READ IT (AGAIN) | Pairing The Lord Of The Rings With A Cocktail At Robson’s “Forage”

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous Lord Of The Rings series.

Why You Should Read It Again: The Lord Of The Rings – considered one of the best books of the millennium – is as deserving of a second read as Samwise Gamgee is deserving of a second breakfast. Admittedly, the first read can be a bit of a trek, similar to the storyline itself. When it’s read a second time, however, one fully appreciates the finer details in language, song, and character, thus making it a more robust reading experience. The Lord Of The Rings is recognized as more than just a story about destroying “the one ring to rule them all”, it’s about letting go – of the past, of previous identity, of wanting to control everything. These deeper themes in the story can easily go unnoticed among the excitement of a first read. In the same way Bilbo craves a second adventure after returning home from his exploits in The Hobbit, you too will crave the adventure Tolkien brings by reading it again.

Pair It With: We could learn a thing or two from the eating habits of Hobbits. In addition to taking on a harrowing quest to destroy the one ring and the Dark Lord, Hobbits are also talented eaters and drinkers. This leads us to wonder: if Hobbits were to pass through Vancouver, what would they drink and where? We reckon one stop would be Robson’s Forage. With its penchant for only the freshest, most sustainable local ingredients, not only does it sound like the sort of place that Hobbits and Elves would likely frequent, but it also offers a most suitable beverage with which to quench an adventurer’s thirst: The Savory cocktail. It’s made with dill, Okanagan Spirits’ Aquavitus, and Victoria Spirits’ Gin. It looks like something straight out of Middle Earth and tastes that way, too. Though heavy up front in gin botanicals, it ends on notes of fennel and anise with the slightest hint of dill.

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READ IT (AGAIN) | Pair ‘Little Women’ With A Clover Club Refashioned At “L’Abattoir”

December 12, 2013 

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Louisa May Alcott’s 1880 classic, Little Women.

Why You Should Read It Again: At first read, the book comes off as a typical coming-of-age book for young girls. It follows young Jo March and her sisters Meg, Beth, and Amy in their journey to womanhood. It’s also about challenging expected societal roles, with Jo aspiring to become a writer (an occupation largely reserved for men at the time) and turning down a proposal for marriage. Little Women is an ode to keep going after what you want despite what others may say about your status in the world.

Pair It With: Although the March sisters were likely not the type to drink beverages of the alcoholic variety, we’re going to go ahead and assume that if any of them were to drink (when they came of age) they would probably go for something along the lines of L’Abattoir’s Clover Club Refashioned. The drink is made of raspberries, sweet vermouth, mint, fresh lemon and gin – sweet and refreshing with a little sass, just like Jo.

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READ IT (AGAIN) | Burn Through Fahrenheit 451 With A Hot Mezcal Sipper On The Drive

November 13, 2013 

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Ray Bradbury’s master work, Fahrenheit 451.

Why You Should Read It Again | Fahrenheit 451 is considered one of the greatest dystopian novels of all time, tackling censorship, the suppression of ideas, and propaganda. Bradbury once stated that the book was about “the dangers of an illiterate society infatuated with mass media,” which is amazingly prescient since it was published 50 years ago, almost to the day. Clearly the dangers have yet to pass! More importantly, the book encourages resistance to passivity and apathy. It tells us to not be so caught up in our own concerns; to look around once in a while and taste the rain. Cheers to that!

Pair It With | A drink with heat. We would suggest something along the lines of Mezcal. The obvious venue for that is La Mezcaleria on Commercial Drive, and the obvious drink is their Lucia’s Garden. The fiery burn of its chipotle-infused Mezcal combined with the freshness of mint and the sweetness of agave makes it the perfect match for Ray Bradbury’s darkly balanced tale of censorship and liberation.

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READ IT (AGAIN) | Pair Heller’s “Catch 22″ With An Aviation Cocktail At Mamie Taylor’s

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Joseph Heller’s timeless 1961 World War II novel, Catch 22.

