Photos courtesy of the 2014 Eat Drink Read Write Festival, Birmingham, AL
“A Rose for Emily” is a 1930 short story by the American author William Faulkner. In the story, Miss Emily is a reclusive old Southern lady, a symbol of the antebellum years, now faded and marred by history. She never married, though she did once have a suitor who had told his friends he was “not the marrying kind” and disappeared before marrying her. Miss Emily has now died, and the ladies of the town are eager to see into the house that has been closed up for many years, often emanating distasteful odors. Behind a barred door, they find the decaying corpse of Emily’s old suitor lying in a bed, covered in dust. She had apparently poisoned him. An indention in the pillow next to him contains a grey hair, indicating that Miss Emily had, at least for some time, been sleeping in the bed next to the body.
This story inspired me toward perfume and flowers of the type one might associate with a lady like Miss Emily. The combination of Bristow Gin and Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka would create a perfect base. I added a wash of rosewater at the beginning and lavender bitters at the end to complete the floral notes. The drink needed something to mute its high proof, so I added Lillet Rosé, making this essentially a variation on a classic martini, but with a pretty serious floral twist.
A drink in tribute to Faulkner really needs some bourbon in it somewhere, and the wood notes of the bourbon help to balance the botanical elements. I chose Four Roses bourbon because the name fit the bill, and it’s a tasty, mild, mid-priced bourbon that plays well with others. Naturally, I garnished with actual roses.
A Rose for Emily
In a mixing glass, combine:
- 1.5 ounces Bristow Gin
- .5 ounces Cathead Honeysuckle vodka
- .5 ounces Four Roses bourbon
- .5 ounces Lillet Rosé
Fill with ice and stir to desired dilution.
Spray the inside of a coupe glass thoroughly with rosewater. Strain the cocktail ingredients into the glass. Add 2-3 drops of lavender bitters to finish. Garnish with a large rose petal or small rose bud.