There’s nothing like mild intoxication to make even the dullest Russian novel seem vast and brilliantly entertaining.
I recommend reading Tolstoy aloud in your best Russian accent and then re-reading that same part out loud with your best Kentucky accent, recording it all, and playing it back a week later in the privacy of your bathroom. Because of the acoustics.
But the enduring question: with what does one refresh to best reflect the read?
Best Brews for your Best Books
Recipe: Simmer cheap, fruity, red table wine with orange zest, some sugar, a cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, allspice, and a big ol’ splash of brandy.
The Sun Also Rises and Mojitos
A life of love affairs, siestas, and bull running seem perfectly attainable after a few of Heminway’s signature majitos. They may come from Cuba, but rum flows just as freely in Paris and Spain.
Recipe: Muddle (yes, you must muddle) fresh mint leaves and some lime and some sugar in the bottom of a glass. Add ice, pour in the rum, and top off with some fizzy water.
The Long Goodbye and Gimlets
Recipe: “Half gin, half Rose’s lime juice, and nothing else.”
The Sound and the Fury and Mint Juleps
Nothing says the South like a mint julep. Before you know it, you’ll be wearing big hats, find yourself inexplicably attending horse races, and uttering such idiomatic aphorisms as “all over Creation.”
Recipe: Stir together a whole bunch of mint, sugar, bourbon and water. Start sipping.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Sonny Boys
It turns out Carson McCullers was never really sober (ever) and you don’t have to be, either! By disguising her boozy beverage in a thermos, she could tipple away all day while writing.
Recipe: Blend hot tea and however much sherry you can stand. Extra points for authenticity if you claim “it’s just tea.”
The Great Gatsby and a Gin Rickey
Roar away your own version of the 20s with Nick, Daisy, Tom, Jay & the gang. I can guarantee you that they will all be (albeit fictionally) as drunk as you for at least 60% of the novel, and F. Scott himself was known as the original gin-soaked prankster.
Recipe: In a tall glass, combine lime, lots of gin and some seltzer. Yes, it’s nearly exactly the same as a gin and tonic.
Factotum and Cheap Red Wine
It has oft been said that wine drunks are the trickiest of them all. Feeling a bit “Method”? Sink into the inevitable depression of Henry Chinaski – but snap out of it when you hit the last page. The alternative is everlasting, Bukowski-style gloom.
Recipe: All the red wine you can get your hands on. It doesn’t get much easier than this.
For booze based on the brilliant (yet alcohol-soaked) minds of your favorite writers, check out What to Booze While You Peruse, Part 2.