Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Thursday, May 10, 2018


Author’s Post ‘SCOUSE GOTHIC’ and its Cocktails.’


When I started writing the first SCOUSE GOTHIC book ‘The Pool of Life..and Death’ I was keen that it reflected a contemporary view of Liverpool, as well as an accurate one of its past. Although I was born and brought up in Liverpool, and had visited family and friends many times, I hadn’t actually lived in the city for many years. Then a chance combination of events allowed me to stay in the city centre for several months and to discover how much it had changed since my childhood.

The Liverpool I remembered was a city of black buildings and bombsites, warm beer and urban decay. The city I now found myself living in was modern and vibrant; the old buildings had been sandblasted and restored; glass skyscrapers had been built on the bombsites and the bars sold designer lager and cocktails.

While living there I decided that I needed to conduct in-depth research of the city’s bars, clubs and restaurants. (We writers must suffer for our art!) It was during one such expedition that I was introduced to Liverpool Gin. It seemed to embody everything that my contemporary vampires would enjoy: it was local and new, but its inspiration was rooted in the past; plus it was a premium organic gin and suitably expensive - It was also excellent. Idid some more research, and found that idea for the gin came from the owner of a pub in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, The Belvidere. At the time it was still a small batch of gin and you could buy bottles there. I visited the pub, which is small and friendly, and tucked away in a side street off Falkner Street. I knew instantly that this would enable me to link Melville’s past and present, I could imagine him drinking in the pub in the past and revisiting an old haunt on his return to Liverpool after almost a century.

Then I read a guide book that mentioned that St Peter’s Church in Seel Street had been converted into a restaurant/cocktail bar, the Alma De Cuba and a photo showed that the marble altar with the prominent Tu Es Petrus was still on view. The church was built in 1788, so once again it could have played a part in Melville’s life, both in the past and present. I’d had an idea for a scene were Melville meets another local vampire in a bar. It seemed natural to use a location that he may have known under a different guise in a previous life.

I visited the Alma de Cuba, it was perfect. The walls were painted blood red and huge chandeliers made from stag horns hung from the ceiling. A bar stretched the length of one wall and it was packed with a vibrant crowd (young blood for my vampire)The back wall was dominated by the marble altar and reinforced the sense of the past and present at one. Much of my vampires lived in the present but were a product of their pasts. What would a vampire drink if you offered to buy him or her a drink – assuming blood wasn’t available? I decided it would be a cocktail. But which? In the end I decided to create my own, which lead to the recipes in the back of the book.

Cocktail lovers will recognise them as variations of famous cocktail given a Scouse Gothic twist:

Sheryl’s beloved Liverbird is a Gin Martini with a green olive, or in her case maraschino cherries.

The eponymous Scouse Gothic is a gin Bloody Mary, or Red Snapper, with a few subtlevariations.

The other cocktails had their ingredients inspired by the characters or events in the book, and succeed to greater or lesser extent depending on your personal taste.

I hope if you enjoy the book, you’ll try a cocktail or too and get into the ‘spirit’ of Scouse Gothic.

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