On a chilly Saturday afternoon in January I travel to Hermann Missouri to spend time with Shane Crash. The young author grew up in Hermann, a river town that has had a renascence as a tourist destination known for picturesque wineries set upon rolling hills. He’s back visiting family and judging from his general aversion to the place, it’s not exactly a happy homecoming.
We meet up at Simon’s, a waterfront bar to throw down drinks, chain smoke, and plan our upcoming pulp double-novella. His call is American Honey whiskey, also a favorite drink for Emmet, the main character in Crash’s debut novel Forest Life. I order my usual, Sapphire and tonic. We set up a rudimentary work station at the bar, where we open up our laptops. Crash, who mostly writes at night, is decidedly sluggish as he taps away on the outline for Tabula Rasa.
The bar is empty, save for a few locals. In between drinking and smoking and writing, we take turns picking tunes on the jukebox. Crash flashes a wicked smile as his next selection blares out of the speakers: “Straight outta Compton, crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube from the gang called Niggas Wit Attitudes.” Judging by their dirty look, the locals are apparently not N.W.A. fans.
The afternoon progresses to night and the bar starts filling up. Crash begins to perk up like a vampire at sundown. I’m buzzing with nicotine and alcohol and scramble to find overnight accommodations. The bartender helps me secure a room at a bed and breakfast within walking, or rather stumbling distance. A cute blonde and her girlfriend soon join us, where they catch up with the young author. Crash went to school with the blonde who has recently returned to the area.
A DJ begins playing top forty hits and I dance like a maniac. Crash shakes his head and groans at the Black Eyed Peas song. He despises pop music; it’s a wonder we are friends.
Before we know it, it is closing time. I settle up my staggering bar tab and go to retrieve Crash who is fending off a sultry hispanic cougar pulling him by the cardigan toward the door. She leaves dejected. We coerce our new friends into an after party at my room at a bed and breakfast where I have a bottle of American Honey whiskey chilling in the mini-fridge. The night continues in a cloud of smoke and a torrent of booze. Crash may disagree, but Hermann isn’t so bad in my book.
I invited Shane Crash to pair his novel Forest Life with a cocktail as part of my Books and Booze series. He writes:
A Vesper martini is the cocktail that Bond creates in Casino Royale, he names it after his love interest, Vesper Lynd, who tragically dies. I find it a very fitting cocktail in its parallel with Forest Life, a drink reminiscent of a great romantic love cut short by death. I put it into the novel as an amusing allusion and I found it ironic that Emmett would order this as his cocktail of choice when despairing over his lost love, Lenai.
What follows is an excerpt from Forest Life where a green version of a Vesper figures in:
We leave a gift shop with a bag of Conch shells. Before we continue our walking, I stop off and get a few shots and a drink to go. I continue walking with Josef, my hand filled with a green Vesper. A green Vesper is a variation of a Vesper martini. It’s an amalgamation of gin, vodka, and absinthe. I started drinking it after reading about it in a James Bond book. It warms my bones.
The sky is filled with light and the air full of songs. The wind carries the aroma of Latakia and Fired-Cured tobacco. The streets grow less populated. The songs grow faint and starts brighten as we move away from the crowd. I began to imagine a silhouette of my lost love moving through the haze toward me.
Green Vesper Recipe
- Three measures of gin
- One measure of vodka
- Half measure of absinth
Shake it very well unti it’s ice-cold, then garnish with a lemon peel.
Shane Crash is an American author and activist. He’s published several zines centered on alleviating poverty and homelessness. In 2009 he co-authored a collection of satire and poetry in the short zine, Lost Thoughts. From the age of 21 to 23, Shane traveled the world, voluntarily homeless, living out of a backpack, traveling from city to city. In 2010 he released Travel Logs, a short chronicle of his travels across the globe. His most recently release is a novel called Forest Life.
Shane often speaks on nonviolence and social responsibility. He runs Pacifist Army, a volunteer group of nonviolent activists who raise awareness on various social issues, including nonviolence and poverty. He’s a fan of marvel comics and pizza.