Most Saturday afternoons, you can find Kansas City author Randy Attwood drinking Sapphire and tonics at his favorite watering hole, Chez Charlie. Don’t let the name fool you; according to Attwood there’s not much “Chez” about it. For the uninitiated, the dive bar is hard to find — there is no sign out front — but, for those that stumble upon it there is plenty of shabby charm. The jukebox plays old jazz 45s. The men’s room is wallpapered with Playboy centerfolds. A wall of photos serves as a legacy to dead regulars who passed on. For the really adventurous, free chili, soup, and hotdogs is served on Friday.
I invited Attwood to share his perfect libation for his latest book Blow Up the Roses. In his own words:
“A Manhattan pairs well with the very dark, suspense/thriller Blow Up the Roses. My Manhattans are made with rye instead of bourbon. The red vermouth provides enough sweetness. One part vermouth to four or five parts rye (Jim Beam works fine). Dash of bitters. I like to use a cocktail shaker and prefer those big old cubes from the plastic trays in the freezer. Small ice cubes make for a watery drink. I stir the drink first and then give it a few shakes. Looks lovely served up. No garnish. There are no garnishes in Blow Up the Roses, either. Manhattans are for sipping. The reader will need a rest after taking gulps from Blow Up the Roses. A lot of awful things start happening on the cul d’sac where this novel takes place. What is Mr. Brown doing in his basement? Why did Mr. Keene disappear? Who killed the Riker girls? Why does Mr. Califano have a recurring nightmare that finds him a rose garden blowing up all around him. The language of flowers can be terrible blunt. They can also save your life. Take a sip and find out. Don’t forget the bitters.”
Randy Attwood grew up on the grounds of a Kansas insane asylum where his father was a dentist and the State provided housing on the grounds. He attended The University of Kansas during the troubled 1960s, getting a degree in art history. After stints writing and teaching in Italy and Japan, he had a 16-year career in newspapers as reporter, editor, and column writer, winning major awards in all categories. He turned to health care public relations and served as director of University Relations at The University of Kansas Medical Center. Attwood finished his career as media relations officer of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Now retired, he lives in Kansas City and pursues publishing his works of fiction and creating new ones.
If you can’t make it to KC and Chez Charlie anytime soon, drop by Attwood’s blog. Check out his photograph series of pairings for his other books. His novels, including Blow Up the Roses, are available at Amazon and other online retailers.