📖Queenie: 🍸royal

📖: Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie (2019)
🍸: royal

Why this book?

Queenie’s story opens at a very awkward moment, which made me curious to read more about her right away. She’s at her gynecology appointment, texting her ex-boyfriend, when she finds out that she had a miscarriage. Feeling unmoored by her breakup, Queenie recounts the history of her relationship with her white ex, trying to figure out why they didn’t work out. Was it his inability to understand her? Was it her inability to open up to him? How much of it was due to the unresolved tensions of their interracial relationship? The book can be witty and humorous, but Queenie’s narrative is also deeply vulnerable as she struggles to start over again and take care of herself after her breakup, while living as a black woman in Britain.

Queenie’s story presents a perspective on what it’s like to live in the modern world as a woman of color, asking us to consider the challenges that arise at the intersection of race and gender. How do we deal with the effects of racism, misogyny, familial expectations, and mental health issues that accumulate when living in a predominantly white society? How do we navigate an interracial relationship? How do we find the courage and strength to choose ourselves first when we may not often be conditioned to do so?

Why this drink?

Interesting fact: Did you know that the pineapple used to be a symbol for luxury and power? In mid-17th century Europe, only royalty could afford buying a pineapple since they were extremely expensive to import from South America and difficult to cultivate in Europe. With that in mind, I chose to include pineapple in the drink to honor the queen that Queenie is.


1.5 oz dark spiced rum
4 oz pineapple juice
1 oz lime juice
pinch of ground cinnamon

*for garnish: jalapeno slices, pineapple fronds and/or pineapple fruit

  1. combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well
  2. serve with large ice cube
  3. garnish with jalapeno slices and pineapple fronds/fruit

Recipe inspired by Boulder Locavore’s The Spicy Maiden Cocktail

Another round, please! 🥂

You might also like:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013)

Let’s discuss!

Finished the book? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

📖How to Love a Jamaican: 🍸mermaid

📖: Alexia Arthurs’ How to Love a Jamaican (2018)
🍸: mermaid

Why this book?

June is Pride Month, so I will be highlighting works that feature Black LGBTQ+ stories for the rest of this month.

Alexia Arthurs’ How to Love a Jamaican is a brilliant collection of eleven short stories about Jamaicans and Jamaican Americans.

Through the lens of having lived in both Jamaica and America, Arthurs’ fiction explores the complications of the immigrant experience, belonging, identity, globalization, gender roles, and sexuality in both countries. Her stories portray how the choice to leave Jamaica for America not only has a profound effect on those who leave the island, but also on those who remain.

Female relationships (between college friends, grandmothers, mothers, and daughters) also serve as a central theme throughout the book. These relationships are portrayed in beautiful and nuanced ways, especially when Arthurs makes space for queer identities to take center stage in her stories. Some of my favorite stories in her collection are the ones that include queer perspectives, such as in “Island,” “We Eat Our Daughters,” and “Shirley from a Small Place.”

Why this drink?

Mermaids appear as a recurring symbol throughout the book. In an interview with The Paris Review, Arthurs notes that the mermaids in her stories “are an evolving metaphor,” as a reference to young female sexuality or transgressive sex. “But in a larger way,” she states, “I think of mermaids throughout the collection as challenging what people believe to be true about Jamaica. People tend to see Jamaica in such polarizing ways. Some think of Jamaica as being this paradise, and others think only of the high murder rates. I think of mermaids as being revelatory in this reckoning.”

The drink’s name and flavor profile also serve as a specific reference to one of the stories, “Mermaid River,” about a man and his childhood memories of his grandmother, who made and sold coconut drops by a river in their Jamaican hometown. For garnish, I added a couple of basil leaves to imitate mermaid emerging from the water.


1.5 oz white rum
4 oz coconut cream (unsweetened)
2 tsp sugar (granulated white, cane, or coconut sugar – omit sugar if you are using sweetened coco cream)
1/3 tsp vanilla extract

for garnish:
whipped cream
caramelized ginger syrup*
2 basil leaves

  1. heat coconut cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a sauce pan just until it begins to bubble
  2. remove the mixture from heat and let cool
  3. once cool, add rum to the mixture in a shaker and shake with ice
  4. serve in a chilled glass with ice. top the drink with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramelized syrup.

