10 Portland Writers Pick Boozy Pairings for their Books

In the countdown to Portland’s annual barhopping books festival LitHop PDX—which takes place this Thursday—we asked ten local authors what drinks paired best with their books. From Queequegs to Cowboy Coffee, here are their eclectic answers. Cheers!

June 22, 2015

A Boulevardier. Photo from Edsel Little on Flickr. Image cropped. CC license.

The Stud Book is set in Portland, a drinking town, so you can drink beer or a good whiskey while you turn the pages, but if you're serious and want to gussy things up I'd say have a Boulevardier. The name is French for a man-about-town, a man who strolls the boulevards, which can be a good thing when you want it to be or a problem if you're just flat kicked out of the house and wandering, but either way, this drink will make a person feel both worldly and regional and eventually drunk. It's bittersweet as many moments of parenthood and sophisticated enough to suit the hedonist. I'm all for it.—Monica Drake, The Stud Book

That's easy -- Hennessy and Sprite. As a chauffeur of dubious moral fiber, Jess spends a good bit of Ride Around Shining drinking and driving, but the book's best drinking scene is when he and Calyph order Hennessy and Sprite. There's a joke that didn't make the final draft that explains that this is called the Arvydas Sabonis, because it's tall and white but brown at heart. In my naiveté I thought I'd invented the combination until last year I saw a friend order it.—Chris Leslie-Hynan, Ride Around Shining

The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld revolves around my ongoing obsession with Herman Melville and the novel Moby-Dick, so the best drink pairing has to involve the old sailor's standby:  Rum.  I recommend a rum punch concoction called the Queequeg (first originated at a Brooklyn bar called The Drink), which consists of warm honey syrup, aged rum, orange juice, orange bitters, and a bottle of Cooper's Vintage Ale.—Justin Hocking, The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld

Photo courtesy Kenny Louie on Flickr. Image cropped. CC license.

The drink that pairs best with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a time-based drink which takes place over hours. It is iced coffee. Lots of it. WTF Directions: Fire one pot of stovetop espresso. When the coffee tempest within has finished, pour the entire pot, over ice cubes, into a Pyrex measuring cup. When the dramatic crackling has finished, serve coffee from measuring cup into a medium glass with a heavy bottom and more ice. You will drink ALL of this iced coffee, with fresh cubes for each new glass, over the next three hours. As soon as you can see through time, take your dog for a walk; look out for patterns that earlier eluded you. Take the alleys, vary your route, look over your shoulder, convince yourself of things. Run home. Write it down, leaving moisture rings on your desk. Repeat as needed, if the dog is up for it. Discontinue by four p.m. In the evening choose from one of these three depressants: Whiskey, Tequila, or Fernet.—David Shafer, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

 My girlfriend says the obvious answer is the Old Fashioned, because of Isabel’s love for old things. But I’m thinking more about the sounds glaciers in the fjords make as they melt, the popping of the air bubbles trapped in ice for hundreds of thousands of years, as warm seawater hits them. I think the right drink is Prosecco & St. Germain. The elder flowers of the liqueur, evoking the romance of Europe, the effervescence of the (economical, Isabel’s a librarian, after all) Prosecco: it would go straight to her head (as it would mine). I would drink it out of a chilled jelly jar with a sprig of mint, to fashion it Portland-style.—Alexis Smith, Glaciers

Photo courtesy Sam Cavenagh on Flickr . Image cropped. CC license.

The Free has a lot of Rainier beer in it, but I'd only go that route if you're a kid and broke. The best that can be said about Rainier is the red R on the can and the old radio ad. If you have a few miles under you and a couple bucks I'd go with tequila, lime, and ice. Maybe a bottle of Centenario. It's a hard book so maybe the tequila will take the sting out of it. Plus I bet the nurse in it, Pauline, would like that drink. She'd probably always have a bottle of it around.—Willy Vlautin, The Free

The Revolution of Every Day pairs best with weak drip coffee in a WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU paper cup, bought in 1994 at a bodega in NYC. Black is best, but light and sweet is okay, too. If you've got to limit it to present-day PDX, brew yourself a cup of your favorite roast at home and drink it as you walk, weeping, down the gentrified horror that is Division Street.—Cari Luna, The Revolution of Every Day

Photo courtesy Pabst Beer

 After some intense considerations, I'd say that both Wedlocked (which describes intense emotional suffering arising from monogamy / marriage) and Darkmouth Strikes Again (describing my experience of depression) deserve something strong, lo-fi, with plenty of pop to mitigate the beautiful pain. Perhaps a 40-ounce of PBR (part of Wedlocked is set in that other Milwaukee—Wisconsin) with either some newly legal edibles or throw in a Percocet. Am I allowed to say that?—Jay Ponteri, Wedlocked and Darkmouth Strikes Again

Conceptually, I'd say the Dryland cocktail would be pool water and raspberry wine cooler served with a few rocks and a salted rim. If we're talking a drink someone could actually order in a bar, I'd say a well Screwdriver (procured with a fake ID if possible).—Sara Jaffe, Dryland

If pressed, I'd say This Is Between Us is kind of like Cowboy Coffee. Strong coffee with a shot of good whisky. Maybe some cream on top, just to make it smooth and fancy.—Kevin Sampsell, This is Between US

LitHopPDX will have 54 readers in six venues in Old Town on Thurdsay, June 22.
More information at

Filed under
Show Comments