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Booze + Book Pairings: Blindsight Cocktail and I HAVE THE ANSWER

Friday, April 24, 2020

Each week, WSU Press will be pairing our books with the insanely beautiful drink creations of Gates Otsuji, founder of Controlled Substances, a bar and beverage consultancy based in Brooklyn.

This week we have the Blindsight Cocktail and I Have the Answer.

This cocktail was inspired by the very brief story, “Get a Grip!” These stories are so well-written that it was difficult to pick just one, however in this particular story, our protagonist Maura suffers from agoraphobia, compounded by self-doubt and a history of emotional abuse. Maura’s situation seems quite relevant to our own – uncertainty about the future and ourselves, and an inability to leave the house for fear of our lives. Into this world storms Maura’s neighbor, May Keane, who to all appearances, seems quite deranged and insistent upon bringing imaginary characters into the perceived safety of Maura’s home. Over the course of just a few pages, Maura goes from insisting on her reality to supporting the world as seen by May Keane, freeing herself of her demons in the process. There’s a point in the story where Maura recalls a church in Belgium, designed to be nearly invisible to viewers who aren’t looking from the right angle, which underscores Maura’s final realization that the key to her freedom was in front of her the whole time. A similar thing occurs when we stop being aware of what we’re seeing and our focus minds on other things. During these periods, we are pre-occupied with other thoughts, but somehow we keep tabs on the world around us and our vision bypasses our optic nerves, feeding information directly into our brain. One particularly common instance is when we drive long distances and can’t seem to remember parts of the journey, but clearly we didn’t crash the car. This phenomenon is known as blindsight – the world is all around us and though a part of us knows it’s there, we’re somewhere else, lost in ourselves until something happens to bring us to our senses.

The ingredients for the cocktail come from May Keane’s request for jasmine tea with a side of lime or cucumber. Blueberries and cucumbers have an unexpected affinity for each other. I can't believe I’d never thought to put them together before. And for the record, I like gin in this cocktail.

your choice of white spirit (vodka, gin, rum, tequila, mezcal, shochu), crushed blueberry, cucumber, lime juice, jasmine tea cordial

Jasmine Tea Cordial
1. Heat 250g water in a pot and bring to a low simmer, but do not boil. Remove from heat and immediately add five bags of jasmine (or jasmine green) tea. 
2. Steep for five minutes, then promptly remove the bags, squeezing the excess tea before discarding them. Stir in 225g white sugar and drop in a small piece of peeled fresh ginger.
3. Rest overnight. Remove ginger in the morning.

1. Place six blueberries and one slice of cucumber in a cocktail shaker. Crush with a muddler. 
2. Add one part jasmine tea cordial, one part lime juice, and two parts of the white spirit of your choice. 
3. Add ice, securely cap the shaker, and shake hard to chill. 
4. Strain the drink into a chilled coupe or martini glass, using a mesh sieve to filter the bits of cucumber & blueberry. 
5. Garnish with skewered blueberries. 
6. Feeling really adventurous? Add a dash of Fernet Branca on top of the drink, for a touch of mentholated bitterness.

Gates Otsuji is the founder of Controlled Substances, a bar and beverage consultancy based in Brooklyn, with more than two decades of experience creating cocktail programs for brands like The Standard, Starr Restaurants, and The Edition. As a third-generation Detroiter, Gates is thrilled to partner with WSU Press for this series.

If you thought the suburbs were boring, think again. Kelly Fordon’s I Have the Answer artfully mixes the fabulist with the workaday and illuminates relationships and characters with crisp, elegant prose and dark wit. The stories in Fordon’s latest collection are disquieting, humorous, and thought-provoking. They might catch you off guard, but are always infused with deep humanity and tenderness.