April is National Poetry Month! While I’m a believer that you could—and should—celebrate the poetic arts all the time, this month is definitely a fine moment to do more of it. Also, we have amazingly creative bartenders in Seattle! Another thing to celebrate. Put those two things together, and it starts to get mighty magical, as shown by the following five poetically inspired drinks, which are perfect to sip while reading a poem or two.
Having a drink named for one of the true tops-of-all-times poets is a good way to start. And at this Capitol Hill bar they pay homage to the master in a wonderfully Italian way, with Malfy Limone gin (a gin from Italy distilled with lemons), Candolini Ruta grappa, Campari (almost as legendary in Italy as the poet), Italian vermouth and Mandarin liqueur. While his Divine Comedy is the popular poetic touchpoint, if diving into a mountain of terza rima while drinking is daunting, maybe reading the sonnet “Love is but One Thing with the Gentle Heart” is a better choice.
Year’s Pleasant King
Created by bar manager Ariana Vitale for the downtown spot’s recently launched spring menu, this cocktail is named after the Thomas Nashe poem “Spring, the Sweet Spring.” The poetically inclined Vitale loves “the author’s use of onomatopoeia throughout the poem,” and you will, too, as well as loving the lush and elegant mix she’s crafted in honor of said verse: local Big Gin, a goji berry syrup, Spanish Yzaguirre sweet vermouth and cardamom bitters, all topped with Spanish sparkling cava and a nasturtium garnish.
Stampede Cocktail Club
I feel this rollicking Fremont stop would be happy if you picked your favorite desert poem or poet to read from feelingly with this drink from the American Mythology section of their menu. I’d probably pick “With Thee, In the Desert” by the legendary Emily Dickinson. While it’s short, it’s dreamy to read, and then read again, between sips of the tequila, passionfruit, pineapple, lime, agave syrup and refreshing, aromatic, hintingly bitter Peychaud’s Aperitivo combination the drink boasts.
New York Sour
While this might not seem a drink automatically poetic, it dates back to the late 1800s (and could be based on a poem theoretically), and New York has been home to many memorable poets, including one of my all-time favs, Frank O’Hara, who perhaps as well as any captured the city in words. With that, reading (and it begs to be read out loud) his poem “Song (I’m Going to New York)” while sipping a mixture of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon and rye, lemon, sugar, egg white and red wine, at a cozy Ballard stop is wonderful and fun.
Edgar Allan Patron
Okay, this isn’t one to have out, but an idea if you decide to have a National Poetry Month celebration at your house (perhaps where everyone dresses as their favorite poet?), which seems a dandy idea, as it comes from the Seattle-based caterer. But a drink named after one of the most influential American poets and writers was too much to ignore. Plus, it’s a lovely mingling of blueberries, Patron Blanco tequila, triple sec and lime goes well when reading “Annabel Lee.”