Booze and books: top 6 literary cocktails

Daniel Wren

Here at Vada we love both of the Bs: books and booze (well, we love boys, too, but we have plenty of articles about them already). Here we have a selection of the very best bookish booze, in our list of five literary cocktails you shouldn’t drink in the library.

Death in the Afternoon

This was my signature cocktail back when I ran my own club night in Leeds. The night was called Blasphemy, and we had fallen angel flyer boys with busted feathers and kohled up eyes. I used to stand in the corner and sip one of these – originally created by Ernest Hemingway.


  • 25ml absinthe
  • 125ml champagne (or prosecco)
  • pink rose petal (to decorate)


  1. Pour champagne into a martini glass
  2. Add the absinthe
  3. Garnish with a pink rose petal

death in the afternoon

Moloko Plus

A Clockwork Orange shocked readers when it was published, and shocked again when it was made into a film by Stanley Kubrick. If you find yourself living in a hyperviolent future with gangs of mask-wearing youths, you might find this tipple beckons.


  • 25ml absinthe
  • 25ml anisette liqueur
  • 50ml Irish cream or Bailey’s
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • ice
  • barbiturates (optional, and not recommended)
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  1. Shake ingredients with ice
  2. Strain into a tall highball glass


Mint Julep

‘”I’ll make you a mint julep,” Daisy tells Tom. “Then you won’t seem so stupid to yourself.”‘

The mint julep was featured in The Great Gatsby and has become a literary favourite. In fact, we need about 10 of these (each) to get through the average day in the office.


  • 50ml bourbon
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • two sugar cubes
  • two tsp water
  • crushed ice


  1. Crush mint leaves
  2. Add sugar cubes and water to a Tom Collins glass
  3. Fill with crushed ice
  4. Pour over the bourbon


The Gryffindor

For all you Harry Potter fans, this fruity cocktail is for the good of heart. If you’re evil, however, you may find this too sweet.


  • 50ml raspberry liqueur or Chambord
  • 25ml cranberry juice
  • 25ml orange juice
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 twist (of peel) orange


  1. Mix orange and cranberry juices and Chambord with ice
  2. Strain
  3. Garnish with an orange twist wrapped around a cherry with a sword-pick through it
  4. Serve in a hurricane glass

harry potter cocktails

Difficult Fruit

The Difficult Fruit cocktail, inspired by the poetry collection of the same name by Lauren K. Alleyne, is a Caribbean-inspired treat. This is great for summer BBQs and lounging on the beach.

With our empty wallets and this British weather, that might indeed seem like a far-off dream – but a girl can dream, right?


  • 25ml pomegranate schnapps
  • 25ml citron vodka
  • 25ml Malibu (or white rum of choice)


  1. Pour over ice
  2. Squeeze in fresh lime juice
  3. Top with grapefruit sour
  4. Garnish with fruit of choice
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Designed by mixologist Kelly William.
difficult fruit cocktail

Raoul Duke Singapore Sling

This cocktail comes straight from the heinous antics of Raoul Duke, the protagonist in Hunter S. Thompson’s roman-a-clef, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Named for the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and served with a side of South American hallucinogen mescal, this drink will kick your arse and then some.


  • 45ml gin
  • 15ml cherry liqueur
  • 7.5ml Cointreau
  • 7.5ml Benedictine
  • 10ml grenadine
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 120ml pineapple
  • dash of bitters
  • mescal (not really)


  1. Mix ingredients over ice in a highball glass
  2. Serve with mescal on the side (we can’t recommend this, of course)

What are your favourite book-related drinks?

About Daniel Wren

Vada Magazine staff writer. Interested in travel, news, politics and dating.