Time to grab a book and get tipsy!
Back by popular demand, Books & Booze, originally a mini-series of sorts here on TNBBC challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist.
Today, Matt Fogarty is all about the drinks, drinks, and MOAR drinks! Check out how he pairs one up with each section of his collection:
Books and Booze: Maybe Mermaids and Robots are Lonely by Matthew Fogarty
Maybe Mermaids and Robots are Lonely is a collection of 34 stories and a novella. Each story is inspired in some way by characters that have become almost legendary in American culture, like Bigfoot or Andre the Giant or the good soldier. I'm sure I could find a cocktail inspired by each story, but that would be dangerous. And yet, one cocktail to represent the full collection doesn't seem like enough. I love cocktails. Often, a good drink is what gets me into a story and through. It's also how I celebrated completing the book. So, I've come up with a cocktail for each of the five sections of the book. I hope you enjoy.
Under: The Detroit
2 oz Woodward Barrel-Aged Gin
1 oz Faygo Rock and Rye
½ oz Tart Cherry Liqueur
5-6 dashes Angostura bitters
Pinch of Morton Salt
Instructions: Combine in a shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled glass—a coupe glass, maybe, or a martini glass, or really any cold glass will do.
It took a while to write this book. It took a while to admit I'm a Michigan writer and even longer to admit there's something worth writing about in the suburbs and, particularly, in my boring coming-of-age in the suburbs of Detroit. I'm still not quite comfortable calling myself a Detroit writer, even though the city and the history and the people inform every sentence, every word, of everything I write. Detroit informs me as a person in the world in all kinds of ways I can recognize and probably even more profound ways I'm not smart enough to deduce. It's a complex city with complex suburbs and a difficult past and an uncertain future. Not unlike this book, I can only hope. And not unlike this drink.
Over: The Bigfoot
1½ oz High West Campfire Whiskey
1½ oz Cold Brew Coffee
½ oz Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
½ oz Maple Syrup
Instructions: Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir. Pour into a glass filled with pebble ice (fun fact that changed my life: you can buy pebble ice for $1.50 a bag at the Sonic drive-thru!). Light a sprig of rosemary with the nearest fire. Let the oils in the rosemary flash and smoke. Let the flame disappear. Spear it into the drink and watch yourself, lest the drink carry you away, the only evidence of your disappearance a trail of muddy prints.
One of the more fun stories in the collection is a retelling of Gogol's "The Overcoat" featuring Bigfoot as a temp at a law firm. This story is a nod both to some of the Russian writers I love, like Gogol, and also to my inglorious past as a lawyer in a large Washington, DC law firm. These are characters I know well, all disassembled and mixed and remixed and reassembled. But it's also a story about two people pressed together in the chaos of work with such force that they get to thinking they ought to be one. That thinking is only reinforced by the taboo of it, of two coworkers dating. And that taboo is released, the thrill of it gone, when everyone finds out. We lead such guarded lives thinking we have things to keep secret. When really, we're all holding onto things, keeping them from others, for no good reason—like our secrets, our failures, our passions, our joys, our hope. Some days it feels like we're all so lonely here together. And it doesn't need to be that way.
Between: Zombie (in your head)
1½ oz Appleton Estate Special Gold Rum
½ oz Bushmills 10-Year Irish Whiskey
½ oz Bacardi 151 Rum
¼ oz Flor de Cana Silver Rum
¾ oz Pineapple Juice
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Cranberry Juice
½ oz Falernum
½ oz Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
2-3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Instructions: I’ve stated the ingredients here in ounces. Consider your day—how large of a horde you’ve had to run from—and adjust amounts accordingly. Add the ingredients (except the bitters) to a shaker and shake heartily. Strain into a tiki mug filled with crushed ice. Top with a few dashes of peychaud’s bitters for that nice blood red finish and garnish with extravagance and joviality using whatever’s on hand (pineapple, tiny umbrella, brains, etc.) Drink cautiously.
