Covers & Cocktails: The Jane Steele

Happy March! It’s supposed to be spring in Boston, but winter is still holding on as long as possible. I’m sick of being a human sausage casing and just want to wear dresses without tights!

But another month means another cocktail, and I’ve been talking about this book all over the place. I know I’ve mentioned it on a recent podcast with the rest of ladies and in this month’s Hide Your Wallet post.

I’m talking about Jane Steele by Lynsday Faye. Normally, the way this works is I’ll approach a publisher with the idea to do a cocktail and, if the gods are smiling upon me, someone will approach me. When I pitched the idea to Faye’s publishers, they were totally on board, but – plot twist – Faye’s husband is a bartender in New York who makes custom cocktails for all her books.

How. Cool. Is. That.

So this is not a recipe I came up with, but it’s really good. Like amazingly good.

Big thanks to Faye’s husband, Gabriel Lehner, for the recipe. Lehner is a New York City craft cocktail bartender who works at Macao Trading Company, among other local establishments, and is active in the United States Bartending Guild. He enjoys creating his own specialty syrups, bitters, and vermouth when writing recipes. (As you do.)

If you like this recipe and are in the NY area, go hit up the Macao Trading Company.

Jane Steele
A | BN | K | AB
When I first read the recipe, I was a little on the fence about it because it calls for cognac. And I am not a cognac drinker at all. But with all the other things that get added in like chai honey syrup and lemon juice, it’s so smooth.

It’s strange how this cocktail reflects my feelings on Jane Steele in general. For some reason, the book was intimidating. The writing is wonderful but daunting, and when I first started the book, I was afraid I was going to miss something. But once you start going, you can’t stop.

The use of chai tea is a nod to the Sikh staff and elements of Sikh history in the book, and provides the right amount of spice to offset the sweetness of the honey. The dried fig as a garnish is optional, but I loved letting it soak at the bottom of the glass because you all know my opinions on boozy fruit.

Seriously, it’s one of the best drinks I’ve had and been able to make myself. And if you’ve had a lunch consisting of sharp cheddar cheese and craisins, you’ll be feeling it in no time.

Ingredients for The Jane Steele

Shopping list:
Lemons or lemon juice
Soda Water
Chai tea
Dried figs (optional)

1 1/2 oz. cognac
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. chai honey syrup (see recipe below!)
2 oz. soda water
1/2 a dried fig (optional)

Recipe for chai honey syrup:

  1. Boil 1 cup of water and steep 3 chai tea bags for ten minutes.
  2. After removing the tea bags, stir in one cup of honey.
  3. Refrigerate any remaining syrup.

Recipe for The Jane Steele:

  1. Shake the first three ingredients with ice.
  2. Strain the chilled mixture into a glass over fresh ice.
  3. Top with soda, and garnish with the dried fig.

Modifications and notes:

  • I definitely recommend following the directions, especially the ice part. It’s wonderful when chilled with all that ice.
  • Since I know nothing about tea, I followed Lehner’s directions regarding steeping time, but feel free to play around with it if you want a stronger or weaker chai flavor in the syrup.
  • Stir the crap out of that syrup to make sure all the honey is dissolved, because it’s a lot of honey.
  • For this recipe, I used club soda. I also have no clue what the difference is between tonic water, club soda, and soda water. Please, someone educate me – and tell me which you like best.

A copy of Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye with The Jane Steele drink


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    LILinda says:

    Tonic water has quinine as an ingredient. I know the difference between club soda and soda water (seltzer) is sodium,club soda has it,seltzer doen’t. Hope this helps.

  2. 2
    Neasa says:

    Tonic is completely different – has a strong taste with a sharp-sweet flavour. It was originally intended to prevent malaria, the quinine taste and side effects were pretty awful hence why it was frequently adulterated with gin. Leo in Not Quite a Husband refers to this – the medicine being worse than the disease.

    WRT cognac, it’s one of my favourite drinks. You need to buy decent stuff – Henessy is widely available but not that great. Courvoisier VSOP is my favourite, the VSOP is made from champagne rather than wine (because I’m fancy). Remy Martin is also champagne based but usually more expensive – not worth it in my view. Try a classic champagne cocktail – the cognac gives it a hell of a kick but it’s a smooth and sophisticated drink.

  3. 3
    Joanna says:

    @ Neasa. If you like cognac have you tried A.E. Dor? My husband loves a good cognac and has tried many and it’s the only one he buys now.

  4. 4
    Erin says:

    Tonic water also has sugar in it, so it’s closer to ginger ale than club soda on the carbonated mixers spectrum.

    And, of course, once you’ve asked a question, someone on the internet has already written the answer:

  5. 5
    shoregirl says:

    I personally like tonic, which I mix with fruit juice to get a slightly different spritzer (when I’m not drinking it with gin). I usually get diet tonic water, or sometimes I splurge and get some gourmet handcrafted tonic (in the aisle where they have 12 oz bottles of soda for $3.00 each).

  6. 6
    Tiffany says:

    I like a rum and tonic with lime when its hot outside.

  7. 7
    Squimbelina says:

    Tonic is bitter from the quinine (and, like others have mentioned) also has sugar in it. I love a vodka tonic, myself.

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