A Cocktail and a Book for Old-School Relaxation

For us, reading a good book and drinking a cocktail go hand-in-hand – one in each hand that is. But it’s more than that. We think savoring that perfect drink can greatly enhance those profound revelations, exciting plot twists, or exquisitely described settings. Whether you’re a fan of the physical book or you’ve gone full-Kindle, there’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in a good book for old-school relaxation.


Here are a couple of our recent cocktail-drinking pairings:

Chinatown Beat - by Henry Chang

There’s just something about detective fiction where the hardboiled inspector must track down the bad guys at all costs, that works so well with a good drink. One of our favorites in this genre is Chinatown Beat.  In it, the dark hero, Detective Jack Yu of the NYPD, navigates the underbelly of NY Chinatown making enemies on both sides of the law.

FYI, another great option in this genre is Jean-Claude Izzo's Marseilles Trilogy. Set in Marseille, France, Izzo’s home town, you get immersed in a France you hopefully never saw on that junior-year abroad. There’s plenty of drinking in these books as well.

South of the Border, West of the Sun - by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami has long been a favorite for us here at Trade Eights Cocktails. Anyone who starts his or her own jazz bar in Tokyo is our hero forever. One of Murakami’s most haunting novels, South of the Border, West of the Sun, tells the story of Hajime, the proprietor of two Tokyo jazz bars who runs into the mysterious lost-love from his youth. As typical of Murakami novels, his numerous references to specific songs (all played on vinyl) add a sensory element to the novel. They also kept us running to our Spotify account to play them.

As Hajime states “Most people don’t realize it, but [making] good cocktails demands talent." We wholeheartedly agree, sir. 

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones - by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki

First published in 1957, this collection of Zen stories and teachings started a movement in the US, and it hasn’t lost any of its thought-provoking power. Feeling contemplative? Feel like pondering the deeper mysteries of what makes us human? But first bottoms up, because as Master Nan-In states in the Zen story A Cup of Tea, “You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?” Well, you heard that man. Drink up.

A Gentleman in Moscow - by Amor Towles

Maybe it’s all James Bond’s fault, but we always associate international intrigue with a well-made drink. The gentleman in this witty novel is Count Alexander Rostov, a man deemed by the government as a Former Person who lives under house arrest at one of Moscow’s swankiest hotels.  It’s not such a bad life.   The Count passes his abundant time drinking cocktails with friends in the grand hotel bar – but he’s got moves up his sleeves!  While there are fewer explosions in A Gentleman in Moscow than the typical Bond movie, we think any cocktail with Russian vodka would go great with the Kremlin operators, clandestine conversations, and Soviet-era setting.

Boys in the Boat - by Daniel James Brown  

One of our favorite underdog stories and our nonfiction pick for a great read with a cocktail in hand is Boys in the Boat.  It tells the story of nine working class boys from the University of Washington who overcame all odds to become heroes of their sport. Who wouldn’t want to live vicariously through a team of champions following their Olympic dream? We’ll toast to that.

Whether you’re transported to the glitz and glamour of turn of the century Russia, the underbelly of NY Chinatown or a Zen place of your own imagination, a good book paired with a well-made cocktail can take you on a great adventure.  So, get your book and mix up a drink with your favorite spirit. Or, better yet waste no time and grab one of our bottled cocktails and start reading.  Cheers!