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 www.thirstyjane.com.
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!!!