Books, booze and bawdiness.

You’d never serve a Budweiser alongside a shimmering lobe of foi gras any more than you’d pop the cork on a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal and sip it between bites of a power bar, right?

Having spent a little time re-organizing the family library this week, I was left musing over the agreeable task of deciding what beverage I’ll likely pair with some of the books I’ve placed on my “Must Read” list of 2013.

For instance:

James Joyce, one of the controversial omission...

I’ll flip a coin, but I need to read either Dubliners or Ulysses by James Joyce.

Drink of choice—Guinness. Or perhaps I’ll give the James Joyce Cocktail a trial run:

James Joyce Cocktail

(Original recipe by Gary Regan.)

  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.


Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobb...

Tolkien’s Gollum

I long ago read the trilogy, but somehow missed The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Drink—Seeing as Ent-draught, Miruvor and the Orc’s ‘vitality’ liquid aren’t readily available in any pub, wine shop or liquor store in my neck of the woods, a good second choice might be a glass of hard cider. Two of my favorites would have to be Scrumpy and Crispin, but if you’re looking for a few more well-made suggestions, click here.




Much to my chagrin, I continued to cast aside Treasure Island.

English: Skull and crossbones

by Robert Louis Stevenson in favor of Johnny Depp’s visual buffet on the silver screen. It’s time. And in my hand should be something tropical and rum based. As it’s currently blowing gale-force February breezes, I figure I’ll batten down the hatches with a Hot ToddyIf I can’t unravel the tale until summer, the perfect Caipirinha will be next on deck. Whatever ends up resting on the coaster, Nelson’s folly is sure to fit.


But before I read anything else, I plan to crack the spine on the hottest and naughtiest new novel to come out of Scotland. As you can see below, my friend Robin Gott has illustrated the soon-to-be-released cover, but I’ve yet to purchase a personal copy.

Obviously, there are a couple of drams that come to mind as a befitting companion. But let’s agree, nothing but scotch will satisfy.

–        Pinch by Haig & Haig

–        Slutty Cark—er … I mean Cutty Sark

–        Black Velvet (Yep, I know it’s Canadian, but I felt compelled to let this one in.)

–        Vat 69

–        Glengroin—sorry, Glengoyne

–        Eades Anticipation Double Malt Series (Speyside, Hightland or Islay)

–        Longrow

–        Amrut “Fusion”

1211_05If you’re like me, the thirst for knowledge is never quenched and within no time at all you’ll be looking for another perfect union between books and booze. For further companionable matches, I recommend you take a glance at this indispensable article for a wealth of options.


Don’t forget to check out what I blethered on about this week on the main post page (here) and find out what’s cookin’ in the scullery too (here)!


21 thoughts on “Books, booze and bawdiness.

    • Thank you for the lovely compliment, Harvey. And if by public, are you asking if your comments be visable to the massive readership I’ve thus far acquired? Then yes, both my parents, my dentsit and Earl down at the post office will see your words. They might even get printed out and pasted onto the refrigerator as Comment of the Week. Fingers crossed, Harvey. Your chances are high. Many thanks for reading.

  1. You had me at “books” and “booze,” Shelley. “Bawdiness” is the Luxardo cherry in my Manhattan, which I pair with Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, or perhaps something by Henry James. Looking forward to exploring more of your blog!

    • Boy, what a daymaker of a comment. If possible, I’d happily send you my liver and say have a dram on me, but the postman gets incredibly cross when I do that and I promised him no more mailing of internal organs. So it shall be a metaphorical raising of our glasses. Slainte! 😛

      • On it! Half three a.m and I should be in my bed but I napped earlier and am having a second wind. A hauf in hand and some enjoyable browsing. No work tomorrow so all’s well. 🙂 x

  2. Brilliant; though I must admit I was picking Bushmills Black Bush to go with Joyce; a Old Mout mulled cider [] with the Tolkein (and lots of it; I loathe Tolkein these days) and a good Talisker with Treasure Island – mostly because I like to imagine the young Stevenson drinking it to ward off the Edinburgh damp before he decamped to warmer climes. Second choice would be Tahitian rum! Thanks for a cheerful, thought-provoking post that’s taken me away from boring work on a wet Monday morning. 🙂