*how to make caramelized ginger syrup: Pour sugar and water into a pan (using a 2:1 sugar-to-water ratio), with a sprinkle of ground ginger, and heat the mixture on the stove until it starts to bubble. When the sugar begins to thicken into a caramel texture, immediately remove from stove and drizzle on the drink. I used brown sugar, but you can use granulated white sugar as well.

quarantine substitutes:
If you don’t have whipped cream, you can make whipped cream out of the coconut cream or coconut milk by whisking it in a mixing bowl with a pinch of (powdered) sugar, until it begins to fluff.
If you only have sweetened coconut cream, omit the sugar in this recipe.
If you only have coconut milk, you may use that instead of coconut cream.
Garnishes are just garnishes! So if you don’t have any herbs, omit the garnish!

This recipe was inspired by Shanna Schad’s Rum and Coconut Milk Cocktail.

Another round, please! 🥂

You might also like:
Roxane Gay’s Ayiti (2011)

Let’s discuss!

Finished the book? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

And check out these reviews and conversations with the author to learn more about the book, and the process behind the writing:

📖Sightseeing: 🍸priscilla’s gold

📖: Rattawut Lapcharoensap’s Sightseeing (2012)
🍸: priscilla’s gold

Why this book?

As part of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month, I wanted to read more works by underrepresented AAPI authors, particularly by writers of Southeast Asian heritage. So I asked a fellow Asian American friend – who’s a writer – for some recommendations, and Rattawut Lapcharoensap’s Sightseeing was one of them. Lapcharoensap’s book was published when he was 25 (talk about life goals)!

This collection of seven short stories is such a gem, with its vibrant observations of young people in Thailand, where Lapcharoensap spent his childhood. While straightforward and easy to read, it is full of feeling — wistfulness, regret, curiosity, and hope — from a perspective that is not often represented in mainstream publishing. It is the first work I’ve read from a Thai-American writer, and I would not have found this one on my own without my friend’s help — thank you, V!

Why this drink?

This drink was inspired by one of my favorite stories in the collection, “Priscilla the Cambodian,” which is about an unlikely friendship that forms between two local Thai boys and a girl who arrives in their town as a Cambodian refugee. One of the most memorable things about Priscilla is her gold-plated teeth, which represent one of the few valuable assets that her family was able to take with them after they fled from their home country. As a nod to Priscilla’s gold, I’m pairing a daiquiri-inspired cocktail made with the yellow juice of passion fruit, which is used in Thailand for refreshing drinks.

priscilla’s gold

2 oz gold rum
2 oz passion fruit juice
0.75 oz lime juice
0.5 oz ginger and lemongrass infused demerara syrup

for garnish:
lemon peel twist

  1. combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice.
  2. serve in a chilled glass.
  3. garnish with a lemon twist.

This recipe was inspired by Difford’s Guide’s passion fruit daiquiri.

*how to make ginger and lemongrass infused demerara syrup: Pour demerara sugar and water into a pan (using a 1:1 sugar-to-water ratio) and heat the mixture on the stove until it starts to bubble. Once tiny bubbles start to appear, immediately take the boiling syrup off the stove and pour it into the into a glass jar with slices of fresh ginger and lemongrass. Cover the jar with airtight lid until cool.

*how to make a lemon twist garnish: Use a paring knife to peel off a strip of lemon rind. Remove most of the white pith from the zest to reduce the bitter taste. Trim the edges of your strip to make it look like a ribbon. I made my peel a little less than 1 inch wide. Twist into a spiral and add to your drink.

quarantine substitutes:
–I didn’t have any fresh passion fruit lying around, but I managed to find a carton of passion fruit juice at a local deli shop (who knew the convenience store around the corner would have more of a niche item selection than our local Whole Foods these days!). I’ve seen Ceres, Welch’s, and Goya passion fruit juice sold in some local grocery stores as well.
–Still can’t find any passion fruit juice around? Go ahead and make a plain ol’ daiquiri with lime, rum, and simple syrup. Or you can try swapping out the passion fruit juice for something more common like orange juice.
–No demerara sugar? Simply replace with regular white, granulated sugar.
–No fresh ginger? You can try using ground ginger instead.
–No lemongrass and no ginger? No problem! Just omit these ingredients and make a simple syrup.

Another round, please! 🥂

You might also like:
Lysley Tenorio’s Monstress (2012)

📖Monstress: 🍸squid mother

📖: Lysley Tenorio’s Monstress (2012)
🍸: squid mother

Why this book?

