A Killer Book Club-Putting a Literary Spin on Drinks By Ellery Adams, author of Murder in the Locked Library and The Whispered Word

I’ve seen a funny motto about book clubs embroidered on tote bags and pillow covers. It says, “My book club can outdrink your book club.” Another one reads, “I was delighted to discover that book club is a euphemism for wine club.”

There’s no doubt about it. Food and drink are important elements of any social gathering, so when a friend of mine said that she wanted to start a book club—the kind of book club where we casually discussed a book while also socializing, drinking wine, and eating chocolate—I immediately asked, “When’s our first meeting?”

But what happens after a few months of rounding up friends, picking book titles, and opening a few bottles of wine? Good things, I hope.  But they could be even better. You could kick things up a notch at your next book club meeting by serving exciting cocktails to complement your book pick.

How do you decide which drinks go with your group read? Here are some ideas for you:

Create cocktails that reflect the book’s time period. Take a book set in the Great War, like Maisie Dobbs, Birdsong, or The Summer Before the War, and treat your historical fiction-loving book buddies to a Sidecar, Gin Rickey, or French 75. Recipes for these cocktails are easily found online.

Let’s say your book club pick is full of mystique and magic. Why not dazzle your fellow readers with a cocktail that smokes, sparkles, glows, or changes color? If that’s too much work, you could simply serve a Black Magic cocktail using black vodka, simple syrup, and lime juice.

Another option is to focus on the author’s favorite beverage. If you’re reading Hemingway, have a Mojito. Fitzgerald? A Gin Rickey. Faulkner? A mint julep. And what about the lady writers? If you’re reading Dorothy Parker, mix up a whiskey Sour.  J.K. Rowling is a gin and tonic gal. Margaret Atwood doesn’t mess around with mixers. She favors a single-malt Scotch. And what would Jane Austen do? She’d raise a toast with a glass of red wine. If you want to add some cool pizzazz to that wine, just add ice, sparkling water, and a twist of lime and you’ll have a Regency Spritzer. It’s the perfect accompaniment to that late afternoon book club meeting.

In The Whispered Word, the second installment in my Secret, Book, and Scone Society mystery series, the women in my fictional book club enjoy seasonal cocktails.  They meet at an outdoor bar with a Japanese Zen garden. Sitting under the stars, they talk about how summer is fading into fall.  In this scene, they’re sipping Indian Summer cocktails—rum, melon liqueur, and pineapple juice. Served in a chilled martini glass and garnished with a translucent apple slice, they’re as refreshing as an autumnal evening.

Nora Pennington, my main character and the owner of Miracle Books, doesn’t always want to serve alcohol during her book club meetings. This raises an excellent point. Make sure to offer mocktails with the same ingredients as your themed cocktails. Simply replace the alcohol with club soda or sparkling grape juice, depending on the recipe, so that your friends can enjoy an alcohol-free alternative.

No matter what your book club imbibes, your meetings are bound to be fabulous. After all, you’re getting together to talk about books. And what’s more intoxicating than a good book?

In New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams’ intriguing new Secret, Book, and Scone Society novel, Nora Pennington and her fiction loving friends in small-town Miracle Springs, North Carolina, encounter a young woman desperately in need of a new beginning. . .

Nora Pennington, owner of Miracle Books, believes that a well-chosen novel can bring healing and hope. But she and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society know that sometimes, practical help is needed too. Such is the case with the reed-thin girl hiding in the fiction section of Nora’s store, wearing a hospital ID and a patchwork of faded bruises. She calls herself Abilene, and though Nora and her friends offer work, shelter, and a supportive ear, their guest isn’t ready to divulge her secrets. But when a customer is found dead in an assumed suicide, Nora uncovers a connection that points to Abilene as either a suspect—or another target.

Summer’s end has brought other new arrivals to Miracle Springs too. Entrepreneur Griffin Kingsley opens Virtual Genie, a cyber business that unloads people’s unwanted goods for cash. With the town in an economic slump and folks hurting for money, Virtual Genie and its owner are both instantly popular. A patient listener, Griffin dispenses candy to children and strong coffee to adults, and seems like a bona fide gentleman. But Nora’s not inclined to judge a book by its cover. And when a second death hits town, Nora and her intrepid friends must help the new, greenhorn sheriff discern fact from fiction—and stop a killer intent on bringing another victim’s story to a close . . .