SAN DIEGO – You can’t dress like them, even if you were willing to put on the required underwear. You can’t dine like them unless you have a generous staff budget and an over-performing metabolism. (So! Lots! Cakes!) And you can’t fight like them, even if you hate your neighbor and his infernal leaf blower.
Even if you love a day of lazing and plotting and an evening of quadrilles and bodice tearing, you can’t live like the aristocrats the bon ton of Netflix’s delightful series “Bridgerton.”
But thanks to a new book by former San Diego writer Amy Finley, you can drink like them.
Using the cheeky pen name Lady Thornwood, Finley penned “The Regency Book of Drinks: Quaffs, Quips, Tipples, and Tales from Grosvenor Square”, a new collection of deeply researched and eminently drinkable cocktail recipes shaped by the period. Regency from 1811 to 1820 which provided the historic setting for “Bridgerton”. The series is now in its second season.
Adapted from the novels by Julia Quinn, ‘Bridgerton’ debuted during the closed Christmas of 2020. It quickly became one of Netflix’s most-watched shows as pandemic-weary viewers swooned over the novels. Regency, the social machinations worthy of Jane Austen, and the flat narration of the mysterious tabloid writer known as Lady Whistledown.
One of those viewers was Finley.
It was early 2021, and the cook, food writer and first-time winner of “The Next Food Network Star” had just finished writing a 500-page in-house book on bartending and bar operations for Consortium Holdings, the San Diego-based hotel group. behind high-impact restaurants and bars such as Born & Raised, Craft & Commerce and Raised by Wolves.
A lifelong lover of Austen and Charlotte Bronte novels, as well as an expert on cocktails and cocktail history, Finley had the idea to write a book that combined “Bridgerton” sensibility with her now encyclopedic knowledge of anything alcoholic. .
“That era was a really fruitful time for cocktails and a really amazing time in history,” Finley said from Burlington, Vermont, where she moved last year to work on her master’s degree in food systems at the University of Vermont.
“Trade routes were expanding and the British Empire was expanding, and that gave people access to spices, sugar and other goods that they didn’t have before. And all of that trickled down to the society and was becoming commonplace. I thought it would be such a fun way to explore this historic moment and make some great drinks too.
The fiery result is “The Regency Book of Drinks”, which features more than 75 cocktail recipes, most of which are original Finley creations. The book is divided into chapters inspired by the society of the “Bridgerton” era and the ladies and gentlemen who keep this dizzying world spinning.
In the chapter “The Evening Soiree”, Finley – in the omniscient voice of Lady Thornwood – extols the convivial power of “deceptively powerful” bubbly champagne-based cocktails. The “Social Graces” chapter celebrates the charms of the punchbowl, where dancing couples can cool off (and perhaps spark a wedding match) over glasses of the “Accomplished Swoon,” along with gin, raspberry syrup, lemon juice, rose water and seltzer water.
There are low-alcohol options in the “Delicate Daytime Drinks” chapter and stronger “heavy” cocktails in the “Members Only” section. There’s even a chapter dedicated to soft drinks, many of which contain fresh juices and homemade simple syrups.
“I definitely wanted to include non-drinkers,” Finley said, which also includes a section on board games, as well as a chapter on the spirits, tools, and glassware you’ll need to set up your bar. Regency.
“During the pandemic, some of us drank too much and some of us swore. There are so many great ways to use flavored infusions and syrups. We really wanted to have something for every type of drinker and every situation.
Whether she guides her kind readers through the making of a “cunning trim” or warns them of the dangers of underestimating a “sharp-tongued woman”, Lady Thornwood, who loves science, who fights patriarchy and who likes a joke, is a spin. narrator with eyes worthy of Queen Charlotte.
And if you play your mixology cards right, maybe the queen herself will drop by your party for a lasting snack. If Finley is successful, Queen Charlotte might even bring her own recipes.
“I love imagining a sequel to this book that would be told from Queen Charlotte’s perspective, because she’s an absolutely fascinating character to me,” Finley said. “I have this idea in mind to call it something like ‘Comfort Me With Canapes: How to Live, Love and Eat Like a Regency Royal.’
“I can totally imagine another book with that Regency voice. I could use her as a character to get into food and drink. And houseplants, maybe.
Here’s a pleasant and deliciously simple drink with which to toast the very banality of a marriage without spectral patriarchs. Reader, before accepting a ring from a suitor, you have to exhaust the subject of the father of your future – especially if the relationship seems… complicated.
1 ounce Salers aperitif liqueur
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
Fill a highball glass almost to the top with cracked rocks from a solid block of ice, or 1 inch ice cubes or a spear of frozen ice. Combine the aperitif, vermouth, lime juice and syrup in the bottom of a shaker. Add a medium-sized sliver of ice, lightly crushed into chunks, or an ice cube or two; close the shaker and whisk until the ice cream is almost completely melted. Add about 2 ounces of seltzer to the shaker, then empty its contents, including any lingering ice, into the glass. If the cocktail does not rise nearly to the rim of the glass, add no more than about an ounce of extra seltzer water. Garnish with a thin flower (or a wedge of lime) and a well-grounded relief.
Excerpt from “The Regency Book of Drinks: Quaffs, Quips, Tipples, and Tales from Grosvenor Square” by Amy Finley