Monstress is Lysley Tenorio’s debut book, which includes a collection of eight short stories that follow Filipino characters in both the Philippines and California. All stories except for one, are told in the first person, welcoming us into the perspectives of diverse characters like an actress, faith healer, first-gen immigrants, and a young girl in a leper colony, among others. These stories are colorful vignettes of the dreams and aspirations of characters who all desire something beyond their current circumstances. In reading these stories, Tenorio’s tales leaves us with the questions like: What do we lose when we reach for something more? How do we change when we reach for these desires, and is getting what we want worth what we might lose?

Why this drink?

The drink’s name is a reference to the title story “Monstress,” about a Filipina actress who formerly starred as a squid monster in a horror film produced by her partner. Like “Monstress,” the other short stories in Tenorio’s book takes us between the Philippines and California, so this drink intends to do the same. I combined ingredients that are grown in the stories’ settings — coconuts (Philippines) and jalapeno peppers (California). To make this cocktail even more thematic, I carved a squid-shaped garnish out of a whole jalapeno pepper and submerged the tentacles in the cocktail for an extra spicy kick.

Also, Lysley Tenorio’s new book, The Son of Good Fortune, is coming out this July, and I can’t wait to read it! So if you liked his short stories, there’s more to come, YAY!

squid mother

2 oz white rum
4 oz Goya coconut water
1 oz jalapeno infused simple syrup
0.5 oz lime juice

for garnish:
jalapeno pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice.
  2. Serve in a chilled glass with ice.
  3. Garnish with a whole jalapeno pepper, carved into the shape of a squid. If you prefer to not have a “squid” in your drink you can simply add slices of jalepeno pepper instead.

This recipe was inspired by Liquor.com’s caribeno.

*how to make jalapeno infused simple syrup: Pour sugar and water into a pan (using a 1:1 sugar-to-water ratio) and heat the mixture on the stove until it starts to bubble. Once tiny bubbles start to appear, immediately take the boiling syrup off the stove and pour it into the into a glass jar with slices of jalapeno pepper. Cover the jar with airtight lid until cool.

Another round, please! 🥂

You might also like:
Rattawut Lapcharoensap’s Sightseeing (2004)

📖Half of a Yellow Sun: 🍸olanna

📖: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)
🍸: olanna

Why this book?

Half of a Yellow Sun is an epic story of two twin sisters, their partners, and a house servant in Nigeria. The book spans a decade — from Nigeria’s independence in 1960 to the Nigerian-Biafra War of 1967-1970 — and follows the lives of these five individuals as they experience times of peace, prosperity, hope, revolution, devastation, and displacement. The book gives sharp insight and nuanced perspectives of a civil conflict that the rest of the world has viewed as a war of starvation.

Adichie puts great effort into exploring the impact of violence and revolution on civilian lives, rather than focusing on just the fighting. Because the conflict so significantly impacted civilians, the story of the war cannot be fully told without recognizing the story of the people who lived through it. While the book primarily highlights five main characters, the scope of the novel remains broad, due to Adichie’s details and discussions around Nigerian history, politics, class, and colonialism.

Why this drink?

Yellow appears as a significant color: one of the protagonists’ names, Olanna, means ‘father’s gold’ in Igbo, and the title of the novel references the emblem of a yellow rising sun on the Biafran flag. With that in mind, I decided to make a spin-off of a Nigerian Chapman with freshly squeezed orange juice and yellow-colored spirits to give this drink its gold color (instead of the traditional red color). 


2 oz spiced gold rum
0.5 oz elderflower liqueur 
1 tsp Suze 
3 oz orange juice
0.5 oz lemon juice 
juice of 1 lime wedge
2 oz seltzer water 

for garnish:
orange wheels, sliced in half

  1. combine all ingredients (except for seltzer water) and shake with ice
  2. pour into a chilled glass with halved orange wheels
  3. top off with seltzer water
  4. serve with ice (optional)

quarantine substitutions:
Suze is not always available at local liquor stores. Omit this ingredient – if you want to replace it, you can use any other gentian-based bitter liqueur, or simply add some bitters to the drink. (Chapmans traditionally call for bitters anyway).

If you do not have elderflower liqueur, replace it with a simple syrup (boil a 1 part sugar 1 part water mixture on the stove just until bubbles appear, and let cool). You may also use the syrup from canned lychees. Or use ripe freshly squeezed oranges that are already naturally sweet, so no need for an extra sweetener.

Another round, please! 🥂

You might also like:
Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland (2013)