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Tim Federle's 'Tequila Mockingbird' cookbook mixes literature, cocktails


It was a delicate dance. But having grown up as a Broadway dancer in musicals such as Gypsy and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Tim Federle was up to the task. On the one hand, the folks that crowded Inkwood Books on Jan. 22 were 11-year-old kids with an earnest appreciation for Federle's middle school novels Better Nate Than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! And on the other they were literature-loving drink aficionados charmed by Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist, his new recipe guide voted the No. 1 cookbook of the year on Goodreads.

Fortified by pitchers of "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaritas," the booze hounds waited out the tweens as Federle signed their books and kibitzed quickly on this school night. While the two middle school books are autobiographical, born of his own experience as a conflicted teen who, "wanted to be a star but didn't want anybody looking at me," the cocktail book's inspiration came from elsewhere.

"My mother had a book club that would dissolve into opening wine. This was a tribute to my mom, born as a joke," he said to the crowd. "The idea was cocktail recipes that would evoke the feel of a novel. The titles were the easy part."

A Rum of One's Own, Bridget Jones's Daiquiri, the Last of the Mojitos — Federle swiftly came up with 65 hilarious tweaks on classic books, hiring cocktail consultant Victoria D'Amato-Moran to flesh out the recipes. Quick-witted commentary, drinking game ideas, book club drinks and an array of bar bite recipes complete the package that has made Tequila Mockingbird a no-brainer gift idea for the literary drinker. (His next book may be even savvier: Hickory, Daiquiri, Dock, a nursery rhyme book of cocktails for new parents — surely more fun at a baby shower than a Diaper Genie.)

Federle's three books were all published in the past year. For most new authors, a swirl of interviews and book tour gigs would be heady but disorienting. For him, it has felt like coming home.

"The thing I miss about performing is being with people."

Indeed, after the last book was signed, Federle adjourned with the Inkwood crowd to Tampa's Anise Global Gastrobar where guest bartender Kamran Mir recreated some of the book's cocktails. A longtime bartender at Czar in Ybor City, Mir worked at Inkwood while in college and met new owner Stefani Beddingfield at the bookstore.

Leafing through the book, Mir picked the drinks that sounded most intriguing to him: the Romeo and Julep, the Lime of the Ancient Mariner and yes, the Tequila Mockingbird.

Federle, for his part, stuck with water, mindful of an early flight to Pittsburgh for his next appearance. Aside from engaging with his fans, what has been the best part for this 33-year-old author?

"It forced me to read a lot of books I skipped as a kid."

Laura Reiley can be reached at or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.


Are You There, God? It's Me, Margarita

Move over, wizards. Make room, vampires. For many of us, Judy Blume's ("It's Me") Margaret was the original young adult superstar, even if her epic battles were of the religion-and-puberty kind. (Actually, especially because of that.) Margaret showed us how to face all of life's quandaries, from God to boys to bra size. Bet when Maggie got to college, she faced an even headier question: How do you make a margarita without a blender? (Hint: on the rocks, kid.)

Coarse salt, for cocktail rim

1 ½ ounces tequila

1 ounce lime juice

½ ounce triple sec

1 lime wedge, for garnish (optional)

Rim a chilled Solo cup in coarse salt and set aside. Dump all your feelings — er, ingredients — into a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain over fresh ice into the salted Solo cup. Or, if you're feeling classy, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wedge. This is in Judy Blume's honor, after all.

Makes 1 drink.

Source: Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle


Paradise Sauced

An apple a day may keep the dentist away, but the Devil's no doctor. "Paradise Lost," Milton's 17th century blank verse poem (don't hold your breath for Dr. Seuss rhymes), was one of the first examples of Christian literature to paint Adam, Eve and even your old friend Satan in gray strokes — it's less good vs. evil than complicated vs. conflicted. Toast Milton's God-like effort with a recipe that features a sinful apple at its core.

Sugar, for cocktail rim

1 ½ ounces vodka

1 ounce sour apple schnapps

½ ounce lime juice

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

Rim a chilled cocktail glass in sugar and set aside. Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into the glass. You don't need a man to enjoy life's splendors, but prepare to pucker up after a sip of this sour sauce.

Makes 1 drink.

Source: Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle

Tim Federle's 'Tequila Mockingbird' cookbook mixes literature, cocktails 01/27/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 2:59pm]
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