The center of the book is a novella. It's a zombie novella, a fairy tale of sorts, set in small part in Muncie, Indiana (because, what better place to have taken over by zombies) and in big part in Detroit. One pivotal moment involves a clash between protestors and the national guard. It took a good while to write until I found the right inspiration—the events of Bloody Sunday and, more specifically, Paul Greengrass' treatment of that day in the movie Bloody Sunday. This drink is a nod to that source, as well as to my family heritage, via the Cranberries, whose song "Zombie (in your head)" was—who knew?—is a protest song about Bloody Sunday.
Above: Andre the Giant
2 oz Crown Royal
½ oz lemon juice
5 oz champagne
Instructions: Shake the Crown, lemon, and simple syrup together with ice. Strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne. Repeat. And then repeat again. And again. And again and again until you're 7'4", 520 lbs, unpinnable, and kind-hearted.
This is a different take on a French 75, replacing gin or cognac with Andre's favored Crown Royal. It's what he'd drink before matches and it plays a bit part in the story "Finishing Moves." The story jumps back and forth in time before, during, and after the famous Wrestlemania III match in the Pontiac Silverdome in which Andre allows himself to be body-slammed by Hulk Hogan. It's an epic moment, the slam, representing the passing of a torch—of the mantle of the hero, the fan favorite—from Andre to Hulk. It's the moment at which Andre, alive at age 40 despite his doctor's prognosis, outlives his usefulness. They no longer need him to be the gentle giant. All that's left for Andre is to play the heel or to head home.
Away: Outline of the Moon
1 ½ oz Port
½ oz Amaro de Angostura
1 oz Raisin-Infused Dark Rum
1 ice sphere made from orange juice and zest
Instructions: Because going to the moon requires preparation and patience, something so big and so far and so perilous to reach, you can just head off cocksure and heedless. So a day or two (or a week or a couple of weeks) in advance, pour an amount of rum into a mason jar filled with raisins. Let it steep until infused. You’ll have a delightful dark rum and a pile of reanimated raisins ready for a second life. Or, I suppose, if you’re pressed for time, you could muddle the raisins into the rum or throw the raisins and the rum and any caution you might have held into a pot and let the rum simmer for a while and then cool. Build the drink in a glass, stir until cold, enjoy at night and outdoors.
The closing story in the book is an alternate history of sorts, a reimagining of the first moonshot set in the early 1900s and greatly influenced by Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics and a painting by the alt musician (and Jim Jarmusch company player) John Lurie. In this story, the first astronauts are sent by slingshot into space to the moon, which turns out to be less than they'd hoped. Life afterward, too, is less than satisfying, as the two men yearn for unsolved mysteries.
Acknowledgments: The Last Word
¾ oz Two James Gin
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Green Chartreuse
¾ oz Maraschino Liqueur
Instructions: Give it a good shake and strain it into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry or a lemon peel or a toothpick. This may be the easiest and best of all these drinks and yet also the most complex in terms of how the ingredients come together—citrusy, sweet, strong, herbal, and, overall, very well balanced. Notwithstanding its name, it’s not the end of anything, but rather the beginning. You’ll want more than one.
This cocktail has a history. It was invented in the 1910s or 1920s in Detroit by a vaudeville monologist named Frank Fogarty (no relation that I know of) (fun(?) fact: he was nicknamed the “Dublin Minstrel”). The story goes that Frank was a regular at the Detroit Athletic Club while in town for a run at the Shrine Theater. One day, he was in the mood to experiment, and thus, the Last Word was born. In ensuing years, the drink was mostly forgotten until a bartender at Seattle’s Zig Zag Café rediscovered it and put it on the menu.
I found the Last Word at a bar called The Passenger in Washington, DC while out with some of the friends named in the Acknowledgments section of the book. This was before I was really a writer. I was practicing law, hating it, wishing for something more, wishing I’d gather the courage to commit myself to writing and write the stories I wanted to write. It wasn’t the drink as much as the friends—who’d already witnessed all my different types of sadness and hoping—who encouraged me to do it, to figure out a way to set everything else aside and write. And as I flip through this book I know it wasn’t just those friends that night, but so many people I’ve been so lucky to have met, who’ve pushed me forward, put up with my shenanigans, given me support, and had confidence in me when I had none in myself. This Last Word is for them.