Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

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Jane O’Hanlon is here with 3 Ingredient Cocktails!

The Romantic Allure of Cocktails and the Intoxicating World of Romance

By Jane O’Hanlon a/k/a J.K. O’Hanlon


After almost decades of writing about regulations and arcane contact provisions as a corporate lawyer, a sexier siren of the pen seduced me. Romance. Hot romance. Hot tamale romance. Then, just when the craft of fiction writing started to gel, an even more seductive path distracted me. Cocktails. Easy cocktails. Sinfully delicious cocktails.

My third career started one day when I asked my man to make me a cocktail. His eyes got round and beads of sweat pearled on his forehead. Here was one of the most competent human beings I’ve ever known stressed out at the thought of making a drink!  I assured him he’d be able to find something simple in one of the several dozen recipe books on the shelf by the bar. Thirty minutes later he came up from the bar empty handed and frustrated.

The gist of his explanation:  It was too hard. There were too many recipes to choose from. Too many esoteric ingredients. And he wasn’t sure he could substitute a gin for the one specified in the recipe without ruining the drink. Perhaps the new mixology had become so complex in a quest for authenticity and innovation that making a drink was intimidating and confusing, and required hundreds of dollars in obscure liquors. After scouring the internet and bookstores in vain for a basic book for my hero, I surrendered.

I’d just have to make all the drinks. Luckily, my guy threw down the gauntlet. “You should just write a simple cocktail book. You are a writer, aren’t you?” What heroine lets that kind of challenge go untouched? Six months later, 3 Ingredient Cocktails debuted.

Now when I tell people I write fiction (romance) and non-fiction (cocktails), they often frown and ask, “What do those things have to do with each other?!” At first glance, not much, although revising a manuscript for the umpteenth time can drive one to drink! On a closer look, I discovered cocktails are romantic and romance books are intoxicating.  I hadn’t given up romance writing for booze blogging; I just discovered how two of my passions intertwine!

Both romance and cocktails follow a general pattern.  We all know the boy-meets-girl story and that it typically unfolds in similar ways in a romance book. The same goes for cocktails. One type of booze comprises the base of the drink, while a few other modifying ingredients jazz it up.  But, no two romances are the same, and neither are any two cocktails. The magic an author weaves into her story with unique characters and situations transforms an age-old story into something special.  Similarly, changing the base alcohol, but keeping all the other ingredients the same creates a wildly different drink. For example, if you change gin to cognac, but keep the orange liqueur and lemon juice, you go from a summery White Lady to an autumnal Side Car.

The bottom line is that with both romance and cocktailing, something exists for everyone.  The Petit Fours and Hot Tamales group exemplifies the range of romance writers’ and readers’ tastes. A hero’s chaste graze of his hand along a heroine’s arm might send  shivers up your spine. Others prefer to close the bedroom door and turn the heat past the melting point. All of it is romantic, just different.  The cocktails in my newly released non-fiction book, 3 Ingredient Cocktails, range from a masculine boozy Manhattan to a silky smooth Mochacino.  Not everyone (well, other than me) will like every recipe, but anyone who enjoys a drink will find something to enjoy.

Finally, the reason I love romance, and why it dominates the fiction market, is that a happy ending brings joy to our lives. The power of love shines through every romance I read and gives me hope and relief in a world that can sometimes be too harsh.  While I do not advocate cocktailing to escape reality, enjoying a perfectly mixed drink joyfully stimulates the senses the same way that a well-written scene takes us to another place.

So, when you are ready for a little rest and relaxation, pick a simple cocktail to craft, sit back in your favorite chair, and open up your most dog-eared beloved book. Where does it take you? Are you bold in both your booze and books? Or would you rather spice it up on paper, but stay sweet on the palate? Have you read a particularly vivid scene featuring cocktails or other alcoholic beverages? Does having a certain drink transport you to place or bring a special hero to mind?

I hope you share some of your own experiences with me here as well as on my blog at 

Thanks for inviting me over for the day. For all of my Petit Four and Hot Tamale friends and their fans, here are two simple cocktails made just for you.



The Petit Four

  •  3 ounces Vanilla Vodka
  • 2 ounces Half-and-half
  • 1 ounce Amaretto Liqueur

Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass.


The Hot Tamale

  •  3 ounces gin or vodka (whichever you prefer)
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ½ ounce juice from jar of hot peppers

Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a hot pepper or a chipotle stuffed olive.


And the best part is that one of our lucky commenters today will win a copy of Jane’s new book !!!!   You can try all the recipes and have a very Merry Christmas!!!


