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, 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 them 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 almost 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, it lets you know what you’re in for.
Meanwhile, I performed other feats of alchemy: I began creating sets of four cocktail recipe cards to honor each of the year’s sabbats, beginning with Yule. Each drink represents one of the elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Imbolc, a dairy-themed sabbat starting in February that marks the first inkling of spring, is included in this collection. I also crafted custom cocktails for brands and small businesses like Exile in Bookville, and completed custom commissions honoring friendships, anniversaries, and other milestones.
So, what’s next? Right now, I’m actively seeking opportunities for collaboration with distilleries, liquor companies, and others. I remain open to custom cocktail commissions for individuals, brands, parties, anniversaries, events, and more. And I’ll never stop making booktails inspired by my favorite speculative reads.
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To view the recipes for these delicious beverages, click the images below.