There’s only one thing better than curling up by the fire with an amazing book, and that’s curling up by the fire with an amazing book in one hand and a well-mixed cocktail in the other. (Unless you’re a child, in which case, you may have a mug of warm milk to pair with your Goodnight, Moon audiobook.) But what exactly should you drink with your favorite novel? It’s a complicated question. After all, the cocktail that pairs perfectly with 100 Years of Solitude does not necessarily jive well with Animorphs.
While there have been hundreds of pieces written about famous authors’ drinks of choice, the following drink/book pairings are a little less literal and a little more intuitive. Don’t ask yourself, “WWHDTO?” (What Would Hemingway Drink Ten Of?). Instead, ask yourself, “What kind of drink feels believable within the world of the novel? Which cocktail will make me feel like I’m truly inside these characters’ minds?” Turn the page, have another round, and you might start believing you’re actually there.
If you’re reading: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
…you should drink: whiskey from a flask
It’s been a long, hard day of walking in the sun. Your dogs sure are beat. Lay down on the good, cool sand—or sit in an armchair if you’re a rich person—and take a swig from your flask every few pages. Burns good, don’t it?
If you’re reading: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
…you should drink: a snifter of Crème Yvette
Is there anything more lovely than the montage where young Mary gets healthier and happier as she cares for her secret garden? Accompany the floral delight of these pages with a few sips of an obscure liqueur called Creme Yvette, made from violet petals, blackberries, raspberries, cassis, and wild strawberries. The liqueur was brought back to life in 2009 after 40 years of obscurity, kind of like Mrs. Craven’s lovely rose-drenched sanctuary.
If you’re reading: The Joke, by Milan Kundera
…you should drink: a Tom Collins
This is a novel about the ways in which jokes affect people’s lives, for better or for worse. Guess what the Tom Collins cocktail is named after? A hilarious (mean) little 1874 prank, wherein one party guest would frantically ask another, “Have you seen Tom Collins? He’s talking about you behind your back!” The offended guest would rush off to find this gossipy Tom fellow until someone finally told him there was nobody named Tom Collins at the party. Cue embarrassment—and drinking enough to take the pain away.
If you’re reading: Bad Feminist, by Roxanne Gay
…you should drink: a Cosmopolitan
In the introduction to Bad Feminist, Gay admits she is a feminist who “loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music she knows, she knows, is terrible for women.” What better way to embrace the inherent contradictions of, well, humanhood than by drinking one of the most cliché, girly, and yet inexplicably grownup drinks of all time?
If you’re reading: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
…you should drink: a Pillkaller
The Pillkaller is an East Prussian drink so obscure a quick Google search reveals entries only in German. The Hunger Games is a franchise so major a quick Google search reveals a Facebook page with 22,583,292 likes. But while you’re reading about the starvation of District 12, you’ll probably find yourself craving a snack. If hunger strikes, you’ll love the Pillkaller, which is a shot of liquor topped off with a slice of spicy sausage and a dollop of mustard.
If you’re reading: the Book of Revelations
…you should drink: a Last Word cocktail
Are you the type of person who likes to end things with a bang? The type of person whose entrances are flashy and whose exits are marked by beasts, apocalyptic horsemen, and the number 666? What you need is a chilled glass of Last Word (gin, green Chartreuse, and so much more), which will help you finish off your night as you finish off the book—with a lot of panache and an impeccable sense of narrative closure.
If you’re reading: Can’t and Won’t, by Lydia Davis
…you should drink: shots
Davis’ fiction is short and to the point and often kind of disorienting. As after a shot of expensive tequila, you’ll find yourself staggering around after finishing it, wondering how something so small can pack such a big punch.
If you’re reading: The Stranger, by Albert Camus
…you should drink: a liter of wine
You don’t get to be one of the numbest, most emotionally vacant characters in Western literature without dulling your senses a bit. And what better way to do that than to down a liter of wine, stumble out of the house, and get accidentally wrapped up in some shady business that will result in murder?
If you’re reading: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
…you should drink: a Corpse Reviver
Because you only live once—OR DO YOU?