Potions Library Booktails, with mixologist Lindsay Merbaum

In Abigail Stewart’s novel, The Drowned Woman (Posted by Whiskey Tit, May 5, 2022) Jeanette, 23, has traveled west to start a new life alongside a graduate program in art history. The narrative initially reveals little of Jeanette’s past, offering a portrait of her as she is now – creatively doling out her minimal dollars for drinks, snacks and cigarettes, enjoying alone time in her austere apartment – each of his actions and decisions revealing, but at the same time obscuring his identity by raising more unanswered questions. Jeanette is not so much carefree as indifferent to certain expectations or standards. For her, happiness is “opera music pumped into rented library headphones, second-hand dresses, a stolen dress, regular sex, enough money for a pack of cigarettes, the plants she had grown from cuttings, scotch, art books and writing about them…” When she made a connection with Oliver, the TA for the Religion in Art course she follows, an unforeseen path is revealed, one that will alter the course of Jeanette’s career trajectory, while shaping – or perhaps digging into – creative and complex aspects of herself. being. Ultimately, she leaves Oliver and others, including the reader, to ponder what they really know and understand about this talented woman’s tale of art, identity, and desire.

A contemporary parallel to the feminist classic awakeningAbigail Stewart’s novel is a beautiful and pointed meditation on identity and motherhood, a book as timely as it is engaging.

As Jeanette’s favorite, scotch serves as the base for this book, mixed with cloves for Oliver’s rich scent and spices in the chai donated by Jeanette’s only friend, a convenience store owner named Vihan. Agave adds a touch of sweetness, a nod to Frida Kahlo: in one of her essays, Jeanette writes: “Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait, 1953 illustrates the places in her body that she felt were not the his, the places hurt, sore, and needed ‘fixin’…” The Surrealist painter’s favorite drink was actually tequila, which also derives from agave. Meanwhile, the tangerine juice represents all the tangerines Oliver brings to Jeanette, as if “afraid she might get scurvy”, and the blood orange juice adds a sour note, his color symbol of the wild beauty and bloody affairs of womanhood. Finally, aromatic bitters are a nod to Old Fashioneds (which must contain bitters) and bitter truths that we sometimes struggle to face. The combined effect is mysteriously reminiscent of raspberry, with warm but also sweet citrus notes. In other words, it’s a drink you won’t see coming.

This bookend is presented on a textured canvas layered in blue, purple and black tones, with a red, abstract, bolt-like flower dividing the center of the composition. The book stands on the left side of the board, the glossy base of the display reflecting waves of blue, like water. The small, vintage-style cocktail glass — the kind you might find at a thrift store, if you’re lucky — stands in front of the book, framed by sprigs of asparagus and fresh purple, pink, green, and white flowers.

The Drowned Woman


  • 2 ounces of scotch
  • 0.5 oz agave
  • 0.5 oz fresh mandarin juice
  • 0.5 oz fresh blood orange juice
  • 3 whole cloves
  • A dash of aromatic bitters
  • Garnish: a slice of blood orange


First, prepare the juices. Then add all the ingredients to a shaker, along with a large cube or piece of ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a stemmed glass — watch out for the cloves! — and garnish with a slice of blood orange, if desired.

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