Enjoy this selection of booktails, custom mocktails and themed cocktails. Cheers, witches!
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Photo by Sarah Marcella
Photo by Sarah Marcella
THE ORIGIN OF PICK YOUR POTIONS
It all started with the French Lace, which sounds like perfume and lace thigh highs. It’s actually a cocktail served at The Fat Lady Bar and Restaurant in Oakland, CA where you feel like you’re in the sumptuous tea room of a sexy grande dame. In the early days of our relationship, my spouse Jen and I would go there for brunch and although I would usually just pick at the food, the drinks were fabulous. Magical. The French Lace is served in a martini glass rimmed with sugar and contains a mix of pear vodka, champagne and elderflower. I loved it, but I didn’t want to schlep to The Fat Lady to get it. So I figured out how to make the drink at home.
I started experimenting with more champagne cocktails with violet liqueur and other unusual ingredients, adding rum or vodka. Before long, I’d amassed a strangely marvelous collection of liqueurs and bitters. Jen gave me a notebook full of cocktail challenges and I began incorporating custom, themed cocktails into creative coaching workshops I was leading. The participants liked the drinks better than anything.
Then, the pandemic happened and there were no more workshops or parties. But I had a book coming out. To help generate collateral, I suggested to my editors that I create drinks to pair with my novel The Gold Persimmon. In the end, I created six sets of cocktails and mocktails: The Gold Persimmon, The Red Orchid, Clytemnestra, The Fog, Sex in Mirrors, and Do Not Disturb. I showed other authors what I’d done and offered to do the same for their books. The response was overwhelming. One by one, I entered these texts, from novels and short story collections to poetry, memoir, nonfiction guides, and even a political science textbook. I took in the scents and scenes, harvested references, touched and tasted what I could, then I translated that experience into a drink and photographed it. The photograph is as important as the recipe: photography is its own art, and therefore tells its own story. In this case, the image sets a mood and stimulates your curiosity. It's all part of the seduction.
In addition to booktails, in October of 2021 I began performing another feat of alchemy: creating sets of four cocktail recipes to honor each of the year’s eight sabbats, beginning with Yule. The complete set of 32 recipes is called the Wheel of the Year deck, named for the pagan spiritual calendar. The printed and downloadable versions will be released this fall and are now available for pre-order.
I've also crafted custom cocktails for brands and small businesses like Exile in Bookville, and completed custom commissions honoring friendships, anniversaries, birthdays, and other milestones. I created a cocktail and mocktail for each of Grubstreet's 2022 Muse and Marketplace all-conference reads and pre-recorded a 75-minute mixology class for writers to accompany the drinks. Most recently, I landed a monthly booktail column in Electric Literature, with a new recipe out every third Friday of the month.
So, what’s next? Right now, I’m actively seeking opportunities for collaboration with distilleries and liquor companies. I happily accept custom cocktail and mocktail commissions for individuals, brands, parties, anniversaries, events, and more. And I’ll never stop making booktails inspired by my favorite contemporary reads. In fact, my ultimate goal is a book of booktails. Imagine how that would look on your coffee table, or home bar!
To submit a request for a custom recipe or interview, or to discuss collaboration, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.