[ Literary Libations ] ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company
Literary Libations(inspired by writers) Shadow Header Gif
When the weather outside is frightful, curling up with a book is so delightful! Lyricist Sammy Cahn may have suggested a toasty fire in his 1945 holiday hit, Let it Snow, but there’s more than one way to enjoy the warmth and security of home during the holidays. Picture yourself wrapped in a blanket, legs tucked up on a couch or chair, getting lost in the pages of a novel or memoir.

Whether you prefer a stirring romance, or a masterfully crafted whodunit that tickles “the little grey cells” (Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie), writers of all genres inspire us. Many also express enthusiasm for indulging in a variety of alcoholic beverages (on and off paper). Some of the best found in print appear below. But heed the words of the 17th century historian and writer Thomas Fuller; “Wine hath drowned more men than the sea.” In other words, enjoy these recipes in moderation. You want to revel in good cheer, not fall under the influence.

[ Literary Libations - Under The Table ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

a. under the table

Dorthy Parker:
The Collected Dorothy Parker
Known to friends as “Dot,” this wise-cracking satirist and poet gained wide popularity in the 1920s, during American’s prohibition era. In fact, two of her favorite speakeasies, in which she refined and unleashed her witty tongue, gave way to the construction of Rockefeller Center in NYC. Although she was known to sip Scotch (Johnny Walker, “neat”) from a teacup to hide the fact that she was consuming alcohol, she is credited, albeit erroneously, with giving the world the famous martini quatrain:

“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.”

This amusing prose is actually adapted from a piece published in 1959 in The Harlequin, a humor magazine founded by Thomas Jefferson and produced by the University of Virginia. How it came to be attributed to Mrs. Parker is anyone’s guess, save for the assertion that she was overheard to say aloud a variation of the last line in an elevator after leaving a party. Regardless of evidence (or the lack thereof), Parker fans are motivated to toast their favorite writer with a martini every year on her birthday (August 22nd). We suggest jazzing it up with herbs, flowers and spices.

the monterey bay martini
Our version of the herbal martini calls for dry gin infused with Cinnamon Apricot Tisane herbal tea blend, which features cinnamon chips, marigold flowers and dried apricot. Fill a quart-sized mason jar (or several) with gin, leaving an inch headspace at the top. Add 3 tablespoons of loose herbal tea and cover the jar with a lid. Let the infusion rest for 2-3 weeks, turning or gently shaking once a day to make certain the herbs are covered. Strain, reserving the flavored gin in a clean glass jar.

2 1/2 ounces infused gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth

Combine the infused gin and vermouth in a cocktail shaker filled with cracked ice. Stir for 30 seconds; strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a spiraled orange peel, if desired.

[ Literary Libations - Away with the Fairies ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

b. away with the fairies

William Shakespeare:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine."

Ah, true love...it’s as whimsical and illusionary as the wooded realm of fairies encountered in this story. While we are consoled with the adage that “The course of true love never did run smooth,” we can still count on true love winning out in the end. But take heart. Good William takes us on a journey in the form of a dream in which—just as in real life—all is not what it appears to be. As we “slumber,” we come to realize that lasting love and devotion only exists when “Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind...”

This fruity, colorful cocktail, inspired by “Shakespeare, Not Stirred,” is spirited enough to promote sweet dreams but, with moderation, you won’t end up away with the fairies (too tipsy to stay awake at the party).

sweet dreams
1 ounce lemon flavored vodka
1/4 ounce blue curacao
1/4 ounce prepared Avena Dream Tisane
3/4 ounce St. Germain elderflower liquor
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Prepare a strong tisane (steep 2 teaspoons herbal tea to 1 cup boiling water for 5 minutes); set aside to cool completely. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled halfway with cracked ice. Shake for 20 seconds; strain into a martini glass. Garnish with edible (pesticide-free) flowers, if you wish.

[ Literary Libations - Hair Of The Hound ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

c. hair of the hound

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
One of the first fictional detectives to appear in print (1887), Sherlock Holmes was held in high esteem for his deductive reasoning skills, often solving crimes for Scotland Yard from the comfort of his flat on London’s Baker Street. Assisted by his oft-times roommate, Dr. John Watson, the iconic character was also one of the first detectives, fictional or otherwise, to advance forensic science.

Holmes was a connoisseur of French wines and sipped brandy for medicinal purposes, while Watson preferred whiskey straight up. Being an expert in the behaviors of drinkers, however, sometimes gave the doctor an edge in solving crime, a complement to the detective’s cognitive abilities. Holmes may have commented on this crowd-pleasing punch with “It’s elementary” because it is simple and sweet, but he would not have said so to his sidekick. In fact, the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” doesn’t appear in any of the 56 short stories and four novels that feature Sherlock Holmes.

holmes & watson party punch
4 1/2 cups boiling water
6 tablespoons Cranberry Orange Tisane loose herbal tea
1/4 cup Turbinado sugar
4 1/2 cups cranberry juice

Combine the Cranberry Orange Tisane loose herbal tea and boiling water in a bowl. Add sugar; stir well to dissolve. Steep tisane for 5 minutes. Strain; set aside to cool completely. Add cranberry juice and stir. Transfer to a punch bowl; add ice cubes just before serving.

[ Literary Libations - Mud in Your Eye ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

d. mud in your eye

Edward Albee:
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
This screenplay, later adapted to film, is the work of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning American playwright Edward Albee. The title is a takeoff on the song Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? and a reference to the proclivity of American author, Virginia Woolf, to lay bare the truths people tend to fear. As such, it serves to make the level of marital discord between characters Martha and George abundantly clear, as the middle-aged couple warble the tune throughout the play to torture each other.

The dysfunctional and at times disturbing interactions between the pair is fueled by “hard” liqueur because, as George cautions about fancy cocktails, “cream is for coffee, lime juice for pies.” He also reminisces, however, that in their younger days Martha was fond of “real ladylike little drinkies,” before her taste ran to “rubbing alcohol.” One of her favorites was the Brandy Alexander, a drink so smooth that John Lennon compared it to a milkshake. Tip: Don’t skimp on the nutmeg.

big bad brandy alexander
1 1/2 ounces brandy
1 ounce heavy cream
1 ounce crème de cacao
Ground nutmeg

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled halfway with cracked ice. Shake for 10 seconds; strain into a cocktail glass. Serve with a sprinkling of ground nutmeg.

[ Literary Libations - Paint the Town Red ] ~ from Monterey Bay Spice

d. paint the town red

Truman Capote:
Breakfast at Tiffany's
This endearing tale, later destined to become a cinema classic, opens with Paul Varjak (aka Fred) the narrator of the story, consulting with bartender Joe Bell on the potential whereabouts of their mutual friend, Holly Golightly, a young country girl turned New York socialite who considered early morning window shopping on Fifth Avenue a sport. Joe, after producing evidence that she may be in Africa, cheered his disappointed inquisitor with, “Let me build you a drink. Something new. They call it a White Angel," he said, mixing one-half vodka, one-half gin, no vermouth.”

Although many scenes are generously splashed with champagne cocktails and Manhattans, no other boozy beverage described in this novella received so much attention as this version of the martini. We’ve modified the recipe just a bit, giving it a blush of pink and the subtle sweetness of elderflower.

audrey's angel face cocktail
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce dry gin
1/2 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1 ounce white grape juice (or white cranberry juice)
Dash of grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled halfway with cracked ice. Shake for 10 seconds; strain and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.