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Books and Beverages


Photo by Gretchen E.K. Engel

Last week there was a meme going around about dreaming of owning a bookstore. Honestly, this isn’t really a dream of mine. Or at least something I’d get excited about doing unless I could make it something really unique.

Then I had an idea, books and beverages. Pretty much all of my writing friends are either Team Coffee or Team Tea. Of course there are a few who are strictly all soda, all the time. And others who don’t do caffeine at all. Then there’s the whole reputation of authors being alcoholics.

My first professional job was with an insurance company. We would go for training classes in Hartford, Connecticut. One of our favorite hangouts was a coffee bar that served small plates and desserts. They also had a full bar with fun drinks and comfortable furniture in an old building. Half of the seating was on a mezzanine overlooking the rest of the place. This was the late 1990s so funky coffee houses a la the Central Perk from “Friends” were the thing. I haven’t been to Hartford since the new millennium. When I went to search for my old haunt,  I found that it’s a ghost of itself relocated to the lobby of a high-rise.

My place would have a setting like that except with more sofas and coffee tables. I’d have regular tables of all sizes too. Places where solo readers and drinkers would not feel conspicuous but also space for book clubs.

There would be food too. Think about all of the delicious food and drinks in novels. There would be a menu with featured pairings in case the customers weren’t familiar with a specific tome or author. I’d have a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Here are a few of my pairings:

The Great Gatsby (or any other F. Scott Fitzgerald book) would require a gin and tonic
Hemingway and the mojito (or any other rum drink) is obvious
Harry Potter and butter beer of course (perhaps a simple cream soda for Muggle readers)
Austen and claret or tea
Anne of Green Gables calls for raspberry cordial (currant wine for those of age)
Ian Fleming and the martini (shaken not stirred)

And on the menu:

How about a dozen oysters with Through the Looking Glass or Turkish Delight and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? Here are a few of my others (some tongue and cheek).

I admit to being a former Twilight fan, and I’m not a hater of the series. I think the vampire series calls for pasta and birthday cake with New Moon. Breaking Dawn  requires fried chicken and eggs for part one (tomato juice/Bloody Mary/beet smoothie in Styrofoam cup optional) and venison sliders for part two (cooked rare).

I can’t count the number of times I’ve craved food or drink from books I’ve read. Next to speculative fiction and young adult, historical fiction is my next favorite genre. I can’t read a Julie Lessman book without a serious lemonade craving. I’m listening to Stephen Lawhead’s Bright Empires series. Every single time I listen to a scene from the coffee house in Prague I have to have a cup of java. If I were feeling ornery, I’d recommend a rosewater soda for The Hunger Games and limoncello (or other lemony beverage) when reading Nadine Brandes’ Out of Time series.

And if you came into my bookstore to read your Bible, I think a glass of water would be the most appropriate. Unless of course you have to Instagram your daily devotional with a strategically placed latte.

I’ve come up with a few, but what food or drink would you pair with your favorite books?


About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

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