An Interview with Cathi Stoler about Books, Murder, and a Good Cocktail
Jude Dillane runs The Corner Lounge, a bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. As we soon discover, though, the protagonist in Cathi Stoler’s new series Bar None: A Murder On The Rocks Mystery, has a lot more to deal with than food and drink. Alison: Thanks so much for taking time out to talk about your latest, Cathi. I was lucky enough to read the ARC, so I know that you give the reader an insider’s look into the food business in New York. Can you tell me what exactly was the inspiration for BAR NONE? Cathi: My husband was in the bar and restaurant business for a long time, first as an owner and later as manager and bar manager. He worked mostly near our home, so I visited often. I got to know all the employees from the bus boys to the cooks, to the wait staff, and bar tenders. It was an education. Some pretty crazy things happened and they stuck with me. I thought using some of these incidents in a novel would be fun. And, it was, especially the scene in which Jude’s now-famous actor friend, Vin Pell, visits The Lounge and causes quite a commotion. Alison: What abut Jude Dillane? Is she based on anyone in particular? Cathi: Jude is a composite of several people. She grew up in the Bronx, just like I did, but the comparison ends there. She’s had sorrow in her life growing up and is trying her best to move onward, like several people I know. She’s also feisty, snarky and a smart-mouth, traits her customers seem to find amusing, rather than insulting. Alison: She has a strong relationship with her landlord and friend, Thomas “Sully” Sullivan. How does that impact the story? Cathi: It impacts the story a great deal. Sully is almost a father figure to her, although neither of them admits it. They rely on each other and she would never turn down his request for help. A request that leads her to a dead body and a whole lot of trouble. Plus, the fact that she has to go back to the Bronx to solve the crime—a borough she swore never to set foot in again—makes her task even harder. Alison: Since The Corner Lounge is also a restaurant, a lot of information about food and drinks in the book. Is there a signature drink? Cathi: There is a signature drink; it’s called Jalapeno Envy. The recipe for it is in the back of the book along with recipes for some of the food served at The Lounge. If you’d like to try it while reading Bar None, here’s the recipe below. Jalapeno Envy 2 oz. Patron Gold Tequila 1 oz. Agave Syrup 1/8 Ripe Mango Squeeze of lime Jalapeno pepper cut into thin rings Place tequila, agave syrup, and mango in blender with half dozen ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Pour into a cocktail glass and add a squeeze of lime. Float jalapeno pepper rings on top. Thank you, so much Cathi! For those of you in New York, Cathi has two events coming up this fall: October 18th at 6:30 pm is the Launch party for Bar None at The Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren Street. November 28th at 6:30 pm with Jenny Milchman, Lindsay Corsi Staub & Carol Goodman at Shakespeare & Co., 939 Lexington Avenue. Hope to see you there!