether or not to be. Moisten a sugar cube (it comes in cubes!) with 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters (they still make that!) in the bottom of a glass. Stir till the sugar’s dissolved, and add 2oz good spicy rye and a laughably huge ice cube (ready whenever you are). Garnish with orange peel, imported just for you from the farthest corners of the country. Stir, inhale, enjoy.

Survival, as they say, is insufficient.

Photo © Punch

Mmm. Tastes like NBA Longlist.




The libation: On what would have been the author’s 124th birthday, we bring you something R’lyeh, e’speciallyeh delicious. Combine 2oz Kraken dark rum, 1oz elder(gods)flower liqueur, 1oz fresh lime juice (the green, sticky spawn of the stars), and a dash or two of Angostura bitters. Recite the incantation (Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn) while shaking with ice. Serve in a rocks glass, garnish with a tentacle twist of lime.

Pair with a dinner of odori-don, if you’re feeling brave in the face of the indifferent universe. And please, summon the Great Old Ones responsibly.

Photo © Mike McCune

R’lyeh proud of this one.



The literature: EL James’ FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

The libation: Have your cat o’ nine (cock)tails handy - we’re going in.

We know it’s your first time, so we won’t be too rough on you.


We’re going to instruct you on how to make a Cherry Smash, so listen carefully. Muddle a few maraschino cherries at the bottom of a rocks glass. Don’t be shy, really get in there and go to town on them. Add ice, for the shock of it. In a cocktail shaker, shake 1oz Jack Daniels, 1oz cherry juice, 0.5oz amaretto, and 0.5oz ginger brandy (for spice). Pour over the ice and cherries, and then top with cherry cola (something something Lana Del Rey something) and stir.

In this Red Room, you’ll be feeling no pain.

Or, for those of you who’re a little more experienced, our friends over at learningmixology have suggested iced Earl Gray tea mixed with bruised peach simple syrup and bourbon, garnished with hand-slapped mint leaves. We’ll give that our spank of approval.

Photo © Tastebook

I’m so, so, so sorry.



a found poem based on Lo Boswoth’s Grub Street Diet food diary

I was intimately involved
with a hot Monday night in New York City
the feeling of folding over each other
like pages in a book

the most splendid juice collects
so physically satisfying
I’m feeling exhausted now
light, molecular

Ladies and gentlemen, my best friend.



The literature: T.S. Eliot’s THE WASTE LAND

The libation: If your sommelier is moving a little slowly today, friends, please forgive her. Last night she discovered the glory, the transcendent seasonal beauty, the earthy, spicy taste of the dirty pickled ramp Gibson. After one, she was in love. After two, she wanted to wax rhapsodic about the subtleties of flavor, the ephemerality of spring, the underappreciated appeal of the savory cocktail. After three… she was pretty tipsy, so she didn’t.

She did, however, locate a recipe so she could share the sublime joy of this cocktail with the rest of you. To wit: stir together 2.5oz gin (Plymouth or similar), 0.5oz dry vermouth, and about a quarter-ounce of the brine from your pickled ramps (use more or less to taste, depending on how dirty you like it, you naughty thing). Serve in a lowball glass and garnish with several pickled ramps. If you’re feeling particularly saucy, crack a little fresh black pepper on top.

As you sip, reread Eliot’s masterpiece and muse on the cruelty of April that leads to the fleeting bounty of your cocktail garnish, and take a moment to reflect on how you, too, are “mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”

Photo © The Kitchn

I just hit new heights of pretentious hipster insufferability, but I DON’T CARE (I LOVE IT). Also this is the best cocktail I’ve ever had, ever.



The literature: Josh Malerman’s BIRD BOX

The libation: Chores are done for the day. You’ve made it to the well and back and the door is locked and barred. All the windows have been checked and recovered. The boy and the girl are asleep in their bedroom. Take the black blindfold off and pour yourself a well-deserved Beige Blindfold. Shake 3 parts gin, 1 part lemon juice - careful with it, you’re running low and who knows when you’ll be able to scavenge more - 1 part cognac, and 1 part triple sec with ice and pour - wait.

Was that a noise in the yard? 

Freeze. Listen.

There. Again. Closer this time.

Cross the floor silently, ears straining for any sound. Your blindfold is back in your hands. Your hands are shaking.

Press your ear to the front door, mere inches of wood between you and the world.


And then the birds start to shriek.

Photo © ABS

No I totally didn’t creep myself out writing this, what are you talking about shut up you’re sleeping with the lights on.



The literature: Kaui Hart Hemmings’ THE DESCENDANTS

The libation: Next week your humble sommelier will be lounging on a beach on the Big Island, reading extensively and drinking everything she can get her hands on that has a little umbrella sticking out of it. (She’s thinking of it as a research trip and wondering vaguely if she can write it off on her taxes next year.) But fear not - she’s planning a special Proof (Beach) Reading series for you based on said research. 

We’ll kick it off with Hemmings’ quintessential Hawaiian novel and a Lava Flow cocktail. In a blender, combine 2oz fresh stemmed strawberries, 1oz light rum, and 1oz Malibu rum. Blend until smooth and pour into a pitcher. Next, blend a banana, 3oz coconut cream, and 3oz pinapple juice. Blend until smooth and add slowly to the strawberry puree. Garnish with a pineapple slice and a strawberry, and sip deeply as you reapply your SPF 45.

Photo © Eric Chan

"Research." Yup.

(omg omg vacation so soon omg)



The literature: Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN

The libation: Should Mark Watney ever make it home from being stranded on Mars after an near-catastrophic accident, he’ll certainly need a stiff drink. But serving him a cocktail called a Red Planet seems a bit cruel, so let’s just enjoy it ourselves while we’re waiting, and serve him maybe just a beer or something simple and inoffensive.

Add 1oz Campari, 3/4 oz Grand Marnier, and 1 oz grapefruit juice to a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with orange wheel. Keep both feet planted firmly on Earth, raise a toast to Mark, and enjoy.

Photo © FSE

I get really proud of myself when I can match the drink to the color scheme of the jacket design. (Say it with me now - nerrrrrrd.)



The literature: Helene Wecker's THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI

The libation: If Chava the golem and Ahmad the jinni were to meet on the streets of the Lower East Side today instead of in 1899, they might stumble into a speakeasy to talk philosophy and the immigrant experience over an Earth & Fire cocktail from Mr. Rain’s Fun House in Baltimore:

  • Add the following to a shaker with ice: 1.5 oz beet-infused mezcal, .5 oz Cointreau, .5 oz lime juice, .5 oz honey syrup, and several dashes of fennel bitters.
  • Shake & strain into a glass. Garnish with fennel.
Surely they’d find themselves among a host of other alien lifeforms, old and new, drowning their sorrows and loneliness and worries about the tiny tenement apartment they can’t afford. Everything changes and nothing does.

Photo © LDO

Hey Heleeeeeeene I got you a paperback birthday present.