Book Club Booze: April Showers Old Fashioned

As Zelda has written on here before, we here at Zelda and Scout participate in the time-honored tradition of the book club. On a regular basis, we gather our friends together to (ostensibly) discuss our tome of choice, usually over a meal of some kind. Our particular book club meets roughly every six weeks, alternates between fiction and non-fiction books, and only reads work by women and people of color.

Now, we take pride in the fact that we do spend a considerable portion of our meetings discussing the book at hand. But, like all good book clubs, we do it over food and drinks, and thus a conversation that starts with the book can often meander away from it entirely.

At our most recent meeting, we were discussing Severance by Ling Ma, and Zelda was playing the gracious hostess. (Note: We both thoroughly enjoyed this book — definitely pick it up if you’re looking for a new take on New York coming-of-age stories and post-apocalyptic fare!) In keeping with some of the book’s themes, we ordered in a veritable feast of Chinese take away. But Zelda, being Zelda, wanted to make something too. Inspired by the warm weather that had finally decided to grace our fair borough, she whipped us up a cocktail that was perfect for a Friday night in: a floral old fashioned.


With notes of smoke and chamomile, this drink was the perfect remedy to the early April showers that poured outside. The bite of the bourbon warmed us up from the wind and the rain outside, while the floral syrup reminded us that there were May flowers just around the corner. Though Zelda cannot personally attest to the sweet taste of this cocktail (someone had had a little too much fun at karaoke the night before and therefore chose not to partake — oh well, more for the rest of us!), Scout was more than happy to be her guinea pig. The verdict: a delicious libation perfect for an evening of books and laughs and friendship.


April Showers Old Fashioned (adapted from Saveur)


One cup sugar

One cup water

4 bags chamomile tea


Angostura bitters

Lemon peel for garnish (Zelda paired these with another Z&S standard, a Lavender Bee’s Knees, for the non-brown liquor folks in our group, so she already had lemons on hand.)


To make your infused simple syrup, combine the water, sugar, and chamomile tea in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute and then remove from heat to cool.

In a shaker full of ice, combine 2 oz bourbon, 1/2 oz simple syrup, and three dashes of bitters. Shake and then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice (or, ideally, containing one giant ice cube). Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!


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