How to Make Lauren Groff and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Favorite Cocktails
(Scotch is not a cocktail)
As you may have heard, this Saturday, April 29th, is Independent Bookstore Day, a literary holiday that will be celebrated by hundreds of indie booksellers around the country. One of the exclusive Independent Bookstore Day goodies—which you can only get this weekend—is A Literary Cocktail Party, a book of cocktail recipes and stories from a selection of wonderful writers, including Meghan Daum, Min Jin Lee, Edan Lepucki, Anthony Marra, James Patterson, Emma Straub, Sloane Crosley—and of course Lauren Groff and Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose recipes we have excerpted below. For a little taste of things to come (sorry), read on.
Lauren Groff: Vodka Martini
I love a Tito’s vodka martini, vermouth wafted swiftly over the surface of the drink, with many extra olives. On Fridays, after my little boys have their piano lessons, we all go out together to a restaurant called The Top a few blocks from our house in Gainesville, Florida. I order one of these, and as soon as I have it in my hand, my whole body relaxes into the weekend. It’s a pure cold burst of relief.
On her first time: I used to drink only beer—I was an intern at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown one summer—then only wine, after I spent a year in France, and then only bourbon after a fellowship year in Louisville, when Pappy VanWinkles was easy to find and cheap-ish. But with kids, I needed something stronger, especially if I was saving up my drinks for Friday nights. I ordered my first vodka martini at The Top shortly after my first son was born, out of post-partum despair, and never looked back. We walk home.
a very cold martini glass, with a few drops of vermouth sprinkled in, then shaken out
6 big olives
Put vodka into a martini shaker with ice, shake for far longer than seems reasonable, pour into the glass, put olives in, drink half immediately, feel better about writing and life as you listen to your children fight in the opposite booth.
Viet Thanh Nguyen: The Sympathizer
Trying to pick my favorite cocktail is like trying to pick a favorite child. I love them all. My favorite drink is actually not a cocktail, but Scotch. The older the better. Unlike cocktails, Scotch is always reliable and not dependent on the talents of your bartender or mixologist. This is important when you, the writer, are alone at night after a long day of writing and want a quick solution to the problems of the world (or just your writing). My current favorite is Glenfiddich 18. Neat.
On his first time: My first Scotch was in Saigon, 2004, where one could buy bottles of Balvenie Doublewood for a very low price of about $33. I’ve never seen it again for such a bargain and had at least one bottle a week for the several months that I lived in Saigon. This was the beginning of my predilection for Scotch. As for Glenfiddich 18, it is a recent discovery.
If I have to give you a recipe for a cocktail, then of course I will provide you with the one for The Sympathizer, as concocted by Andrea Tetrick, book representative extraordinaire and a very early supporter of the novel. She served this at the book launch for the novel.
The Sympathizer mixture:
1 oz of the Sympathizer mixture and wait to top off with 2 oz of Champagne or sparkling wine