I'm Elyse. Some of my most vivid and cherished memories are around a table with friends and family, and I want that for you, too.
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Cocktails Inspired by Recent Reads
I love to read. As a kid, I would get caught sneaking into my closet to read after ‘lights out’—and I have continued my habit of night-time reading long into adulthood. But, between going to school and working at a museum, nonfiction has dominated my bookshelves for years. Even now, I am constantly on the hunt for cookbooks, food history books, and technique textbooks to up my food blogging game.
Last year, I realized that reading for pleasure had taken a backseat to reading for information and it massively bummed me out. So, I decided to set a goal for myself. Read 14 fiction books in 2022. It’s not an outlandish goal and still allows me time to dabble in nonfiction if needed, so I don’t feel like I’m giving up one for the other.
I’m already five books in and LOVING IT! I forgot how good it feels to be swept up in a story, reading late into the night because you just have to find out what happens next. If you feel like you’ve also forgotten how good it feels to be whisked away by a book or simply on the hunt for a great cocktail recipe, I decided to spread the love by creating a wee boozy book club.
Once a month, I’ll share a cocktail that I think is the perfect accompaniment to a recent read. Disclaimer: I am not qualified to deliver any meaningful analysis of a book. Plus, I would hate to spoil the plot for anyone. So, you will not find any of that here. Instead, I’ll give a quick synopsis and jump right into why I think the cocktail is a good fit, so you can get an idea of the book’s atmosphere.
About the Honeyed Harp Cocktail
This month’s cocktail is inspired by Sistersong. Written by Lucy Holland, Sistersong is a fantasy novel pulling from English folklore that explores the plight of three royal siblings. The Goodreads blurb does a great job of summarizing.
Sweet, herbaceous, and a little salty, the Honeyed Harp is similar to a smash—a cocktail made up of liquor, lemon, and syrup. Here, we’re using brandy, but a smooth whiskey would probably also be great. What really sets this drink apart in my opinion is the honey syrup. We are infusing our honey syrup with rosemary and adding a little bit of salt to really round out the flavors and balance the sweetness. The finished cocktail gives off the taste of mead—perfect for any western folklore fantasy book—while the rosemary, lemon, and salt elude to the forest setting and bittersweet moments that are sprinkled throughout.
Herby, sweet, and just a touch salty, this brandy cocktail has a beautiful depth of flavor—making it the perfect accompaniment to Sistersong. Quick tip! This recipe doubles well, so you can share with a sister 🙂
For the honey syrup:
1/2C honey (I used a Ventura-based avocado honey which worked great, but whatever honey you like the taste of will do.)
4 large sprigs of rosemary
1/2t – 3/4t kosher salt
For the cocktail:
2 oz brandy (If you have a honey brandy, even better, but both work. I used this one from Bear Valley)
.5 oz honey syrup
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz club soda
Make the honey syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the honey and water and heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the honey is fully incorporated.
Add the rosemary and allow the mixture to reach a simmer before turning off the heat. Allow the rosemary to steep for 10 minutes before removing the sprigs and adding 1/2t of kosher salt.
Stir the syrup and pour into an airtight container. Once cool, give it a taste test. If you want to add more salt, add the reserved 1/4t.
This mixture make 3/4C of syrup and can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Make the cocktail: To a shaker filled 3/4 of the way with ice, add the brandy, lemon juice, and honey syrup.
Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds.
Strain into a coup glass and top with club soda. Garnish with lemon peel and rosemary.