    • Okay, I hate admitting it, but I’m not a huge fan of many Irish whiskies–not to say they aren’t finely crafted spirits, but rather most are triple distilled and become incredibly refined in scent and flavor. My tongue is a bit more Neanderthal-like and I still require some of the bolder, rougher notes of salt and peat and smoke. An exception I happily make is called Yellow Spot. 100% yum.
      And now, I shall be on the hunt for the Old Mout mulled cider. Many thanks for the great suggestions, Su! Hope the day progressed in an upward trajectory. 😀

      • That’s so funny. I’m Scots; born in Edinburgh and can trace my family back 10 generations in various villages in Fife — yet with few exceptions (Tobermory, Talliker) prefer Irish whiskeys. My father would probably disown me if he knew :-). I don’t know Yellow Spot, but will try to find it.
        Not sure you’ll be able to find Out Mout; it’s a Kiwi brand, so unless you’re planning a trip downunder (NZ or Aus) it might prove elusive. Cheers, Su.

        • Well firstly, Su, I think the Kingdom of Fife is one of the most glorious places in the world. AND IT’S STILL A KINGDOM! How many of us can say that, eh? It’s like being born in the first chapter of a fairy tale. And Tobermory and Tallisker are two malts that definitely get a massive thumbs up from me.
          I’ve only found Yellow Spot in Dublin, so that might be a hunt – but a worthy one.
          And I’ve been to both NZ and Aus, and have friends in both countries. One day I shall return with Old Mout at the top of my list. Priorities, right?

          • 🙂 How can I not agree- having little but Fifeshire blood in my veins!

            Glad to hear you have visited our shores. Hope you do come back sometime. We’re actually managing to make a few good ciders, so there will be plenty of choice for mulling.

            Cheers, Su

  3. Shel, girl, I need your expertise. I want to broaden my experience with whiskey and bourbon but I have specific tastes. I like my liquor like I like my men: dark, rich, smooth, layered with flavor, and having a nice finish. So, not JD. Not Pendleton, either, I’m afraid. It tasted light and bland straight outta the can. I used to sip Cutty Sark, Johnny Black Label, or Remi VSOP back in the day but I’m looking for stuff with more nuance now.

    I’m not in the position to saunter into the local rummy’s apothecary and plunk down forty on a bottle in the hopes it won’t suck, I want to hedge my bets with research. So, naturally, I knew I had to bring it to the whiskey chick on WordPress.

    Aaaaand go.

    PS: I’m sipping Advocaat with brandy and warm milk right now–Nom, nom, nom! Eggnog can eat my shorts.

    • Well, firstly, I’m hugely flattered and honored to assist–as best I can. If you lived next door, I’d have you pop on over so you could give one of around 150 single malts a try. I can’t recall how many I have, it’s not really about numbers, it’s about magic. Finding yourself either a place where a whisky tasting is being held (tis the season–especially Burns Night on January 25th each year), or finding a person who has a modest library. Hell, even if they have just 3 or 4 for you to have a sip of, it would be helpful. I say this because scotch is hugely expensive. Most good bottles are going to be definitely upward of $40. Try $60, or $70 and higher. So yes, I agree, knowing what you like is key.

      Secondly, and I repeat myself, knowing what you like is key. You’re not going to know if you like smoke and peat and brine in your bottle unless you actually try it. And if you’ve not had a lot of single malts before, then it’s best not to start on that end of the spectrum. It’ll likely turn you off completely. Check to see if any of the finer bars or restaurants with bars around you have a good selection of scotch, speak to the manager and ask to do a tasting. Tell him/her that you’ll bring three friends.

      My advice–and again, I’m basing this simply on what you’ve described above which are all blends, apart from the cognac which is grape and not grain spirit–I’d suggest starting out with a scotch that comes from the Speyside or the Highland region of Scotland. The bottle labels will tell you. Avoid the islands for now. They’ll scrape the tartar off your teeth. And although I’m not a fan of whiskies that are finished off in port or Madeira casks, as I find those fortified wines muffle the taste of the spirit itself, they do add a depth and richness that you may find delicious. I have very few blends in my collection. Like you, I’ve found them to be, on the whole, missing something. And I’ve only got one or two Irish, as they traditionally distill their new make spirit three times versus the Scot’s technique of two. Four, and you’ve got vodka.

