Booktails from the Potions Library, with Mixologist Lindsay Merbaum
Let your spooky flag fly with a cocktail and Jen Fawkes’s delightfully strange stories in “Mannequin and Wife”
A carnival of strange delights awaits in Jen Fawkes’ Mannequin and Wife, a collection in which tender stories of taxidermy, talking piñatas, and sentient mannequins lay bare its characters’ loss, longing, and heartbreak. A distinct awareness of gender is omnipresent throughout the collection, as in the first story, “Sometimes, They Kill Each Other,” in which the battle for seniority among male corporate executives turns into literal dueling: “The first time we saw a man slain over a trifle, we were horror-stricken. The next time, too. But after months, then years, of dealing with executives, we found that though some are lascivious and some misogynistic, all executives see us as one interchangeable automaton put on earth for the sole purpose of taking their dictation. And we became accustomed to watching them off one another.”
Inspired by Mannequin and Wife, whiskey serves as the base of this booktail, a nod to the appearances of Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey. Lavender syrup references the lavender soap, stretch pants, and toenails belonging to a certain mermaid-like goddess named Rita. Walnut liqueur derives from the taxidermied body—not saying what kind—buried under a black walnut tree. Last but not least, Bitter Queens Marie Laveau Tobacco Bitters reference a tale of romance and stolen identity, wherein a lover longs for a sniff of his beloved’s spit: “I’ve thought of mixing specks of Slazenger-saliva-soaked tobacco with dried herbs and flowers, making sachets of them, tulle-wrapped bundles designed to freshen sock drawers and other hidden places.” All together, the flavors are warm, nutty, and slightly floral–the perfect combination to accompany this brilliantly inventive fall read.
The drink is presented against a curtain of black velvet, in stark contrast with the cover’s blue tone. The cocktail is front and center in a heavy crystal tumbler, gripped by a skeleton hand extended from a sleeve of dried lilac, like decaying lace. Purple flowers sprout between the finger bones. On the back left, a petite white chocolate skull mirrors the hand, a grinning specter of doom and delight.
Mannequin and Wife
- 1.5 oz whiskey
- 0.5 oz lavender syrup (see recipe below)
- 0.5 oz walnut liqueur
- 3 dashes Bitter Queens Marie Laveau Tobacco Bitters
First, prepare the lavender syrup. Once cool, set a rocks glass in the freezer or at the back of the fridge to chill. Meanwhile, gently stir all the ingredients together in a mixing glass filled halfway with ice. Add a large, fresh cube or sphere of ice to the rocks glass, then strain in the cocktail.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- ¼ cup dried organic lavender
Stir all ingredients together in a small pot, then bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Once cool, strain into a clean glass bottle or jar. Keep refrigerated.