I am honored once again to be a part of the Deschutes Public Library’s Novel Idea Program. Just what is A Novel Idea (other than just another novel idea!)? It is one of the smartest library programs I’ve ever heard of. Every year Deschutes Public Library chooses one book and then spends a month bringing that book to life in every dimension imaginable. They will hold discussion groups about the book, show movies and documentaries that pertain to the genre or era of the book, encourage reading of similar books, have storytellers tell their tales related to themes in the book, invite the author to speak about his/her book, and lastly have a food and cocktail demonstration pertaining to the book’s genre. This year the book is Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, which is a post-prohibition tale of two young women, Katey and Eve, finding their way in New York City Society in 1938. Both girls fall for a dashing young banker named Tinker Grey and throughout the year they both have their chances with him, usually eased with a cold gin martini. As this novel centers around a few central characters, I thought it would be fun to name the cocktails after them – so we have the Tinker Grey Toddy and the Miss Kontent (pronounced Kahn TENT). As Mr. Grey is warming and cordial – so is his cocktail. (As a small trivial note to those who have read the book, I also chose tea to work with since when Katey and Anne Grandin make amends over their relationship with Tinker they do so over a couple of cups of hot tea. Other than gin and bourbon, tea is the only other liquid that the characters imbibe!)
The Tinker Grey Toddy
In order to make the Tinker Grey Toddy, you will need to infuse a bottle of Crater Lake Vodka with earl grey tea bags (found at nearly every grocer). Place three tea bags in one bottle (750 ml) overnight. No need to try to remove them, as they might break in the process and blight your bottle of vodka. (If you just would like to make a smaller batch the tea bag to vodka ratio is one tea bag to one cup (eight ounces) of vodka.
In a mug or other type of glass made for hot drinks, please add
3 teaspoons honey
2 ounces lemon juice (the juice from one lemon)
2 ounces Earl-grey infused vodka
4 ounces of boiling hot water
Stir all of the ingredients together and enjoy. If one wishes, add a tad of half-and-half or milk after mixing.
a little side note :: What is a hot toddy? The hot toddy is one of the most loosely defined cocktails needing only to contain a spirit, a sweetener, and a warm base. Toddies can be made from tea, coffee, apple cider, sugar, syrup, brandy, bourbon, or rum. But the most traditional toddies are made from honey, lemon, hot water, and bourbon. Want to know the history of the hot toddy? Click here
Everyone in the book has a penchant for gin and it is on very rare occasion that everyone isn’t enjoying a cold gin martini. I thought it would be fun to play around with the gin martini, making it a little more feminine in honor of the beautiful and daring Miss Kontent.
The Miss Kontent
To make the Miss Kontent you will need to first make rose-petal syrup.
How to Make Rose Petal Syrup :::::::
This syrup has just a hint of rose petal flavor to it, as petals often have a lot of tannins in them and can make syrups bitter. Rose Petal Syrup 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1/8 cup rose petals (Rose petals can be found at most herbalists and often times you can find rose hip tea bags at the grocer or at a health food store. If you use the tea bags, the ratio is one tea bag to 8 ounces of water.) Bring to a boil, remove from heat. Strain off rose petals and allow to cool. I recommend making this syrup the night before if possible (especially if you are making a larger batch), that way it will have plenty of time to cool.
In a shaker, mix the following:
2 ounces of Cascade Mountain Gin
1 ounce Rose-Petal Syrup
1 ounce Grapefruit Juice
1 Splash of lemon
1.5 ounce of Soda water
Add ice to the shaker, shake and strain into a cocktail glass or a coup.
If you are daring – this cocktail tastes delicious with an egg white. Just add the egg white to the mixture, shake without ice and then add ice. A gorgeous frothiness will brighten the flavor and create a silkiness that is very becoming.