Laura Russell - December 14, 2012 - 2:34 am

Hi Jane,
I totally get that romance and cocktails go together. And I love the anxiety over too many ingredients that led you to this great idea.
Happy Holidays!

Mary Preston - December 14, 2012 - 3:45 am

I’ve never made a cocktail, but with only 3 ingredients I can’t go wrong.

Marilyn Baron - December 14, 2012 - 5:39 am

I love your post. I’ve never made a cocktail but I think your idea of reducing the ingredients to three is a great concept. And I love the cover of your book,Your line about needing a cocktail after revising a book is certainly true. I heard your TV interview yesterday and you were fantastic. The Petit Four drink you concocted for us is perfect. My favorite drinks are amaretto sour or piña colada so sweet is more my thing. Thanks so much for blogging with us and good luck with your book.

Pam Asberry - December 14, 2012 - 8:39 am

Thanks for blogging with us today, Jane. And for designing signature drinks just for us. I am a wine drinker myself but I think I will give that Petit Four a try the next time my girlfriends and I get together. Continued success!

Sandra Elzie - December 14, 2012 - 9:10 am

Thanks so much for joining us today. Very timely post…what with all the celebrating and entertaining going on during this month.
Oh, and what a great Christmas gift idea for someone who is hard to buy for! Like Marilyn, I’m more of a sweet-drink girl, but we had such fun trying out your recipes at M&M that I know your book will be filled with great recipes.

I love the two signature drinks…guess I’ll be trying them both to see which I like best, even though I write Petit Fourish. (g)

I wish you great success with your book…and congrats on the TV interview!

Susan - December 14, 2012 - 9:47 am

Hey Jane,
So good to see you. I love this idea for a book. It sounds super fun. Thanks for the special recipe in the blog honor. They are great.

C.E. Hart - December 14, 2012 - 10:36 am

As a sweet-drink girl (like Sandra) the Petit Four cocktail sounds fabulous. With Amaretto you can’t go wrong. ;)

Please enter me in the 3 Ingredient Cocktail giveaway. I like things easy, so this is perfect for me. ;) haha

Linsey Lanier - December 14, 2012 - 11:52 am

Welcome, welcome, Jane. So thrilled to have you here today! Congratulation on your book!

I haven’t had a cocktail in ages, but I like the sweet ones, too. Kahlua is probably my current fav. So nice of you to create two drinks just for us. How cool!

J Perry Stone - December 14, 2012 - 12:52 pm

I just read the Hot Tamale recipe and my mouth started watering!!

I NEED that in my hand tonight. Now I have to call my husband to see if he can pick up dry vermouth on his way home tonight.

Carol Burnside - December 14, 2012 - 1:24 pm

Dang, both those cocktails sound gooood, but I think the Hot Tamale will be a problem unless I can find dry vermouth in a dry county! You’re a genius with this stuff. So glad to see this post ‘cuz I meant to get a copy of your book for my daughter for CMas and totally spaced it. Will have to correct that error!

Jane - December 14, 2012 - 4:48 pm

Thanks for all the comments! OK — dry vermouth is pretty standard — get yourself a little bottle because you never need much of it. For all of you Kahlua lovers out there: use equal parts vodka, Kahlua and any chocolate liqueur and you will be in heavan. And, last but not least: DO NOT FEAR THE COCKTAIL! Be adventurous and try something new.

Maxine - December 14, 2012 - 5:17 pm

Hi Jane, I love your drinks! Can’t wait to try both the Petit Four and the Hot Tamale. I am ordering some copies of your book in just a minute. I knew I wanted to give some as gifts, but haven’t “shopped” yet. Thank you for stopping by and I love your ThirstyJane site.

Sia Huff - December 14, 2012 - 8:16 pm

Great post, Jane. I think cocktails and romance go very well together. And totally agree “…romance books are intoxicating.”
Looking forward to getting your book and learning some new drink recipes. Thanks for blogging with us today.
Wishing you many sales.

nickisalcedo - December 15, 2012 - 1:16 am

Book is beautiful and so are you. Thanks for putting some spirits into our lives!

Jane O'Hanlon - December 15, 2012 - 9:42 am

Maxine, Let me know whether you like the Petit Four or Hot Tamale cocktail best! I’m a Hot Tamale girl, both in my booze and my books, but I appreciate and enjoy the Petit Fours in life, too! thanks to all who have checked out my book. Send me a tweet at @ThirstyJane with your favorite drink. Next week, revisions to romance MS. What should I have ready to drink?

Anna Doll - December 27, 2012 - 12:21 pm

Awesome! I want this book…to keep, and give away! Great idea, Jane

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