A few weeks ago we asked you for original recipes for cocktails inspired by works of literature. More than 100 entries came in, like the Wasteland (12 ounces of vodka, 1 garbage can), the Sloe-lita (gin-based, naturally), and several versions of a Tequila Mockingbird.
The judge of our contest is equal parts lit and liquor: Rosie Schaap is a poet, a bartender, and the "Drink" columnist for the New York Times Magazine. Her upcoming memoir is Drinking with Men. Kurt Andersen met up with Schaap at Ward III, a bar in lower Manhattan. Schaap picked The Age of Innocence as the winner of our challenge, submitted by Brett Elms of Brooklyn.
Video: how to mix an Age of Innocence
Schaap was impressed with how Elms included both American and French ingredients to reflect the settings in Edith Wharton's novel, and she likes the aesthetics – crÃ¨me de violette gives it a silvery purplish color. "It looks very girly," admits Schaap, "but it's a pretty tough drink." Kurt agrees: "If I finished that, my day would be done."
The Age of InnocenceBrett Elms – Brooklyn, New York
2oz Navy Strength Gin 1/2 oz crÃ¨me de violette 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc Few drops of Green Chartreuse
Add Chartreuse to a cocktail saucer, swirl and dump. Combine other ingredients over ice in a cocktail strainer. Shake vigorously and strain into glass. Garnish with an edible flower.
Like the social atmosphere in New York during the period in which this novel is set, this cocktail seems delicate and refined on the outside but is pure booze under the surface.
Schaap's pick for runner-up is also based on a novel by an American woman, published just two years before Wharton's. But My Antonia couldn't be more different in setting and tone. The cocktail's warm orange hue, she thinks, "suggests the burnished fields of wheat" of Willa Cather's 19th-century Nebraska. It reminds Kurt of one of the book's memorable images, of a sunset seen through those fields. "This has a very sunset-y quality," he notes, sipping gingerly: like the winner, it's pretty, but packs a wallop.
My AntoniaSusan Steinway – Cambridge, Massachusetts
1 1/2 oz rye whiskey (representing Nebraska) 1 oz Slivovitz (representing Bohemia) homemade if possible to represent the pioneering spirit Dash of bitters Splash of honey
Mix together with ice and shake vigorously, pour into one of those glasses (coupé?) that are wide, like the prairie.
â?? There are dozens more recipes for you to try – see all of the entries here.
Video: Rosie Schaap makes the winning cocktail
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