I can’t open a book without wanting to eat (or drink) along with the characters on the page. There is endless culinary inspiration in the feasts, parties and family dinners in my favorite novels: Gatsby’s extravagant parties, the beavers preparing dinner for the Pevensie children in Narnia, a midnight feast at Hogwarts in the Gryffindor Common Room.
As a cook and mixologist on The Little Library Cafe, I find ways to bring much-loved stories into the kitchen. These seven drinks should keep you warm until spring — whether you fancy an evening tipple or a warming hot chocolate, there’s something for all tastes. For more literary recipes, look for “The Little Library Cookbook,” out in the U.S. on April 10.
1. Butterbeer From “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban”
We are first introduced to Butterbeer, drink of choice for Hogwarts students, in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” On a cold December day, Harry, Hermione and Ron visit The Three Broomsticks (Harry hidden under the invisibility cloak) for a Butterbeer, which arrives foaming and warms them up from the inside.
Butterbeer has been around since the 16th century. It derives from a Tudor recipe traditionally made with ale, spices, egg yolks, sugar and butter. Butterbeer in the Harry Potter universe is nonalcoholic (though drinking too much will get a house elf drunk), so this version can be enjoyed by children or adults.
Recipe and Nutrition Information: Butterbeer from 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'
2. Chocolatl From “The Golden Compass”
In Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass,” children are lured away from their parents with mugs of steaming hot chocolatl, given to them by the charming, beautiful Mrs. Coulter. Rich, spiced and delicious, it’s perfect for making on a cold winter’s night, when your plans involve little more than an evening on the sofa.
If you can’t get your hands on the whole spices, you can use them in their ground form, or you can play around with some that work for you. You might fancy some nutmeg or star anise or pink peppercorns.
Recipe and Nutrition Information: Chocolatl from 'The Golden Compass'
3. Negus From “Jane Eyre”
Jane Eyre first arrives at Thornfield late on a cold night after a long journey. As she sits close to the fire, Mrs. Fairfax welcomes her like a guest, with sandwiches and a little hot negus.
A negus is a hot wine or port drink; a citrusy version of English mulled wine and perfect for winter. Particularly popular in the early 19th century, it appears in various works of literature, including those by Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters and William Thackeray Makepeace. It’s ideal on a cold night. And the recipe can be scaled up to serve to a whole party without too much trouble.
Recipe and Nutrition Information: Negus from 'Jane Eyre'
4. Brandy Alexander From “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
George and Martha’s dysfunctional marriage, which plays out onstage in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” includes reminiscences of the early days in their relationship. As they drink neat alcohol, they recall a time when Martha ordered “ladylike” drinks — gimlets and Brandy Alexanders.
I wholeheartedly feel that a Brandy Alexander is very much a winter drink. The idea of a heavy, rich, creamy cocktail in the summer months makes me feel slightly queasy. But in winter, the richness provides comfort and warms from the inside out.
Recipe and Nutrition Information: Brandy Alexander from 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'
5. Sherlock Holmes’ Whiskey and Water From “A Study in Scarlet”
In 2017, a study worthy of Sherlock Holmes concluded that whiskey is indeed “better” served with water. The great detective has, of course, known it for more than a century: He drinks his whiskey with water in the first Holmes book: “A Study in Scarlet.”
This is a fancy whiskey and water. The flavor of the alcohol still definitely shines through, so be sure to pick one you enjoy drinking. A peaty Scotch works beautifully. If you can’t find Lapsang souchong tea, any full-bodied black tea will work well, though the smoky Lapsang feels particularly appropriate for a drink for Sherlock Holmes.
Recipe and Nutrition Information: Sherlock Holmes’ Whiskey and Water From “A Study in Scarlet”
6. Bronx Cocktail From “The Great Gatsby”
Every Friday before Jay Gatsby’s extraordinary parties, five crates of oranges and lemons arrive at his mansion on West Egg. By Monday, squeezed of their juice, the empty citrus halves were returned to their crates, ready to be taken away again. Alongside bottles of Champagne and trays of canapes, Gatsby’s guests enjoyed Bronx Cocktails: martinis with the addition of fresh orange juice.
This is a drink to serve in tall martini glasses at your fanciest cocktail party. Though “The Great Gatsby” is undeniably a summer book, this drink is one I like making in winter, when oranges are in season and the cocktail won’t get too warm in the glass.
Recipe and Nutrition Information: Bronx Cocktail From “The Great Gatsby”
7. Eggnog From “The Fir Tree”
In Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Fir Tree,” the Moomins, woken from their usual hibernation, prepare for the arrival of Christmas. They have never seen it before, but quickly adapt to the rituals: They decorate a tree, light candles and drink eggnog.
Eggnog is the ultimate drink for the holiday season, one that I suggest you continue drinking through the final months of winter. If you have only ever had it from a carton, I can’t recommend making your own more enthusiastically. Delicious with or without the alcohol, it’s rich and creamy, but still light, thanks to the addition of egg white.
Recipe and Nutrition Information: Eggnog from 'The Fir Tree'
What Do YOU Think?
What is your favorite winter cocktail? Do you have a book you reread each winter by the fire? Share your favorite potent potables in the comments!