Why You Should Read It Again | Catch-22 is Heller’s masterpiece. The anti-war satire is filled with humour of all sorts – though mainly of the dark and paradoxical type. The story follows the mis-adventures of Yossarian, a bombardier who is constantly forced to fly more missions due to the infamous ‘Catch-22′ while weaving back and forth non-linearly in time through a web of characters and sub-plots that make for an wonderfully entertaining read.

Pair It With | Leading up to your next unanticipated flying assignment, it’s probably best to sip slow from an aptly named Aviation. Made of gin, maraschino, lemon, and liqueur de violette, it’s a drink that’s just as “swift and straining” as each of Yossarian’s flying missions. The chosen venue for this drink is Chinatown’s Mamie Taylor’s. With their modern American provisions and decorations of mortality (taxidermy), it’s just the sort of place the late and cynical Joseph Heller would appreciate.

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READ IT (AGAIN) | Pair Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” With A Spiced Margarita At Lolita’s

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Vladimir Nabokov’s scandalous 1955 novel, Lolita.

Why You Should Read It Again | Although widely considered to be an “erotic novel”, Lolita is just as widely celebrated as one of the best books of the 20th century. Despite its highly controversial theme (a middle-aged literature professor becomes obsessed and then sexually involved with 12-year-old Dolores, nicknamed “Lolita”), Nabokov’s writing has been compared to the prose of James Joyce. Read it again because its literary pastiche deserves as least two or three reads; you’re bound to find something new in every read.

Pair It With | Coincidentally, The Cinematheque and the Vancouver Art Gallery have collaborated on a collection of film screenings in honour of the gallery’s current exhibition, Grand Hotel. This week, the film centre is showing the 1962 Stanley Kubrick adaptation of the novel (featuring a brilliant performance by Peter Sellers), so why not brush up on the storyline prior to attending the film? Thumb its pages at the West End’s appropriately named Lolita’s for a spicy chilli margarita before catching before catching the show.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pairing Steinbeck’s East Of Eden With A Stiff Sipper At “The Acorn”

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel, East of Eden.

Why You Should Read It Again: It is Steinbeck’s ode to the Salinas Valley, also known as the “salad bowl of the world”. He wrote the book to describe the agriculturally rich region (think broccoli, celery, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, strawberries) to his two young sons while adding his own life experiences to the tale. Considered Steinbeck’s greatest work, East of Eden was inspired by the fourth chapter of Genesis; aka the story of Cain and Abel. In the thick of this sticky summer heat, I can’t think of a better time to read about lush California valleys and the complicated relationship between the Trask and Hamilton family.

Pair it With: Something fresh with a kick, like the Mirror Lake cocktail at The Acorn on Main. Made of ginger, bourbon, mint, lime, ginger beer and bitters, the drink is refreshing and satisfying, just like a Steinbeck story.

READ IT (AGAIN): Pair “The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” With An Alibi Pint

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by Marcus Kaulback | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’re checking Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.

Why You Should Read It Again: Classic is too weak a word to describe this novella, the very title of which has come to occupy a space in the lexicons of psychiatry and sociology. This “fine bogey tale” suffers though from its notoriety, for everybody and their dog now knows the mystery of who Mr. Hyde is. Nevertheless, the beautiful language and effusive description Stevenson employs on every page really do transport you to the streets and parlours of Victorian London…and isn’t some kind of transportation the point of every good novel.

Pair It With: Wait for a truly wet day and repair to the basement of the Alibi Room, housed in a DTES heritage building on Alexander Street. Get (re)acquainted with the academic and gentlemanly Dr. Jekyll and the irascible and remorseless Mr. Hyde over your own personal transforming draught (preferably the limited release from Iain Hill at Yaletown Brew Pub that Alibi is currently pouring). Described as an Imperial Stout with a “hefty whiskey kick”, it weighs in at about 9% ABV, and promises to give you that bubbly feeling Jekyll knew all too well: “There was something strange in my sensations, something indescribably new and, from its very novelty, incredibly sweet. I felt younger, lighter, happier in body…”

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair A Venetian Spritz On Boneta’s Wee Patio With “Death In Venice”

by Marcus Kaulback | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’re checking Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella, “Death In Venice”.

