Successful suspense novelist Stephen King revealed, in his autobiography “…On Writing,” that he drank so much Budweiser while penning his book Cujo he doesn’t remember typing a word of the bestseller.
Oscar Wilde who, on the subject of drinking, wrote, “After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, who authored Lord of the Rings, penned, “Ho, ho, ho, to the bottle I go/to heal my heart and drown my woe.”
A stylish speakeasy on Michigan Ave. in Detroit’s historic “Corktown” neighborhood recently celebrated the inexorable relationship between writers and booze with a special menu of cocktails inspired by “The Great American Novel.”
“One of America’s greatest contributions to the world was the cocktail; and cozying up by the fire with a good book. So we decided to marry the great American novel with the great American cocktail,” said Julie Haase, general manager of The Sugar House. The Sugar House is an artisanal craft cocktail bar which serves single barrel bourbons and batch booze with fresh-squeezed juices, house-made syrups and liquors, fresh basil and mint, and even specialized ice. The Sugar House’s intimate setting has a century-old feel with dark wood and formal elements such as chandeliers, drapes, candles and custom glassware. It’s the kind of gin joint one would expect to be either the setting for a classic novel or the haunt of a famed novelist. It’s a perfect place to pretend you’re an author and get lost in the sauce.
A Confederacy of Dunces, and On the Road were both spirit-forward cocktails with rich flavors of molasses, coffee and maple, respectively. My Antonia, To the Lighthouse, and Fahrenheit 541 – a flamed cocktail – were all full of baking spices. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Grapes of Wrath are all bitter and complex, perfect drinks to sip and savor.”
The cocktails ranged in price from $11 to $17.
Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, which is what The Sugar House called a concoction of Bruto Suze, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, Vodka, Tonic, and Grapefruit Spray. Fitzgerald said, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”
Literature-minded Sugar House patrons tasted their way through elixirs dedicated to the likes of Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury and Cormack McCarthy, who said, “There is no such joy in the tavern as upon the road thereto.” Kerouac concurred by saying, “As far as I’m concerned the only thing to do is to sit in a room and get drunk.”
Thirsty writers like those, and visitors from Lansing, would be wise (and responsible) to enjoy the experience fully by hiring a convenient Dean Black Car driver to shuttle themselves and their guests back and forth to Detroit in comfort and safety. The service provides cars, SUV’s and even a luxury bus so you can read and sip on couches with tables on the way there and back.
Contact Travel Writer Michael Patrick Shiels at MShiels@aol.com His radio program may be heard weekday mornings on 92.1 FM. His latest book is “I Call Him Mr. President – Stories of Fishing, Golf and Life with my Friend George H.W. Bush”