      Bourbons I also make a fairly wide berth of simply because I find corn (as the traditional highest grain ingredient) as too sweet. Ryes are blissfully spicy though, so maybe you’d like to toy with those. Woodford Reserve is about the only bourbon I’ll happily drink, but that’s because the rye outweighs the corn.

      There. I’be blethered on probably way too much, but once I get started … well, you know.

      And your evening bedtime cocktail sounds like something I’m going to have to give a try. Wow. Totally tempting.

      Let me know if I can be of any more help, that is if I was of any help today.

      • Ha! I knew I came to the right woman.

        I should probably qualify myself by saying that I have indeed done a tasting. I was somehow invited to a high end Johnny Walker event in my youth (all the important people of Denver drunk in one place, very satisfying for a writer) with the white tablecloths, the good shoes, the four little glasses situated accurately on place mats of Scotland. A thick Glasgowegian brogue lectured us in full kilt, sporran, sgian dubh, the whole bit, as he paced slowly from one side of a platform to another with the house lights dimmed. I loved the hell out of it.

        That was the night I stopped drinking Red Label forever and glommed onto Black. I am very much anti-brine and pro-peat, especially when there’s that inexplicable vanilla action going on (drool). I lean towards sweet and smooth in my alcoholic training (I say training because I just can’t seem to embrace it as a vice; it’s fun and all but I draw the line at waking up in pain) so I’m guessing the corn mash products would suit me. I’m sure it’s nature over nurture; I was born in Iowa.

        I had a long conversation with some of the employees of my favorite liquor store last night about various rye delectables but their experience was limited and they very obviously pulled towards their own tastes rather than mine, which is understandable but frustrating. At least it wasn’t as bad as the Whole Foods Beer Incident.

        I’m from Iowa, Denver, and Portland, Oregon. I know my beer. I love a brewery called Southern Tier and was after a bottle of Choklat Stout (drink it and see God) when I sought the counsel of a beer steward about the blank spot on the shelf. The young ‘un Whole Foods foisted on me kept pressuring me to try uber hoppy beers instead–the ones that exfoliate the inside of your mouth with bitterness to the point you’re convinced you’re sipping pine tar–and I kept insisting that my personal IBU was under 50. He said, and I quote, “Well, when your taste buds mature, you’ll start liking the hoppy ones.” I walked out of there with the Store Manager’s personal business card and a $25 gift certificate to deter me from sticking my boot in someone’s twenty-something little freckled ass.

        I think the obvious solution is to start dating financially well-endowed men with whiskey intellect who will let me steal a sip of whatever they’re taking. Who give fantastic massages and have green eyes and love long drives in the…sorry, lost my train of thought, there.

        PS: One hundred and fifty? WHY don’t I live next to you?

        • Well, good heavens, you’re way ahead of the curve on this one. And I certainly don’t mean to leave out all the distillers that are popping out of the woodwork in your neck of the woods–that is if you’re still upper west coast situated. Tons of craft distillers out that way. (Whisky is basically just distilled beer) Many still in the experimental phase of things and some requiring further tweaking, but still, you may find something that falls within your wheelhouse of palate preference.

          If you’re pro-peat, you’ll likely not find a helluva lot of vanilla in the same bottle. Peat can kind of come across like an eager fifteen-year old boy and a bottle of cologne before his first real date. So to be really specific, Eastern Highland malts might fit your flavor profile: they’ve got the fragrant, sweet and fruity flavors of a typical Speyside spirit, but still contain the full-bodied weight of a Highland, with the added bonus of a delicate peatiness.

          And I second your obvious solution. In all it’s wonderful glory.

          Next time you’re in the Old Dominion … 😛

          • “Way ahead of the curve.” I think that’s my bra style but I can’t remember, they keep changing it.

            What’s the Old Dominion? Is that like a consignment clothing shop for doily ladies? 😉

            Yeah, I think ol’ Green Eyes is my best bet. Gives me something to look forward to in 2015.

    • Reading and understanding are two separate events. But after a dram or two, I’m convinced I begin to understand the whole world and what it’s trying to communicate–accurately or otherwise. It all comes down to perspective and ABV.

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