To celebrate the US publication of Goodnight from London on May 2nd, I invited a small group of friends and family to join me at Famous Last Words in Toronto’s super-cool Junction neighborhood. The book-themed cocktail bar opened last year, and since then has acquired a reputation for being the place to go for literary launches and book club gatherings. Not only does proprietor Marlene Thorne create a signature cocktail for each event, but she also makes a donation to a local literacy charity on your behalf. If you live in Toronto, or are visiting, please consider dropping by — you are in for a treat.
Recently Marlene invited me over to Famous Last Words so I could taste-test the cocktail she has created for my party: The Ruby Sutton. She did a lot of research ahead of time, since she wanted to come up with something that reflected something of the setting of Goodnight from London. Marlene based her creation on the Ward 8, a popular whisky-based drink from the 1940s; although some of the ingredients would have been unobtainable in Britain during the war, we decided to focus on the spirit (pun intended) and delicious taste of the cocktail. Its lovely pink color, a nod to my heroine’s name, is a welcome bonus.
In The Ruby Sutton, the smokiness of the Scotch adds interest, the citrus juices contribute some welcome brightness, the orange bitters help to balance out any lingering muddiness from the whisky, and the grenadine — homemade if possible — provides sweetness and color. Serve with a maraschino cherry and a side of historical fiction and you’ll be set for a delightful evening with your book club!
The Ruby Sutton
1-1/2 ounces Glenlivet 12-year (or your preferred single-malt Scotch)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce grenadine (recipe for a homemade version follows)
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
To make homemade grenadine syrup: combine 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice (such as POM) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Add 4 drops orange flower water (optional). Will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week.