Why You Should Read It Again: An elderly German writer vacations in Venice as a guilty reward for a lifetime of ascetic diligence, and falls into obsession over a young and beautiful boy. Despite it being a very philosophical look at wisdom versus beauty, at restraint versus lust, and is correspondingly dry and long-winded at points, it’s an engrossing and beautifully written work. It remains a powerful look at the potency of desire – an emotion all of us encounter every day – and at what it can push us to do.

Pair It With: Von Aschenbach, the abstinent Spartan that he is, doesn’t drink, and so gives us no hints as to what to sip while following his self-loathing journey. But the Venetian Spritz – an aperitif cocktail of white wine, sparkling mineral water, and either Aperol, Campari, or Cynar – is a refreshing choice, and one that will help you transport yourself to the Lido beach in your mind (content and thankful that yours isn’t the mind of that tortured and lascivious German writer). Hunker down on Boneta’s patio and indulge.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair Capote’s “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” With A Gin Sour At 900 West

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

“A girl doesn’t read this sort of thing without her lipstick” – yup, Holly Golightly speaks the truth. Most of the time. If you loved the movie you’ll dig the book. Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a testament to the writer’s relationship with the women in his life. Written in 1950 – with a slew of girls claiming to be the inspiration behind the quirky and glamorous playgirl, Holly Golightly – the story follows Fred and Holly in their year-long friendship.

Why you should read it again: It’s a story about that person who appears to have their shit together but on the inside they have just as many insecurities and worries as the rest of us. The effort they put into keeping up appearances is a symptom of their insecurity. That’s Holly Golightly. The novel demystifies the movie and helps buffs to better understand where and under what circumstances the film was created. “It was the most miscast film I’ve ever seen,” said Capote. “Holly Golightly was real – a tough character, not an Audrey Hepburn type at all. The film became a mawkish valentine to New York City and Holly, and, as a result, was thin and pretty, whereas it should have been rich and ugly.” Who knew!?

Pair it with: Truman Capote’s story calls for what he refers to as a White Angel: one half vodka, one half gin and no vermouth. Well, since Holly Golightly is not one to play by the rules I’m going to go ahead and change things up a bit and suggest a different gin cocktail, a Gin Sour. That’s gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup, and no vermouth. Sip yours and read a chapter in a cozy seat at the 900 West Lounge (in the Hotel Vancouver, just across the Burrard St. from Tiffany’s).

(If you have seventeen minutes of free time, listen to Truman Capote reading from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. One of my favourite parts is 3:35; Holly’s thoughts on Hemingway’s age. It’s a treat.)

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” With A Cocktail At Chambar

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. 

Why You Should Read It Again: Two words. Atticus Finch. Also, it serves as one of the most beloved novels ever written, and one of the first to ever tackle the theme of tolerance. The story is told through the eyes of a young, appropriately named girl called Scout who – together with brother Jem and friend Dill – finds herself for the first time witnessing social injustice as her father, the great Atticus Finch, defends a man wrongly accused of rape. It’s a solid, uplifting reminder that there are still some pretty rad people in the world who fight for what’s right, and a welcome change from all the novels that leave us drained and heartbroken.

