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How to make an ACV and turmeric bourbon cocktail inspired by Joan Didion

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Photo: Stocksy/Cameron Whitman

Between being the subject of a new documentary and coming out with a new book, South and West, writer Joan Didion has had a pretty memorable year. And now? A cocktail in her honor. Illustrator and bartender Merrily Grashin developed “slouching toward Bethle-hammered,” a twist on a classic switchel drink, for her new book, Women’s Libation!: Cocktails to Celebrate a Woman’s Right to Booze.

women's libation cocktail book
Photo courtesy Plume publishing.

“Last year when reading through Slouching Toward Bethlehem, I was hit with a vivid image of Joan Didion drinking bourbon and eating sauerkraut from her essay On Keeping a Notebook,” says Grashin. “There’s something about this imagery that immediately made me think of [a switchel], an intense, earthy drink with restorative qualities—and, naturally, something that goes well with a lot of bourbon.”

Traditionally a switchel is made without booze and was simply an ACV-spiked drink that farmers used to rehydrate on hot days—similar to lemonade only way healthier. Grashin wanted to take those restorative qualities a bit further by adding turmeric—a trick her mother, a nurse, taught her years ago. “I remember getting really bad cramps in high school and learning that turmeric was a useful anti-flammatory and helped with cramping and overall blood flow,” says Grashin. “My mother would blend turmeric, honey, ginger, and hot water to make a warm, soothing drink which also helped aid digestion and relaxation.”

“I was hit with a vivid image of Joan Didion drinking bourbon and eating sauerkraut from her essay On Keeping a Notebook.”

Add to that a glug of bourbon and a good book (maybe the new Didion?) and you have a recipe for a perfect winter night.

Keep reading for the recipe and raise a glass to Joan Didion.

Get Started

 Slouching toward Bethle-hammered

Serves 1

3/4 oz (1 1/2 Tbsp) honey
1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) apple cider vinegar
1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) lemon juice
1 tsp fresh grated turmeric (or 1/3 tsp dried turmeric)
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
Pinch ground pepper
1 cup water
2 oz bourbon

1. Combine all ingredients in a glass and stir to combine.

2. Serve over ice.

If you’re curious about the health benefits of drinking vinegars, here’s everything you need to know. And this is what happens if you take a shot of ACV every single day.