In Boozo Veritas # 54 by Teege Braune
Anthology: Getting Drunk and Reading Stories
Saturday night I participated in a truly unique literary experience: Cole NeSmith’s Creative City Project sponsored Anthology: A Night of Stories and Spirits at Snap! Space.
To a soundtrack of gypsy jazz provided by The Cook Trio, writers Jared Silvia, McKenzie Parker, Keith Kolakowski, and Vanessa Blakeslee (whose debut collection Train Shots was recently released by Orlando-based publisher Burrow Press) and myself took turns reading original work sitting in an easy chair on a stage set up to look like Masterpiece Theater before a wonderfully large and responsive audience.
Lest we writers imagine that the packed house was brought by the allure of our brilliant work alone, signature, craft cocktails designed by Matt of The Courtesy Bar were also served. Five cocktails to be exact, one for each story.
It probably comes as no surprise that I, a drunken writer who keeps a weekly blog called In Boozo Veritas about literature and alcohol, would consider having a cocktail based on a story I wrote one of the pinnacles of my career. My weird story about prop comedian Carrot Top fighting reptosapien-hummanoid monsters in Winter Park’s Kraft Azalea Garden inspired an equally unusual beverage that combined chai-infused Bacardi with simple syrup, lime, and carrot juice. While I would never have thought to mix these ingredients together myself or order the concoction in a bar, this just goes to show why I’m no mixologist. The delightfully off-center, bright orange elixir partnered perfectly with a tale about a man with bright orange hair who is addicted to drinking lizard blood.
Across the board, Matt did an excellent job taking cues from both odd details and a story’s overarching atmosphere to create drinks as rich in layers and subtleties as the literature from which they were derived. I found it a personal treat enjoying his mixture of scotch, lemon juice, lavender-infused simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, and darjeeling tea while listening to my good friend Jared Silvia read his story “Thursday.”
Having read this story in Burrow Press’s first collection Fragmentation long before I even knew Jared, it was my introduction to the work of someone who has become one of my favorite local writers. Jared’s story, narrated by a ponderous drifter whose adventure finds him indulging in his penchants for sunscreen, cheap wine, and the dirty, after-work smell of a Russian bartender, is equal parts funny, sad, and wonderfully resistant to easy interpretation.
Each of the stories contained an air of the mysterious and an open-ended quality that lent itself to the heavy consumption of top shelf spirits. As the Creative City Project scheduled two shows back to back (both of them sold out), by the time everything wrapped up around midnight the writers and our significant others were ten stories and ten cocktails deep, and quite frankly swimming in it. Some of us sobered up by stumbling up Mills Avenue towards Tako Cheena and then jumping right back into that pool of self abuse by finishing the night at Lil Indies where they were serving some very fine cocktails of their own and playing a fantastic set of soul and funk. As always an otherwise classy evening devolved into a foggy night of rowdy debauchery. The events that followed are worthy of their own lurid tale, one that would most likely inspire its own signature cocktail containing what? Bourbon, beer, horse radish, dog food, and Edy’s slow churned French silk ice cream perhaps? But that is a subject for another blog post and another reading, one that will hopefully never see the light of day. In the meantime, Cole has proven that the City Creative Project is an organization to keep your eye on. I for one am eager and excited to see what amazing events he hosts in the weeks and months to come.
Teege Braune (episode 72, episode 75, episode 77, episode 90, episode 102) is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.