Belly Up to the Bookshelf

Cocktail in a rocks glass with a stack of books

I was chatting with my blog-mates earlier about literary feasts—who would we invite and what would we serve, that kind of thing. The conversation reminded me of real-life literary feasts, like those hosted by Chantal Tseng (@ShinobiPaws). Chantal is a bartender and sherry specialist who earns her living these days by crafting custom cocktails.

In between dreaming up delicious drink recipes for clients, she hosts the Agatha Christie & Sherry book club with DC’s Loyalty Bookstore. Club discussions center on Miss Marple mysteries paired with—what else?—sherry. Chantal also hosts Get Lit DC, a partnership with Thamee, a Burmese restaurant in DC. She chooses a book, selects quotes from the book, and crafts cocktails inspired by the quotes. The restaurant pairs bar snacks with each cocktail. Guests order a to-go kit which includes the snacks, the cocktails (pre-mixed in adorable bottles labeled with the quotes that inspired them), and a Zoom link to a session with the book’s author. I was featured last month, with cocktails inspired by Death in D Minor. So was Rachel Howzell Hall, with And Now She’s Gone-themed drinks.

Here’s a cocktail recipe inspired by this quote from Death in D Minor:

  “She raised a hand to signal for a refill, when her empty glass refilled itself. A Bay Rum-scented breeze brushed her cheek. “That has to be the coolest ghost trick ever,” she said. “Thank you, Captain Lochlan.” (P.130)

Chill a Rocks glass.

Add to your shaker:

1.5 oz. Lemon Hart 1804 Rum

.5 oz. Cointreau or Combier (or other nice orange liqueur)

.5 oz. Velvet Falernum

2 dashes of St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram

.5 oz. fresh lime juice*

Fill with cracked ice and shake for about 15 seconds. Double-strain into your chilled glass. Garnish with an orange peel, oils expressed over your drink at a 45 degree angle, studded with cloves.

If you were going to create a cocktail or mocktail inspired by a literary quote, what quote would you choose and what would your drink be?

(If you’re better at drinking drinks than designing them and want a tipple inspired by your favorite read, contact Chantal at (@customcocktails_endtimes on Instagram).


  1. I had no idea! A cocktail inspired book club. Where have I been all these years. Thanks for sharing and I’ll definitely check out her Instagram!

  2. “Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” — Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

    The Dorian Gray:

    Shot of tequila with peppermint schnapps back.

    (I tried.)

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