The holiday season is in full swing. Children are crying uponst the knee of a large, hairy fellow, the young and old alike are donning their most festive of ugly sweaters, claymation is making its annual return, and I am reading independent books… and cultivating cocktails for the enjoyment of all. You’re welcome.
That’s right, it’s time for another installment of Small Press Cocktails. Today we’re raising a glass (a rocks glass – to be precise) to An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky—a wonderful debut novel by Dan Beachy-Quick. Published by Coffee House Press, An Impenetrable Screen follows Daniel, a literature professor at a traditional New England college, as he works to wring some sense out of his past by writing the novel of his life, weaving together myths and fairy tales with his childhood memories in an attempt to impose order. The book is a metafictional exploration of fatherhood, memory, loss, and guilt and self-consciously engages the power of narratives: personal, cultural, and literary to both haunt and heal. Both novels, the physical one as well as the book within the book, are haunted by Daniel’s mad, myth-singing father and Lydia, the beautiful physicist who got away. Binding together all of these disparate pieces is a desperate preoccupation with the greatest of all American maritime novels: Moby Dick.
This salty obsession calls out for rum like a blaring horn on a foggy December night. But in order to correctly capture An Impenetrable Screen’s wild mix of fantasy set against stuffy academic set pieces, we need to temper the drink with something a bit refined, in this case cream sherry and Licor 43 – a Spanish liquor. Based on a recipe devised by The Eastern Standard—one of the best bars in Boston—I give you the Ponce de Leon, a drink deserving of the immortality sought by its namesake, as well as many of those in An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky.
Ponce de Leon
Makes one drink
2 ounces pot-stilled rum, such as Pussers or Old Ipswich Tavern Style Rum
1 ounce cream sherry, like an Oloroso or Pedro Ximenez
½ ounce Licor 43
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker full of ice. Stir. Strain into chilled rocks glass. Flame an orange peel over the top of the drink (twist orange peel over match). Drink, facing into the teeth of a nor’easter in your best ascot.