New Book Alert! LITERARY LIBATIONS to Be Published by Skyhorse Press

It is my great pleasure to announce that my forthcoming LITERARY LIBATIONS: WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU READ has been contracted for publication by Skyhorse Press in Fall of 2018!

Damn, it feels good to say that.

From the Publisher’s Marketplace website:

Amira K. Makansi’s Literary Libations: What to Drink With What You Read, a hilarious and useful guide that pairs wine, beer, and cocktail recipes with famous works of literature, to educate and inform about two of the greatest and most beloved topics in the world—books and alcohol, to Leah Zarra at Skyhorse, for publication in Fall 2018, by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger (World English).

What’s even more exciting is that this project will allow my sister and co-author Elena Makansi to once again work together to bring this book to life – this time, as author and illustrator. Elena and I are both excited to reunite on a new and entirely different kind of book.

LITERARY LIBATIONS was actually birthed as a concept on this blog. Yep, that’s right. Right here, on these pages. Some of my long-term blog readers might remember the post I wrote, almost offhand, called What to Drink With What You Read. In it, I offered a solution for what I call “chronic reading anxiety” – the devastating realization that there is absolutely no way you’ll be able to read every book you want to in your lifetime. Not by half.

This photo of a classic Alsatian Riesling featured in the blog post I wrote that led to LITERARY LIBATIONS.

The solution, of course, is alcohol.

At this point, I need to give a humble shout-out to my father, Jason Makansi, for inspiring me to take this blog post and turn it into something bigger. A few days after I published the original post, my dad called me while I was on my lunch break at work.

“Hey sweetie,” he said. “That blog post you wrote about books and alcohol was really funny. Have you thought about turning it into a bigger project?”

I was surprised but interested. “It was really easy to write,” I admitted.

He had a few different ideas for what this “bigger project” would look like. He suggested an app that would offer drink recommendations for newly-purchased books. I reminded him that I have zero web or app development skills and no experience coding. He then suggested it would make a great book.

I pondered this for a moment. “I could do that.”

Perfect Margarita
A perfectly-crafted classic margarita

Two years later, in January of 2017, I devoted a few weeks to hammering out a book proposal. In February, I pitched and found an agent. Just a few days later, we started submitting to publishing houses. By June, I had a tentative offer of publication. After a long summer of contract negotiations, I’m thrilled to be able to announce that both parties have signed on the dotted lines and the book has been sold to Skyhorse, slated for publication in Fall of 2018.

Thanks, Dad!

Elena, too, is excited to work on the project. Early on, she expressed an interest in illustrating the book, particularly if I opted to self-publish. So when Leah, the editor at Skyhorse, asked if I had an idea in mind for an illustrator, I was over the moon. They were as excited about Elena’s artwork as I always have been.

The original blog post that eventually birthed LITERARY LIBATIONS was remarkably broad; I offered very general wine pairings to go with entire genres of literature – Petite Sirah with suspense novels, for instance. In the book version, the pairings will be much more precise. Individual books will be paired with cocktails, beers, and wines. Below, you’ll find a few examples from the chapter I included in my book proposal, Dark and Stormy: The Classics, European Edition.

Les Misérables – Victor Hugo

Pair with: Cru Beajoulais

Do you hear the people sing? You’ll be singing for sure after an excellent bottle of this astoundingly underrated cousin of the much more expensive and far more famous Pinot Noir from Burgundy. A fine red wine made from Gamay Noir, a grape no one has ever heard of, Cru Beaujolais wines have much in common with Pinots, but are considered the bastard cousins of those more extravagant relatives. What better to swig while cheering for our heroic students revolting against the aristocracy as they set up barricades in the streets of Paris than an under-appreciated symbol of the bourgeoisie? Beaujolais from the AOC regions of Fleurie, Julienas, and Saint-Amour are some of my personal favorites.

Dracula – Bram Stoker

Pair With: Bloody Mary

Would it have been possible to pair any other drink with this classic Gothic horror? Not to mention what happens to the poor girl named Mary halfway through the book…. Let’s just say you’ll want your vodka straight and narrow, topped up with Worcestershire and hot sauce, and don’t forget to dose it with plenty of garlic. Just because we’re reading about vampires doesn’t mean we want to invite them in for tea.

1984 – George Orwell

Pair with: The Obituary

As this devastating novel is an imagination of the extension of U.S.S.R. communism into England, with a sci-fi twist, this book was particularly difficult to choose a pairing for. Whatever one drinks with this novel must be bleak enough to convey the depths of totalitarianism, cloudy enough to represent the obfuscatory nature of doublethink, boozy enough to carry you into a memory hole of your own, with not a hint of sugary reprieve to be found. The Obituary, a New Orleans cocktail that adds absinthe to a dry martini, will suit our purposes nicely. Although absinthe is traditionally green, I recommend a white absinthe served in a frosted cocktail glass, which will give the cocktail a milky appearance, as opaque as Big Brother himself. Use a London gin in Orwell’s honor, and drink down this cocktail as you read with the uneasy feeling that life really does imitate art.

And to finish off today’s pairing recommendations, I’d be honored if you’d raise a glass of bubbles with me, whether it’s with Cava, Prosecco or the finest Champagne, in a toast to celebrate this new adventure.