Pair it With: The main characters in this book are either too younger to drink or they type to happily pass. So we’ll give you a couple of options here. First, the perfect drink to sip on while stalking Boo Radley from the front porch in the sticky heat of Southern summer is a Spanish Fly from Chambar (orange-infused vermouth, Campari, sherry, house made cherry syrup, and whiskey bitters). Second, Atticus Finch seems like the kind of man to never let a day go by without a good cup of coffee. We therefore suggest a visit to the beautiful Matchstick Coffee Roasters over on Fraser Street. Grab one of their delicious coffees, a croissant, and a chair and get to reading.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair “A Farewell To Arms” With Some Quality Whisky At The Shebeen

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Ernest Hemingway’s 1929 novel, A Farewell To Arms.

Why You Should Read It (Again) | Hemingway gives us everything he’s got in this bestseller. It’s a classic of love and war with just the right dose of both. The story follows Frederic “Tenente” Henry, an American serving in the Italian Red Cross in World War I, and his affections for a nurse named Catherine Barkley. Parts of it are obviously autobiographical, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

Pair It With | There were 40 occasions in which someone takes a drink in this book, of either grappa, brandy, whisky, Cognac, vermouth, gin or wine. While they’re all tempting choices, we’re thinking a quiet corner in The Shebeen would suit these pages perfectly. Choose a sipper from their ridiculously extensive whisky list and ease into it…

‘What are you thinking, darling?’
‘About whiskey.’
‘What about whiskey?’
‘About how nice it is.’
Catherine made a face. ‘All right,’ she said.

Go ahead and order two.

READ IT (AGAIN): Pair Some Traditional Egg Nog With Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

December 20, 2012 

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Charles Dickens’ classic 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol.

Why You Should Read It (Again): Chances are high that you’ll see some form of Dicken’s classic novella, “A Christmas Carol” in the days leading up to the twenty-fifth. And with Christmas landing at the end of the calendar year, the books’ many Ghosts (of Christmas Past, Present, Future) help to facilitate the kind of personal reflection that gets muted by the seasons’ rampant consumerism. It’s also a quickie; short and sweet.

Pair It With: Keep it traditional with some a good old fashioned Egg Nog. It’s arguably one of the few things more evocatively “Christmasy” than Dickens’ Scrooge and Tiny Tim. There are several bars around town doing proper ones right now, but there’s no better place than home next to a decorated tree and a fire. To get you started, here’s an Egg Nog recipe from 1888.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair Wilde’s Dorian Gray With An Absinthe Cocktail At “Pourhouse”

December 4, 2012 

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Oscar Wilde’s timeless 1890 novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Why you should Read It (Again): The Picture of Dorian Gray was Wilde’s masterpiece and the only novel published by the Irish poet/playwright. It was widely considered an immoral work in its time, and as such it was subject to criticism, outrage and, ultimately, censorship. It’s simply a Faustian story about a young man whose notions of human nature, beauty, and youth are corrupted by opium hedonism a convincing mentor, with fatal consequences.

Pair it with: An absinthe cocktail at Pourhouse in Gastown, and do it all alone; consumed by a desire to stay young and beautiful. Oscar Wilde was particularly fond of this drink, and we think – after a glass or two – that it would help him feel even more at home in the bar’s Victorian embrace.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair “The Catcher In The Rye” With A Scotch And Soda At The Sylvia

November 17, 2012 

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked J.D. Salinger’s timeless 1951 classic, The Catcher In The Rye.

Why you should Read It (Again): 63 years ago, J.D. Salinger not only let the young but cynical Holden Caulfield loose on New York City, but also allowed him two hundred and fourteen pages to tell us all about it. His misadventures are full of tall tales, profanity, promiscuity and disillusioned opinions on all subjects, which is to say that they appeal directly to the adolescent in all of us. That it continues to be one of the most challenged and oft-censored books in American history is reason enough to pick it up again. Plus it’s Fall, which is the perfect time of year for this book, and we wouldn’t mind hearing people bring back the word “phoney”.

Pair it with: a Scotch & Soda a la Holden whilst wearing your finest red deer hunting hat in an old hotel lobby, ideally The Sylvia (Hotel Vancouver or The Empress will also do).

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