Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Advil Calendar 2013 Day WHAT?: NANCY DREW TURNS 21 EDITION

"Are ya cold, Raylan?"
I was going to putz out on this day, I swear I was. I've written over 16 thousand words in the past week, including a longish post on my most memorable reading experiences of the past 12 months and a REALLY long set of notes for a radio segment about Great Holiday Gift Book Ideas For Children and I was fried.

Good for nothing but watching the episodes of Justified where Raylan gets his shirt off.

But then I posted an announcement of the radio segment (listen for me on WYPR 88.1 FM, Marylands NPR station, somewhere between 9:30 and 10am today) on Facebook, mentioning that I would be doing pairings of children's fiction with nonfiction and... something else, god I'm so tired, and my friend Leslie commented that she was glad I'd said what I'd be pairing the novels with, otherwise she'd have thought I was pairing like Harriet the Spy with Jack and Coke.



Thanks, neighbor! I'll save you a pig cheek just for that!


For example! That poor peddler in Caps for Sale is going to sit down with a nice meaty glass of red workman's wine as soon as he gets those damn monkeys off his back and makes it to a cafe.

The Grinch gets his chill on with a Midori Sour (Midori, vodka, sour mix, and Sprite - we don't bother making artisan cocktails for that guy, I don't give a shit how big his heart got).

Katniss drinks moonshine.

Mary Poppins takes a po-faced glass of sherry from time to time but her modern counterpart Nanny Piggins will have a Cake Batter Martini, thank you very much (cheezus crust, that looks nasty) - in a pint glass if you please, or better yet a quart jar if you've got one. Maybe just a mixing bowl. And keep 'em comin'.

Mrs. Frisby, once she's gotten all of her children out of harm's way, takes a drop of St. Germain elderflower liqueur in her chamomile tea - and that, friends, is a lovely little hot drink, as long as you don't mind drinking with a mouse.

Tiffany Aching of Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men YA series is spiritual sister to Stephanie Edgley (sp. yes I know fuck off) from the Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy. They are going to sit down in a picturesque pub in Cornwall (splitting the difference - Tiffany's from Scotland and Stephanie's from Ireland) and trade thrilling tales over pints of real ale. They're realists after all, even if they routinely practice magic and talk to dead people.

Some characters, though, I'll take to the bar myself.

Fern, from Charlotte's Web is someone I'd like to check in with once she's old enough to knock a couple back. She will have grown up with fairly simple tastes, so for her, we'll resurrect a really neat summery ice tea cocktail that I came up with myself:

Tracy's Birthday Ice Tea
2 oz gin
4 oz hibiscus tea, cold
about a teaspoon mint simple syrup
garnish with frozen blueberries
Fern will update me on how the farm's been making out ever since she took over from her dad (massive coronary, it was so sad). It's actually going really well - the stand at the farmer's market attracted the attention of a couple of influential restauranteurs, and when other farmers noticed her sudden cachet as THE provider of fancy organic produce and local cheese, she found herself giving classes and speaking at conferences and now she's writing a manual for reverse engineering a modern, chemically dependent farm into something more sustainable and in tune with the seasons. She's got a title: Farm Detox.

She tells me all about crop rotation, chicken tractors, and beneficial insects while I bide my time waiting to ask if Templeton is still around giving her grief.

I read Code Name Verity earlier this year and after I finished it - and wiped my eyes and blew my nose - I wanted nothing more than to sit down with Verity and Maddie, the teenage war heroes of that book, and ply them with liquor (not difficult - they're already drinking a bit in the book) until they spill all their stories and get weepy and then sing bawdy RAF songs.

Wartime privations being what they were, I'll want to honor them with the most luxurious, decadent cocktail that I can find, and that's - coincidentally - the Winston, named after you guessed it, the old cigar-chomper himself. It's crazy expensive because it's made with cognac that's like five jillion years old, plus some other stuff that I don't even understand - Grand Marnier Quintessence, Chartreuse Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolonge. And then it's dusted with chocolate nutmeg VICTORY.

Here's another pair who could use a stiff drink - Hansel and Gretel. Not those cake-sniffers featured in a million syrupy cartoons, but the Hansel and Gretel who hit the road fleeing from homicidal relatives and could-be relatives in the first book of our pal Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm trilogy.

For those two, I'm going to want something sweet and maybe golden, but with a kick like a hammer. I mentioned the Widow's Kiss in my last post, and that sounds suitably ominous. Let's go with that.

The Widow’s Kiss
1 1/2 ounces calvados
3/4 ounce yellow Chartreuse
3/4 ounce Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
I've seen recipes for this joint topped with a frothed-up eggwhite, and I like that for Hansel and Gretel too.

The dad in King Neil's Fortunately, the Milk gets a drink as a reward for dealing with aliens, pirates, an intellectual stegosaurus with a bit of an attitude, and "wumpires" all so that he can get the milk back home for the kids to put on their cereal. If I were him, I might see to their breakfast, send 'em off to school, shove that goddamn milk into the very back of the fridge, and then collapse in an armchair with one - or several - of these:

Well ok first he'd have to make the Earl Grey syrup. But really, takes 5 minutes.

Rainmaker Cocktail (Claire Lassam of Hello Giggles)
2 oz gin
1 oz tea syrup
1 oz lemon juice
soda water (Optional)
lemon peel for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and mix all ingredients together. Shake until chilled.
Pour over fresh ice. Give it a lemon peel for fancy.
Earl Grey Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp Earl Grey tea
In a small pot bring water and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat, add in tea and stir. Let sit for 2 minutes, then strain.

I love Zelly Fried, the protagonist of Erica Perl's When Life Gives You O.J. and Aces Wild. She has some weird (but loving) parental and grandparental mishegas to put up with, and when she finally grows up and goes off to college (I'm rooting for a liberal arts college somewhere in the East!) she is going to want to splash out a little.

But just a little. She's a good girl with a good head on her shoulders. Zelly is going to grow up to be a Greyhound girl. That's right - a sunny cocktail, with vitamin C (but not OJ, she is done with OJ) and lots of ice so she doesn't get schnockered right away.
Greyhound for Zelly
2 oz gin
4 oz grapefruit juice
You can make a Greyhound with either vodka or gin, but I see Zelly drinking gin. When she gets a little older, she's going to realize that this drink gets even better with just a little splash of maraschino liqueur, and all of her friends will think she is very sophisticated.

And of course I'm going to sit down with Claudia from E.L. Konigsberg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. That book changed my life - but I'll try not to tell her that, at least not until after we've sampled our way through a flight of punches and half the cocktail menu at The Dead Rabbit. We picked The Dead Rabbit because we are both suckers for New York history and because it's not that far from Les Halles, and we figured if the financial district crowd at Dead Rabbit pissed us off too badly (Claudia still gets pissed off pretty easily) we could go there. 

Claudia will be working in publishing, of course - at Rizzoli or maybe Abrams. She got her start as an intern copyediting exhibition catalogues and now she helps develop interior design books, which makes her CRAYZAY.

Her brother Jamie's a lawyer, of course, and he shows up midway through our third hour of drinking, reminds Claud that she has to work tomorrow, and graciously picks up the check.

Now I'm all happy, taking that little imagination journey. That was so much fun I think I'll do it again next Tuesday - so shoot me a comment or an email if you think of someone from children's or YA literature that we should get a drink with - including any suggestions of what cocktail he or she might like or deserve, if you have an idea.

If you want to hear me on the radio, the audio is online, along with my notes. And you are never going to believe who is joining us for EXCITING GUEST WEDNESDAY tomorrow! Hoo-hoo!! I cannot wait to read this!