Each week the iFanStaff passes along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail (or beer, or wine, or booze) and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.
Every week or so, I get together with a few of my friends for Cocktail Club. Sometimes we go out for cocktails, sometimes we try new and different types of liqueur, but mostly we get a little bit typsy and watch Game of Thrones. Recently, we went to a new bar/restaurant in our neighborhood called Calyer, which has a lot of fantastic cocktails on their menu. The next week we decided to reverse-engineer Calyer’s Black and White, a cocktail that called for “High West Silver Oat whiskey, root liqueur, vanilla, and egg white”.
[You're making a face, aren't you? You read "egg white" and made an icky face. It's cool. I did the same thing when I found out we were putting raw eggs in what otherwise sounded like a perfectly tasty beverage. But egg whites are pretty standard in classic, pre-Prohibition cocktails. When shaken with ice, the egg whites add a light, frothiness to a cocktail. More importantly they don't add anything in the way of flavor and the alcohol will kill or neutralize any salmonella bacteria. So there's nothing to worry about.]
While my friend was shaking up our own Black and Whites for the group, I spotted a bottle of SNAP on his bar cart. As you’d expect from the name, it has the flavor of a ginger snap. Mixing ginger, molasses, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, SNAP sounded much more pleasing to my palette than the root liqueur did. And lo, the Brown and White was born.
1.5 oz your preferred whiskey
1.5 oz SNAP
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar
1 egg white
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all the ingredients. Shake. A lot. Remember, you want to “whip” the egg white that’s in there. Side note: if you don’t have a cocktail shaker (or can’t find the one you know you have somewhere in this damn apartment) you can use an empty glass jar with a screw-on lid in a pinch.
When I took my first sip of the newly dubbed Brown and White (named for the color), I knew I had found something special. This quirky little cocktail has just the right balance of sweet and spice. On paper, the Brown and White looks like a lot could go wrong, but in the right hands it’s a unique and surprising cocktail. I knew almost instantly which comic I would be pairing it with.
Written by Paul Tobin
Illustrated by Colleen Coover
Published by Top Shelf Productions
Annah Billips is a 27-year-old who loves Rieslings and has a very complicated relationship with her Penfield Homunculus. Gingerbread Girl is Annah’s story as told by her girlfriend, a pigeon, a creepy magician, a doctor, a cashier, another pigeon, the boy she stood up, and an English bulldog. On paper this graphic novel looks like it could be a bit too quirky. But in the expert hands of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, Gingerbread Girl is surprisingly thought-provoking and utterly charming.
The narrative structure of the comic is such that we follow Annah on a date with sort-of girlfriend Chili, and as the camera moves along their path, the narrators change. We learn everything we know about Annah from the people in her life. Some of them have relationships with Annah, others are passers-by she’s made an impression on or a well-spoken English bulldog.
Annah’s problem is that she can’t find her twin sister, Ginger. That’s where things get a bit mind-bendy. The same year Annah’s parents split up, her neurosurgeon/mad scientist dad removed her Penfield Homunculus and with it, Annah’s sense of touch and feeling. He then took this gingerbread-looking piece of grey matter and created Ginger. Somewhere along the line, Ginger and Annah were separated, and now Annah is desperate to find that other part of herself.
It’s possible Annah is completely crazy-pants. It’s possible she’s 100% telling the truth. But Gingerbread Girl isn’t about Annah’s sanity. It’s an exploration of self and the sometimes heart-breaking search for something or someone to help make you feel whole again.
It’s pretty heavy stuff. To balance things out, Tobin and Coover created a cast of whimsical, witty, and charming storytellers to keep you engaged and invested in Annah and her neuroses. That, for me, is where the book shines. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, we see the impact Annah has had on people she’s come across and her community. Also, there’s a talking bulldog.
Gingerbread Girl, like it’s leading lady, is such an adorable and unique little comic that you can’t help falling in love with.
Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never, ever, ever drink and drive. Buy the comics that make you happy and share them with your friends.