Welcome to my very first Thirsty Thursday! My intentions for Thirsty Thursdays are to share recipes for cocktails, mocktails, and edibles with a literary twist. Perhaps the recipes will be straight from a recently reviewed book, perhaps they’ll be based on terrible literary puns, and perhaps they’ll be from a cookbook I’ve recently perused or another blog.
For this first TT post, I will be reviewing Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle. This book has cocktails, mocktails, niblets, and terrible literary puns so it was obviously right up my alley. Did I actually make any of the recipes in the book? NO. I’m too poor to afford all these ingredients! I don’t have a fancy pantry or a fully stocked bar. I do have decent experience with mixology and basic kitchen cookery to gauge the yumminess of the contents of this book.
Tequila Mockingbird: Overview
The layout of this book is simple and straightforward. It gives a brief overview of glassware, tools, techniques, and ingredients that will catapult you into an illustrious side-career of being the designated bartender at all of your friends’ parties, ensuring you never get a chance to enjoy the party. But hey, at least you can reserve the good stuff for yourself, right?
After going over the basics of how to synthesize all the above components into one visually and gastronomically enticing final product, we get to the recipes. The recipes are split into five parts. Drinks for Dames offers “a handful of recipes that take sugar and spice to a whole new level,” while Gulps for Guys promises “literature’s most savory stories…stirred into over two dozen recipes” (more on this gender split later). Part 3, Bevvies for Book Club offers seven recipes that serve six to twelve people. Part 4, Refreshments for Recovering Readers gives eight mocktail options for those not of legal age, non-drinkers, etc. Part 5, Bar Bites for Book Hounds, will satisfy your need for niblets to go along with your drinks. The end of the book has simple single or group drinking games and metric conversions.
The recipes each have a blurb relating the concoction to its book counterpart. For example, “A Cocktail of Two Cities” has gin and champagne, symbolizing the two cities in the novel A Tale of Two Cities: London and Paris. The booze-free beverages based on children’s books sound delicious as well (except for White Tang, which sounds like an upset stomach waiting to happen). The Bar Bites are simple food, savory and sweet, to pair with your drink of choice. There are illustrations throughout, often humorous, relating to the drink themes.
Back to categorizing drinks for “Dames” and drinks for “Guys.” Full disclosure, the designations put me off from the get-go and I went in expecting the worst from it. “Here’s sweet girly drinks for the ladies, and here are a bunch of different beers, whiskeys and other hard liquor on the rocks for the dudes!” This wound up not being the case, which is even more baffling, honestly. The Drinks for Dames promise to bring sugar and spice while the Gulps for Guys profess to offer savory selections. “Okay,” I thought. “I’ll tally how many drinks in each section fit into sweet, spicy, and savory flavor profiles.” Here’s what I came up with:
Dames: 13 sweet, 4 spice, 6 tart, 2 savory
Guys: 17 sweet, 4 spice, 4 tart, 0 savory
I qualified “spice” drinks as having nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and anise flavorings and savory as being salty and vegetable-based. As you can see, the Guys drinks beat the girls in the Sweet category and had absolutely NO savory drinks in my opinion.
So why separate the drinks into gendered categories based on sweetness? I thought that maybe the books the Dames drinks are based on might have strong female characters, and the Guys drinks might be based on books with heavy male influence. This was true for the Guys, with drinks based on a ton of Hemingway novels, Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Flies, and other masculine themed novels. On the Dames side…I was left wanting. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret are all obviously female-driven novels. Romeo and Juliet, The Joy of Sex, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Definitely not female focused. I guess the author was trying to go for old-fashioned kitsch, but it fell flat with me.
Besides that, I enjoyed the book. The blurbs for each recipe refreshed details from books I haven’t read since high school, and piqued my interest in some of the profiled classics I have yet to read. The design of the book itself is attractive. It is a small book with a hard cover in tan and deep navy blue. Vintage style font and flourishes adorn the cover and endsheets. It would look distinguished on a shelf.
Points for concept, design, and variety. Demerit for the confusing men’s drinks vs. women’s drinks thing.
Rating: 4 out of 5 of those little Hawaiian drink umbrellas