Whether it’s a book with cocktail recipes or a story about happy hours—we’ll take these reads on the rocks, please.
Drinks in Literature:
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
The bestselling novel about a young woman’s coming-of-age, set against the glitzy, grimy backdrop of New York’s most elite restaurants—Now a STARZ Original Series.
Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job as a “backwaiter” at a celebrated downtown Manhattan restaurant. What follows is the story of her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. As her appetites awaken—for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging—Tess finds herself helplessly drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle.
“Smart, delicious . . . A sexy, sweaty book of sensory overload.” —The Washington Post
From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein
In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein is working five part-time jobs and just scraping by when a posting on Craigslist lands her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate D.C. outsider, she joins the elite team who accompany the president wherever he goes, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forges friendships with a dynamic group of fellow travelers—young men and women who, like her, leave their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president.
Against the backdrop of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and, in the process, discovering her voice.
“Aptly dubbed The West Wing meets Devil Wears Prada.” —Paul Begala, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“From the Corner of the Oval swaps policy for good old-fashioned workplace drama . . . There are countless flights on Air Force One, late nights at four-star hotel bars in far-flung locations, and a bravely honest retelling of her workplace affair.” —Entertainment Weekly
Three Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell
In 1958, Greenwich Village buzzes with beatniks, jazz clubs, and new ideas—the ideal spot for three ambitious young people to meet. Cliff Nelson, the son of a successful book editor, is convinced he’s the next Kerouac, if only his father would notice. Eden Katz dreams of being an editor but is shocked when she encounters roadblocks to that ambition. And Miles Tillman, a talented black writer from Harlem, seeks to learn the truth about his father’s past, finding love in the process. Though different from one another, all three share a common goal: to succeed in the competitive and uncompromising world of book publishing. As they reach for what they want, they come to understand what they must sacrifice, conceal, and betray to achieve their goals, learning they must live with the consequences of their choices.
Here Kitty Kitty by Jardine Libaire
A novel of New York by the critically acclaimed author of White Fur, Here Kitty Kitty is an unforgettable portrait of a woman finding her way at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Lee is at a tender and dangerous breaking point: she’s not a kid anymore but still acting like one. She wants to be an artist, but her rent-paying SoHo restaurant job has taken over, and the late nights at strip clubs and afterhours joints have gone from joyful and crazy to just plain crazy. She’s not alone among the chaotic souls of late-90s Williamsburg, Brooklyn—we root for her to grow up but she avoids reality, burying her fears in vintage Dior dresses, bad cocaine, cheeseburgers, and whiskey.
Things slide downhill when she accepts money from her older boyfriend Yves, something she swore she’d never do, until she was being evicted. Meanwhile, Kelly—a new bartender with homemade tattoos and a murky past—shows up on the scene.
The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.
But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right? Well, yes and no . . .
Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.
Shark Drunk by Morten Stroksnes
The Lofoten islands in Norway are as isolated and forbidding as they are majestic. In this true story, two friends, the author and the eccentric artist Hugo Aasjord, set out onto the icy waters surrounding the islands. Their quest: to pursue the infamous Greenland shark—a massive creature that can grow to twenty-six feet in length and more than a ton in weight—from a tiny rubber boat. But the shark is not known for its size alone: its meat contains a toxin that, when consumed, has been known to make people drunk and hallucinatory.
Together, the two men tackle existential questions, survive the world’s most powerful maelstrom, and, yes, get drunk, as they attempt to understand the ocean from every possible angle, drawing on poetry, science, history, ecology, mythology, and their own, sometimes intoxicated, observations.
“Rich and fascinating . . . Morten Strøksnes’s clever trick is to remind us for one last time that the catching of the big fish is the least important part of the story.”—The Wall Street Journal
Burning Down George Orwell’s House by Andrew Ervin
A darkly comic novel about advertising, truth, single malt, Scottish hospitality—or lack thereof—and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Ray Welter, who was until recently a highflying advertising executive in Chicago, has left the world of newspeak behind. He decamps to the isolated Scottish Isle of Jura in order to spend a few months in the cottage where George Orwell wrote most of his seminal novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Ray is miserable, and quite prepared to make his troubles go away with the help of copious quantities of excellent scotch.
But a few of the local islanders take a decidedly shallow view of a foreigner coming to visit in order to sort himself out, and Ray quickly finds himself having to deal with not only his own issues but also a community whose eccentricities are at times amusing and at others downright dangerous. Also, the locals believe—or claim to believe—that there’s a werewolf about, and against his better judgment, Ray’s misadventures build to the night of a traditional, boozy werewolf hunt on the Isle of Jura on the summer solstice.
“A whisky-soaked hoot worth hollering about.” —The Austin Chronicle
Women’s Libation! by Merrily Grashin
The perfect mix of punny humor, feminist verve, and practical instruction, Women’s Libation! is a cocktail guide for the lady who likes to shake things up (and not just her martinis). In it, Brooklyn-based illustrator and long-time bartender Merrily Grashin toasts the feminist heroes who’ve come before us and the social movements that have helped shape us, honoring each with a delicious, imaginative cocktail. With new twists on classic cocktails as well as inventive new libations, Grashin’s recipes will educate you as you imbibe, including such gems as Joan of Arc & Stormy, Rosé the Riveter, and Mosc-N.O.W. Mule.
Summer Cocktails by Maria del Mar Sacasa; photographed by Tara Striano
One hundred seasonal recipes for punches and pitchers, frosty drinks, classics and throwbacks, and more.
Whether you’re lounging by the pool, cooking over a grill, or relaxing in the hammock, you need a great drink. And with Summer Cocktails, María del Mar Sacasa and Tara Striano will help you discover your favorite fair-weather friends, from Peachy Keen Punch to Ginger-Lemongrass Piña Colada. Craft your beverages from the bottom up with underpinnings straight from your summer garden, including Strawberry-Rosemary Shrub, Rhubarb Syrup, or Tomatillo and Coriander Tequila.
36 Bottles of Wine by Paul Zitarelli
Too much wine? Not last night, but at the wine store where it’s bewildering to choose something good. In this friendly guide, a wine expert curates a shortlist of 36 bottles to try (3 varieties per month—a red, a white, plus something else like a sparkling or rose) and explains in an accessible, humorous style what and who makes each worth drinking. In addition, 30 recipes for monthly meals connect seasonal food to wine, composing beautiful sensory experiences. This book proves you don’t need an encyclopedia when a handpicked selection delivers a world of wine.