📖Good Talk: 🍸holiday talk

📖: Mira Jacob’s Good Talk (2018)
🍸: holiday talk

Why this book?

The holidays are usually a time with family (albeit socially distant this year), and this time can come with difficult and uncomfortable conversations. Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir is a timely and relevant read, especially during everything that’s happened this year — the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, the elections.

The conversations in this book can be serious, funny, and ambivalent, but always full of things to unpack and process. I read this book shortly before the US presidential election, and appreciated the parts that covered the author’s experience of living through the 2016 elections. It’s scary how four years later now, we’re still feeling anxious and fearful about the future of our leadership and democracy, and what kind of place this country will be like for people of color.

I especially enjoyed the candid way Mira Jacob presented her conversations with her son, husband, and in-laws, on the topic of race. Even though I’m not a parent, I am in an interracial relationship, and the nuances of these conversations resonated with me.

The central question the book left me with is: how do we navigate relationships with loved ones whose politics directly clash with our own values and identities as people of color? There is no clear-cut answer, but I finished the book feeling hopeful about how engaging in continuous conversations — especially with young people — can help move us toward a better future world.

Why this drink?

I chose a holiday-themed drink for this pairing – also to match the book’s red cover. (The recipe comes from Williams Sonoma’s Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail.) Wishing you a restful and healthy holiday! 🥂

holiday talk

1 oz pomegranate juice
0.5 oz triple sec
3 oz or more of champagne

pomegranate seeds, orange peel, and mint

  1. Combine pomegranate juice and triple sec in a chilled glass.
  2. Top off with champagne, and add garnishes.

Another round, please! 🥂
You might also like:
Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do (2017)

Let’s discuss!

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

📖The Woman Warrior: 🍸silver bolt

📖: Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior (1976)
🍸: silver bolt

Why this book?

The Woman Warrior holds a special place in my reading life. I first read it in college for an Asian American literature class, which introduced me to a world of #ownvoices stories that helped me feel seen for the first time.

In her book, Kingston recounts her upbringing as a Chinese American girl in California. Rereading it gave me a newfound appreciation for Kingston’s craft. Defying the bounds of memoir-writing, Kingston seamlessly blends fact and fiction – incorporating myths and fantastical images – to the point where I wasn’t sure how much of her stories were grounded in memory or pure imagination. I love that the book challenges me to consider whether there’s really a difference between what we remember and what we imagine.

Why this drink?

In the chapter “White Tigers,” Kingston as a young girl imagines herself becoming the great swordswoman, Hua Mulan, as a way to process her experiences growing up female and Chinese in the context of her family and community. In her/Mulan’s warrior training, she describes her ability to make a sword appear out of the sky, like a “silver bolt in the sunlight,” signaling her coming of age as a warrior woman.

So for this pairing, I made a silvery-gold drink in a stemless flute to emulate the shape of a sword. I also incorporated grapefruit and lychee flavors because these fruits make an appearance in Kingston’s book.

And speaking of Mulan 🧐 I want to learn more about other adaptations of her story and understand how it has evolved over time, so I’m planning to check out Lan Dong’s book Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States.

For a quick reference to other versions of Mulan besides the new Disney film, check out this NYT article: “Mulan, a Most Adaptable Heroine: There’s a Version for Every Era.”

silver bolt

1 oz vodka
0.5 oz lychee liqueur
0.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1 tsp simple syrup
4 oz champagne

for garnish:
grapefruit twist

  1. combine all ingredients, except for the champagne, in a shaker and shake with ice
  2. strain into a stemless flute glass
  3. top off with chilled champagne
  4. garnish with a grapefruit twist

Another round, please! 🥂

You might also like:
Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life (2004)

Let’s discuss!

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

And check out these articles to learn more about the book and the writer:

📖How We Fight for Our Lives: 🍸sangria in spain

📖: Saeed Jones’s How We Fight for our Lives (2019)
🍸: sangria in spain

Why this book?

Today is the last day of Pride Month, so I’m recommending Saeed Jones’ How We Fight for Our Lives, a poetic coming-of-age memoir that follows Jones’ experiences growing up as a gay black boy in the South through his early adulthood, navigating his relationship with his mother. In his story, Jones fights not just for physical survival as a black, gay man, but he also fights to claim his right to be himself at the intersection of his marginalized identities. Jones’ struggle for agency and power are intimately tied to his attempts to define himself in a world that is anti-black and anti-gay.

