Throwing a Book Release Party: Step 1.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I’m fishing for anything—including party guests—I tend to opt for bait that’s tried and true. Which is why an essential phase of my party planning for the Aug. 30 release of Scourge CR-1150904_10151725954158355_557296575_nof the Righteous Haddock involved identifying and preparing just the right booze. Now, anyone who knows me is aware that I don’t really drink, mostly because I don’t like the taste of alcohol but also because alcohol and ulcers make dangerous companions. So I find myself playing the role of sober driver quite often, and I don’t really mind considering that I usually go to events to socialize. That said, I recognize the social importance of drinking, and I wanted to ensure that my guests walked away from the party with more than a book.

(Matt Fountain played the role of bartender at the party, which he referred to as asking the fox to guard the henhouse.)


Choosing the right drinks to pair with my novel was essential. A lot of art receptions serve wine, but I worried that would be too obvious, and wouldn’t say anything specific about the book. Beer was another option, but I decided that it just wasn’t whimsical enough. Then I saw an image of cocktails in mason jars on Pinterest, and that pretty much decided it for me. I sent my friend Michael Wangbelt key passages from Scourge of the Righteous Haddock, and asked him to create cocktails inspired by the book. He did, and his drinks were such a hit (there was a line at the bar the entire night) that I decided to post the recipes in case you’re feeling in need of some refreshment (if it’s as hot there—there being wherever you happen to be—as it is here in SLO, I imagine you’ll welcome something cool and fruity).

Before I post these drink recipes, I feel compelled to add that if you’re not yet 21, you can file them away for future use. I’m aware that this is a profoundly uncool thing for me to say, but you must remember that I did write a young adult novel and while it would never be mistaken for a copy of Winnie the Pooh, I don’t have any interest in transforming driven, motivated young readers into degenerates who swill fruit cocktails from mason jars. There’s plenty of time for that later. Trust me. Enjoy being young (the decrepit adults around you envy you this boon, even if we don’t like to admit it) and keep your paws off the booze until you’re old enough to handle it responsibly. Which applies to the adults reading this as well. I don’t want Combat Writing to be the reason you wind up passed out on the bathroom floor.

There. Now that I’ve done my civic duty, here are those drink recipes. If you give them a try, or if you drank them at the party, I’d love to know your thoughts and opinions about them:



30 mL citrus vodka (1/8 cup)

3 basil leaves

Chili powder

Seltzer water

Combine vodka, basil leaves and a shake or two of the chili powder in a shaker with ice. 2 toe cubes of ice.  Cap and shake vigorously. Pour into drink glass, top off with seltzer water.

Tastes green, it also has a sharp taste due to the lack of sugar. Could also increase the alcohol to 45 ml (3/16 cup).

Michael’s notes: This isn’t meant to be a nice drink. It’s meant to poke, prod, and get you focused. It’s not sweet, it hopefully will have a kick with the chili powder and it should be sharp due to the seltzer water. It’s meant to sharpen your senses as if you were preparing to battle.


1 strawberry cut into pieces

20 ml of tequila (5/64 cups, ½ shot)

20 ml of triple sec (5/64 cups, ½ shot)

40 ml of limeaide (1 shot)

Mix all parts in a shaker and add ice.  shake vigorously,  pour into glass.

This is basically a strawberry margarita.  8 oz is about 236 ml.

Michael’s notes: A classic margarita with a fruit twist. Not very salty but you can increase the “bitter” of it by adding a fresh squeeze of lime juice into it for an extra kick.


1 inch piece of cucumber diced

40 ml of jasmine green tea from trader joes (1/6 cup)

3 basil leaves

20 ml of simple syrup (1/12 cup, ½ shot)

20 ml  of vodka (1/2 shot)

Finish with seltzer water

Combine cucumber, basil, and vodka in a shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously. Pour into cup. Add simple syrup and tea. Top off with seltzer water.

Michael’s notes: This drink is novel and new, pioneering but with direction and a goal. What I thought of the character of Edith.


80 ml of cider, mulled with spices (1/3 cup)

40 ml of spiced rum (1/6 cup, 1 shot)

Slice of orange

Mull cider with mulling spices. Spices can be found at specialty stores.  Combine liquids, then squeeze slice of orange into glass leave in orange.  Could add cinnamon stick for additional garnish.

Michael’s notes: This one is a fun drink with the fresh orange and mulled cider. Not a dyed in the cloth pirate drink, but it has rum and feels good.


2 parts vodka

1 part peach schnapps

4 parts orange peach or orange mango or orange pineapple or orange peach mango or orange pineapple mango juice.

1 part seltzer

Michael’s notes: Love the name. I wanted to create something that’s sickly sweet easy to go down then suddenly you realize you had one too many. Just like listening to a false prophet for too long, you realize your mistake or you pass the hell out and get pick pocketed.



  1. Nice – thanks for sharing. Always great if people are into their job, especially bartenders.

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