Booktails From the Potions Library, with mixologist Lindsay Merbaum
Get cozy with a cocktail, Yaffa S. Santos’ "A Touch of Moonlight," and embrace the romance that comes under cover of night
In A Touch of Moonlight by Yaffa S. Santos, Larimar Cintrón is a successful 34 year-old brand manager at a growing chain of bakeries in NYC. She’s also a devoted Dominican daughter who lives in the same building as her parents, a punk fan, avid foodie… and a magical being known as a ciguapa. Larimar appears human most of the time, until the full moon rises. Then her rizos go straight, covering her body in a robe of tresses, down to her inverted feet. Too fast for the human eye to see, she runs heels-first through the night. But her identity as a ciguapa is only one of the secrets Larimar is keeping from Ray, a sweet, gentlemanly owner of a local bakery who’s as delicious as his pastries, and likewise irresistible. Surely dating a ciguapa is unimaginable, but Larimar’s second, much more human secret may be the one that’s unforgivable.
Punctuated with actual recipes for some of the treats Larimar and a cast of lovingly nosy friends and family enjoy throughout this book, A Touch of Moonlight is a romance rooted in a search for belonging and self-acceptance. Though Larimar is not the only ciguapa in the family, to find her place in the world, she has to look deeper within herself, and at her history: “The ciguapas had taken her home. […] This knowledge was a bracing tonic for her spirits. It gave her roots, and she needed roots to soar.”
It’s only fitting for this booktail to borrow from some of the rich spices and flavors found in the array of mouth-watering pastries and baked goods described within this novel, including boozy cupcakes: black spiced rum honors Chocolate Espresso Rum-Infused cupcakes, Pumpkin-Spiced Rum cupcakes, plus rum on the rocks on Nochebuena, and last but not least, the rum-soaked macarons served at a very special occasion. Meanwhile, the honey in mamajuana inspired the honey chamomile ginger syrup that defines this drink. Chamomile can be found in Chamomile Lemon cupcakes with honey buttercream, while bestie Brynn mixes ginger in her hot toddy, and Borrachitos uses ginger in the bakery’s Dominican Hot Chocolate-Inspired Cupcakes. Ginger also makes an appearance in Larimar’s own Bourbon Spice Naked Cake with Edible Flowers. Finally, the frozen coconut water references Ray’s coconetes and Larimar-inspired cupcakes, and Coconut Arroz Con Dulce cupcakes.
A deceptively simple yet strong cocktail—for a woman for whom “alcohol was like water”—with notes of coffee and spice, the sweetness of the rum and syrup are well balanced by the neutralizing frozen coconut water. The booktail is presented on a liquid mirrored base for ciguapas’ penchant for water, while the two-toned background sparkling with the day/night bling of a city symbolizes Larimar’s human and supernatural aspects. A white moon crosses both sides, hanging over the drink, mirrored in the ridged sphere of coconut ice in the glass. The glass is garnished with a candied hibiscus flower, a rare and wild-looking treat.
A Touch of Moonlight
- 2 oz black spiced rum
- 1 oz honey chamomile ginger syrup (see recipe)
- Coconut water ice
First, freeze the coconut water in an ice mold of your choosing, preferably a large square, sphere, or diamond shape. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Once cool, add to a mixing glass filled halfway with ice, along with the rum. Stir until well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass. Add the coconut ice.
Honey Chamomile Ginger Syrup
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup honey
- 4 chamomile tea bags
- About 2-inches of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- Mix the honey, ginger, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a gentle boil, then lower heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add the tea bags to the pot.
- Steep until cool, then discard the tea and ginger. Store in a glass bottle or jar and keep refrigerated.