Monday, June 1, 2020

A Sinister Quartet's Guide to Books & Booze

Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Books & Booze 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 we welcome the multiple authors behind the collobrative A Sinister Quartet  which gathers original long-form wonders and horrors composed in unusual keys, with a short novel by World Fantasy Award winner C. S. E. Cooney and a new novella from two-time World Fantasy Award finalist Mike Allen joined by debut novellas from rising talents Amanda J. McGee and Jessica P. Wick. All four offer immersions into strange, beautiful and frightening milieus.

Behind the walls of an invulnerable city ruled by angels, old movies provide balm for the soul and a plan to escape risks grisly retribution. A princess discovers a passage to a nightmarish world of deception and blood-sealed enchantment. A woman who has lost everything meets a man of great wealth and ominous secrets. In a town haunted by tragedy, malevolent supernatural entities converge, and the conflict that ensues unleashes chaos.

C. S. E. Cooney (author of the short novel “The Twice-Drowned Saint”)

Alizar’s Benison Wine

In Fabulous Gelethel, which is always under angelic quarantine, the only thing citizens may drink is what is provided by the angels themselves. In this case, the Seventh Angel—Alizar the Eleven-Eyed—has provided, in his great munificence, a shrub called “Benison Wine.”

INGREDIENTS: 1 shot glass of ineffable beauty, bought on the cheap from your favorite thrift store; 1 “dollop” of Ginger Beer (brand: Reed’s “Strongest”); 1 “dash” of Jalapeño/Tequila/Lime Hot Sauce (brand: Queen Majesty, of course); 2 “glugs” of Prickly Pear Sour (brand: Iconic Cocktail Co.); and just a “soupçon” of D’Anjou Pear White Balsamic Vinegar (brand: We Olive). For garnish: a tiny, tasty red pepper! This drink is refreshing, complex, sweet, sour, and bold. Above all, it’s good for the gut!

Remember: Alizar the Eleven-Eyed provides for his people. Unlike some angels we could mention.

Jessica P. Wick (author of the novella “An Unkindness”)

Ravenna’s Notes on Heart in a Green Glass Cup
(cocktail created by Elissa Sweet)

I don’t know who thought it would be funny ha ha to name this cocktail. Certainly Aliver thinks it funny, and naturally I suspect him. I think it more funny aaaagh you caught me on my funny bone and now my whole body is unhappy. I will uncover the culprit. But even I must admit it is a very good drink for sipping broodingly at a window, preferably while light catches the ruddy ardor of the drink’s fabulous color, and then whoever you’re brooding at looks up and spies you with your heart in a green glass cup, and you give them a slight nod which means Yes, mine enemy, I do look fabulous and I will soon be defeating you in that argument we keep having and I hope you are not enjoying your impending doom as much as I am because this drink is very delicious and as soon as I have had three more I will be right down. I confess, for education purposes, I have been trying a few glasses of Heart—just to see if anybody is experimenting with variations of course. It tastes green and refreshing and I think it will give you courage if you are unable to sally forth and do deeds of derring.

Here is the recipe, complete with notes, as I have wrangled it from the notes of a very wary bartender:

2 oz gin
2 oz red berry juice (we used pomegranate cherry)
Mint leaves
3 oz seltzer

Muddle 6-8 mint leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add ice, juice and gin to the shaker and shake until cold. Strain into a green glass and top with seltzer. Garnish with a sprig of mint, preferably fresh from the garden. Tastes woodsy and fruity and fresh, like a springtime walk in the pines when you happen across fresh berries. Looks like blood.

Amanda J. McGee (author of the novella “Viridian”)

Snowfall at Evergreen (Rosemary Gin Fizz):

1.5 oz of rosemary simple syrup, made with as much rosemary as you can stand (I used about 12 inches of rosemaryremove from the stem and finely dice before adding to your sugar water and cooking down)
2 oz your favorite gin (try Smuggler’s Notch, which Lori drove by on her first drive to Caspian Lake!)
4 ice cubes
1 egg white
Club soda

Rosemary is for memory and happens to be an evergreen. Combine this with a Vermont gin’s piney scent and you have the perfect odor to evoke chilling walks in the forest amidst the fresh, sound-muffling snow.

To mix, use a cocktail shaker (a regular-sized Mason jar will also work wonders here). Add the gin, simple syrup, ice cubes, and egg white. Shake until most of the ice has melted and the mixture is frothy. Pour into your favorite glass (or keep it in your jar). Add about 2-4 ounces of club soda (to taste, it’s really just a filler). Sip. I think it tastes like rosemary marshmallows. If you like your drinks less sweet, cut back on the rosemary simple syrup. You could likely add a touch of lemon or lime here to brighten (as in a traditional gin fizz), but I haven't tried that out yet!

Mike Allen (author of the novella “The Comforter”)

Southern Ember

Peaches are for devouring. So are souls. Flesh, on the other hand, is malleable as clay and vulnerable as paper, easily opened at seams you never knew were there, ready to be removed and repurposed.

For this recipe, we’ll focus on peaches. It’s so simple anyone could make it, including the culinarily untalented author, who came up with it while sheltering at home as he looked for a way to enliven his pre-existing liqueur possibilities.

In a transparent glass supplied with ice cubes, fill the bottom half to two thirds full with peach schnapps (the brand in the photo is de Kuyper Peachtree). Then, ideally pouring gently on the ice, carefully fill the glass the rest of the way with Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey. (We are uncertain if any other brand of this particular concoction exists.) This produces the smoky upper layer, and smoke of course signifies fire, which is a thing that terrifies even devourers of soulsbut confronting our fears makes us hardier, after all.

If you don’t have a taste for the extremes of Southern sweet tea, you might be daunted by this drink. You might even call it an abomination that shouldn’t exist, just like the monsters in this story.


World Fantasy Award-winning writer C. S. E. Cooney is the author of Desdemona and the Deep, and Bone Swans: Stories. She has narrated over a hundred audiobooks—including her own—and has produced three albums as the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine. Her short stories and poems can be found in numerous anthologies and magazines. Learn more online at

Jessica P. Wick is a writer and freelance editor living in Rhode Island. She enjoys rambling through graveyards and writing by candlelight. She will take her shoes off to walk through some truly freezing surf. You can follow her at instagram: foamlyre, twitter: lunelyre, or

Amanda J. McGee is a mapmaker by day and a writer by night. She is the author of the epic fantasy series The Creation Saga, one half of the podcast Pop Fizz!, and blogs weekly on books, movies, anime, and writing advice. You can find out more on her website at

Nebula, Shirley Jackson and two-time World Fantasy award finalist Mike Allen wears many hats. An author, editor and publisher, his books include the novel The Black Fire Concerto, the short story collection Unseaming and the Clockwork Phoenix anthology series. You can follow Mike’s exploits as a writer at, as an editor at, and all at once on Twitter at @mythicdelirium.

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