On Memorial Day weekend, while most of Memphis languished without power, I fell under the spell of HBO's Game of Thrones. Since then, I've blazed through the first three seasons, downing gin and tonics, margaritas, white wine, and an occasional beer while taking in royal beheadings, adolescent dragon hijinks, and the infamous Red Wedding. I'm determined to be ready next weekend when season seven begins. And I'm determined not just to be ready but to be on point with my beverages when those devilish Lannisters, the zombie-like White Walkers, and the fearless Daenerys Targaryen continue their small-screen saga.
If only Memphis had its own version of the Game of Thrones-themed bar that just sprang up in a hipster neighborhood in Washington, D.C. According to accounts from thirsty East Coast GoT fans, the pop-up bar includes an Iron Throne, fire-breathing dragons, and a replica of the Red Keep.
- Game of Thrones
The cocktails menu is equally devoted to all-things Westeros. Drinks include the gin-based What is Dead May Never Die, a vodka cocktail that's fiendishly called The Lannisters Send Their Regards (if the Red Wedding doesn't ring a bell, watch "The Rains of Castamere," episode nine in season three, for the reference), and the rum-based Dothraquiri, which is named, of course, for the nomadic horse lords led by Targaryen.
Alas, we do not have such a bar in Memphis — but fortunately, there are enough online recipes for GoT-inspired cocktails to float Tyrion Lannister from King's Landing all the way to the Shivering Sea.
The perfect antidote to Memphis in July, the White Walker, which I found on the food blog A Heaping Spoonful, would make a great way to kick off season seven next Sunday night. It'll require a trip to the liquor store, but the layered milkshake-like concoction of white chocolate liqueur, cream soda, and curaçao looks utterly delicious.
Also found on A Heaping Spoonful: the bracing Kingslayer, which combines one ounce each of bourbon and Goldschlager with one-and-a-half ounces of Grand Marnier and lemon juice in an ice-filled old fashioned glass. Another take on the Kingslayer, found at Paste Magazine's website, combines Jameson, cranberry juice, and sour mix.
Vanity Fair offers a recipe for Mother of Dragons, a blend of tequila, sherry, agave syrup, and fresh berries, topped with 10 drops of the mysterious-sounding Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub cocktail bitters, available on Amazon.com. The Cocktail Hunter website uses tequila as a base for a ginger liqueur-flavored drink, King of the North, which is elegantly strained into a martini glass. And Apartment Therapy's foodie blog the Kitchn gets into the game with a variety of drinks named for each "house," or clan, represented in the series.
Not that any real 15th-century people — the late medieval period is most comparable to the fictional GoT universe — drank such elaborate cocktails. Those fortunate enough to live in the Mediterranean region drank traditional wine; to the north, ciders, mulberry gin and berry-based wines were readily available. Mead, the preferred beverage of today's Society for Creative Anachronism sword wielders, was considered more of a special treat than a daily drink.
According to most accounts, even serfs bypassed water and milk for fresh ale, brewed either at home or in a monastery. Maybe Tyrion was onto something — records show that in 15th-century England, the per capita annual consumption of beer was between 73 and 79 gallons. Sailors were allotted an astonishing gallon a day.
Should you want to drink like a ruling-class GoT character, rather than make a toast to one of them, historians recommend you cozy up to a bottle of Slivovitz. The fermented plum brandy, which is bottled in the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe, dates to circa 14th-century Bulgaria. Best served warm, it's reminiscent of a particularly potent mulled wine. I wouldn't drink it by choice, though, unless I was in desperate need of a hot toddy.