Books and booze for sunny days

1930s sunbathers

The Sun Also Rises is probably my favourite sun-soaked book, but my favourite book about summer in England is definitely The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff. It’s something of  a slow burner – although it’s about a family seaside holiday, they don’t actually get to the destination until page 106.

As with all Persephone books (because, of couse, it’s one of their lovely grey editions, it’s gentle and lovely and thoughtful. If you’ve ever been on a British bucket-and-spade-brigade holiday with your family, I’m sure much of it will ring true.

Although the weather isn’t quite so glorious as Hemingway’s hot ‘n’ heavy action in The Sun Also Rises (it is Bognor, rather than Basque country), The Fortnight in September captures our unique, somewhat panicky take on those surprise summer days so perfectly;

There is a feeling about the beginning of a cloudless day; an excited rustling as if invisible hands were rubbing together in anticipation over the roof tops: a droning murmur that seems to come from crowds of people collecting together buckets and spades, magazines and bath towels: all trying to assure themselves that there is no need to hurry – but trying frantically all the same to free themselves from the petty little things that hold them within the shade of their rooms.

Heartily recommend it for your summer reading lists – if you can handle a seriously slow pace, you’ll be rewarded with painfully lovely character profiles and perfectly observed detail. You can buy it in my Amazon bookshop, of course!

And, because you’ll want something to drink while you read your book in the sun, here’s a nice summer cocktail. For once, it’s not from Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book – this time it’s the Cafe Royal’s 1937 edition.

Excitingly, while browsing it for summer-sounding recipes, I found a contribution from F. Scott Fitzgerald! Well, we know how much he liked booze and he was certainly a supporter of other authors, so I reckon he’d be into R. C. Sherriff.

Well worth investing in some curaçao – although apparently triple sec is a fine and dandy substitute.

The Hot Night, invented by Fitz

1/3 gin

1/3 rum

1/6 orange juice

1/6 curaçao

Shake and serve over ice.

[Picture by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1938 via the Art Deco Blog]

Buttery booze


[Picture: Brooklyn Galley which is a really, really good food blog FYI]

My best friend and I went to the pub this afternoon and on the mulled booze menu was HOT BUTTERED RUM.

I’ve always thought of myself as a booze aficionado but obviously I’ve been lying to myself all these years, because hot buttered rum had escaped my notice until now. I think (in my defensive) it’s a US thing as the majority of recipes that I’ve found have come from the States – and further investigation has also thrown up buttered rum Lifesavers, Yankee candles and shower gel from Philosophy, which I would call conclusive proof that this idea comes from the magical minds of Americans.

The idea of putting a stick of butter into some booze seems entirely wrong – and as far as cholesterol levels go, it entirely is – but it tastes magically delicious and completely obliterated my friend’s cold which means it presumably has medicinal benefits too.

I haven’t made any of my own yet – I’ve been too busy in the pub drinking it, obv – but here’s a recipe from Paula Deen. Because who knows butter better?

Hot Buttered Rum (makes one delicious drink)

  • 1 small slice of soft butter. I would suggested unsalted to save your arteries.
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • spices of your choice – cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, cloves, that kind of Christmassy thing
  • vanilla extract
  • generous shot of dark rum (not Sailor Jerry for the love of all things buttery and boozey)
  • boiling water

Put the butter, sugar and spices in the bottom of a mug or other heat-proof drinking container of your choice. Mix well or muddle if you are that way inclined.

Pour in the rum then top up with a bit of hot water and a splash of vanilla. Stir it all together (with a cinnamon stick if you fancy like that) and drink that delicious buttery beverage down. Feel alive.

NB: Do not confuse hot buttered rum with Hot Buttered Rum.

Celebrating St Patricks with an opal hush


“Who is for opal hush?” she cried, and all, except the American girl and the picture dealer, who preferred whisky, declared their throats were dry for nothing else. Wondering what the strange-named drink might be, I too asked for opal hush, and she read the puzzlement on my face. “You make it like this,” she said, and squirted lemonade from a siphon into a glass of red claret, so that a beautiful amethystine foam rose shimmering to the brim. “The Irish poets over in Dublin called it so; and once, so they say, they went all round the town, and asked at every public-house for two tall cymbals and an opal hush. They did not get what they wanted very easily, and I do not know what a tall cymbal may be. But this is the opal hush.” It was very good, and as I drank I thought of those Irish poets, whose verses had meant much to me, and sipped the stuff with reverence as if it had been nectar from Olympus. – Arthur Ransome, Bohemia in London, 1907

Tag your Moet & Chandon

There are few things in life I like more than booze, and cliche as it may be, champagne definitely does it for me. I mean, obv I’ll drink anything, but champagne a) gets you drunk and b) doesn’t give you a hangover so it’s a win-win situation.

I’m certain this is what Moet & Chandon had in mind when they created this Valentine’s Day ‘Tag Your Moet’ graffiti gift box. In fact, if you open the lid it says; “gets you drunk, no hangover guaranteed.” Anyway, with ~romance~ in the air during the month of February*, this special bundle would be a neat gift for any of your friends/loved ones. As well as the booze, you aslo get a GOLD PEN!!!! to write your own special message on the box.

Bubblegum pink and gold – probably my favourite colour combo after pink and red.

Booze and a marker pen – probably my favourite fun combo after Andrew WK and hotdogs.


*It’s our anniversary in February, FU V-Day.

Personalised Champagne c/o My Moet

Two of my favourite things combine to make one magical Christmas present; booze, and personalisation with Swarovski crystals.

MyMoet allows you to write whatever you like (well, as long as no more than 7 characters on the top line and 8 on the bottom) on a bottle of Moet, in your choice of size. Alas, they don’t ship to the UK – still, I’m sure with a tube of superglue and some crystals from Hobbycraft, you could easily concoct something similar.