Saturday, May 16, 2020



Music has a way of reaching deep into our hearts and souls. The mournful notes of the sax in Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street and Chris Botti’s trumpet in most of his songs touch me, a delicious haunting that I can’t quite explain, so I knew my short story Siren Song, in the anthology All That Weird Jazz, would incorporate haunting music.

In Siren Song, Hawk Hathaway spends his evenings at the Gimlet Lounge, hoping to lose himself in the high, keening notes of a jazz trumpet that reach in and touch his soul. Having made one bad decision that ruined lives, he’s a man in desperate need of redemption.

Like Hawk, the Gimlet Lounge in Kansas City, Missouri has fallen from its former glory. The current dive bar and former speakeasy, which gave lip-service to the 18th Amendment thanks to notorious Boss Tom Pendergast, has seen far, far, better days. Hawk might not find redemption in the Gimlet Lounge, but he will find a great drink, thanks to barkeep Greta’s great mixologist skills.

To celebrate the publication of Siren Song in All That Weird Jazz, I’d like to share one of my favorite drinks with you, and what better drink than a gimlet?

Like Hawk Hathaway and the Gimlet Lounge, the gimlet has a history. Most sources agree the gimlet originated in the mid-nineteenth century as a way to get British sailors to drink lime juice, and thus get their vitamin C and prevent scurvy. There is a question about whether it was named after British Naval surgeon Thomas Desmond Gimlette, or after the piercing tool the gimlet, for the way the cocktail “pierces” the drinker. I’m thinking it was probably a little of both, a coincidence the sailors found humor in.

However the name originated, there is little disagreement on the ingredients: gin, lime juice, and a simple syrup if the lime juice hasn’t been sweetened. For those of you that are Raymond Chandler fans, you may recall in The Long Goodbye that Terry Lennox told Philip Marlow the perfect gimlet was half gin, half Rose’s Lime Cordial. Philip Marlowe didn’t care. As he said, he wasn’t fussy about drinks.

For myself, I enjoy crafting my own cocktails, and prefer the brightness of fresh citrus to bottled juices, but I’m no cocktail snob. Use what appeals most to you. I always like to have a coordinating “mocktail” for every cocktail, because whether you can’t, shouldn’t, or just don’t want to drink alcohol, there is still pleasure to be gained in quietly sipping a delicious drink.

If I could give you only one hint about how to make a great cocktail, it is to always buy your liquid ingredients in glass bottles. Glass doesn’t impart an additional flavor to the drink, unlike plastic.

This recipe produces a tangy gimlet. For those that prefer a sweeter drink, increase the simple syrup to taste.


2 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup

Combine in a shaker and shake vigorously, then pour into a stemmed glass.

For a non-alcoholic mocktail, replace the gin with tonic water:


2 oz. tonic water
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup

My tonic water preference is Fever Tree, which offers several different varieties, letting you tweak the flavor according to whim. Whichever tonic you choose, remember to get one that comes in a glass bottle for best flavor. You’ll have no regrets. Unlike Hawk Hathaway.

Enjoy your drink as you listen to your music of choice. Preferably siren songs that will draw you into another place and time, away from your everyday cares.

Until next time,

In addition to Siren Song in All That Weird Jazz, M. A. Monnin is the author of “Bad Ju-Ju” in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible, and also writes about gardening and Victorian periodicals. An Air Force veteran and avocational archaeologist, she enjoys traveling and archaeology in addition to making cocktails. She and her husband live in Kansas City, Missouri with their two Siberian huskies. She can be reached on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Featuring eight additional mysterious tales, All That Weird Jazz is available on Amazon.



When I turned 21, my dad met me at a lounge to buy me my first legal drink.

It seemed to call for something more than a beer or a glass of wine, but I knew nothing about cocktails.

He suggested a vodka gimlet, thinking that, since I had (and still have) something of a sweet tooth, I'd like the taste.

Then he gave me the most important words of wisdom about drinking alcohol I eve got.

"It doesn't make any sense at all to drink something you don't like the taste of, just 'cause it has alcohol in it."

Anonymous said...

"Most sources agree the gimlet originated in the mid-nineteenth century as a way to get British sailors to drink lime juice, and thus get their vitamin C and prevent scurvy."

However, the lime juice was mixed with rum by the Royal Navy, to make grog. The only naval connexion with gin I know of is Churchill's gibe that "... the officers imagine they're gentlemen because they drink pink gin."

M. A. Monnin said...

Jim, wise words from your father. I couldn't agree more.

I'm not surprised at all that lime juice was mixed with rum for the sailors. I didn't run across that bit of trivia in my research, which was admittedly limited. Now I wonder what colored the gin pink.


Anonymous said...

"Now I wonder what colored the gin pink."

Angostura bitters.