The book is also about Jones’ mother as it is about him. It begins with her and ends with her, despite Jones’ efforts to detach himself from his mother in his journey in finding himself. The memoir aptly closes with a reflection on how “our mothers are why we are here.” They are why we are.

Why this drink?

I made this drink because Jones shares bottles of sangria with a new friend Esther, who he meets on a visit to Barcelona. They tour museums, go to the beach, share meals together, and mutually realize that their mothers are the reason why they both decided to take this trip to Spain. I wanted to highlight this moment of discovery, hope, and comfort that these two individuals found towards the end of the story.

sangria in spain

1 bottle red wine
4 oz brandy*
1 oz maple syrup*
1 orange
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
3 cups of your favorite seasonal fruit, chopped up*

  1. cut the orange in half. juice one half and thinly slice the other half into rounds.
  2. red wine, brandy, orange juice, and maple syrup in a large pitcher or carafe, and mix well (or shake well if your pitcher/carafe has a lid)
  3. add the chopped fruit, and lemon and orange slices to the mixture. let the flavors infuse for at least half an hour before serving.
  4. you may leave it in the fridge to chill for 2-8 hours, if desired.
  5. serve with ice, optional.

quarantine substitutes:
If you don’t have brandy, I’ve read that you can replace it with a black spiced rum. I haven’t tried that but that sounds like it could be really interesting!
If you don’t have maple syrup, you can sub with a simple syrup made with regular white, granulated sugar or demerara sugar. You can also simply mix in white or brown sugar without making a syrup.
Seasonal fruits: use anything you’d like and/or whatever is available. I used peaches, strawberries, and blueberries because it’s summer. Apples, pears, nectarines, and pineapples also work. You can also add more or less lemon/orange to taste. The 3 cups measurement of chopped fruit is just an estimate — add accordingly based on your love for fresh fruit!

Thanks to Cookie + Kate for their Best Sangria Recipe !!

Another round, please! 🥂

You might also like:
Kiese Laymon’s Heavy (2018)

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 to learn more about the book:

📖Go Tell It on the Mountain: 🍸fourteen

📖: James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain (1953)
🍸: fourteen

Why this book?

Go Tell It on the Mountain is James Baldwin’s first novel, published in 1953. It begins with the main character John’s fourteenth birthday, a day when John begins to question his faith, sexuality, and destiny as a preacher.

Much like the novel’s protagonist, James Baldwin also became a preacher at age 14, after a life-changing prayer meeting at his church. However, after some years, he became disillusioned with Christianity, left the ministry, and at age 24, moved to Paris to continue writing and to experience life outside of the racist confines of America.

Baldwin returned to the US in the late 1950’s and became a prominent voice and essayist analyzing issues of race, power, and class during the civil rights movement. As a gay man, Baldwin also wrote stories that explored ideas of queer sexuality and masculinity. His works were also influential in the gay rights movement, in addition to the civil rights movement.

Even almost seventy years after his first publication, much of Baldwin’s writing and social analyses remain extremely contemporary. While The Fire Next Time is resurging in popularity today, I thought it would be interesting to go back to Baldwin’s first work, to see where he began as a writer and understand how his ideas on race, class, sexuality, and faith developed over the course of his career as a writer and activist.

Why this drink?

The second section of this book is titled “The Prayers of the Saints,” which gives readers insight into the history and perspective of John’s family members. As a nod to this section of the book, this cocktail will feature elderflower liqueur as a key ingredient (St. Germain and St. Elder are two brands that produce this spirit).


3 oz dry white wine*
2 oz elderflower liqueur
1 oz club soda

for garnish:
lemon twist

  1. mix all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. pour into collins glass with ice.
  3. garnish with lemon twist and add a splash of lemon juice (optional).

*I used sauvignon blanc in this recipe, but you can also use a pinot grigio or riesling. The recipe also works with a brut champagne.

quarantine substitutes:
If you don’t have elderflower liqueur, you can also use an alcohol-free elderflower cordial or syrup (sold at Ikea and Amazon).
If you don’t have club soda, you may also use a plain or citrus-flavored sparkling water (i.e., lemon) or ginger beer/ale may be a possible alternative.

This recipe was inspired by The Spruce Eats’ Elderflower Cocktail Recipe With Champagne.

Another round, please! 🥂

You might also like:
Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

Let’s discuss!

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