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Tuesday 30 January 2018


My blog guest today is the fabulous Isabella May, who is here to talk about her brand new novel, The Cocktail Bar - and a little of the history behind it.

Welcome, Isabella!

Thank you very much, Sue for inviting me to appear on your blog today. 

I had always assumed the provenance of the exotic drink would have more than a few claimants, but it wasn’t until I began to properly do my research that I realised just how many… and just how diverse the stories behind their justification were!

To highlight this, we join the main character of the story, River Jackson (an ex rock star turned mixologist), who has decided to hitchhike from Guadalajara to Tequila – as you do - running into a mystical sage named Mercedes en route:

“No need to carry on to Tequila. Your journey ends,” she smiled to reveal two rows of crooked teeth, “and begins right here. Come inside and let me explain.”

His head told him now was the time to do a runner, not that there was exactly anywhere to hide. His heart somehow warmed in an instant to this apparition of a female and her child.

“How do you speak such perfect English?” he said, stunned at his ability to enter into routine chitchat as he also bent to enter the tiny doorway, immediately hit by the pungent smell of ribs, chili and oregano, simmering on a tiny stove.

“Everything is connected,” said the woman.

“But, you live here in deepest Mexico. Or did you go to school, college?”

“I’m surrounded by infinite intelligence, why would I ever need to do that?”

She sat on a colourful stool, picked up a bowl and began to peel lima beans, a task she’d evidently made little progress with.

“Okaaay, this is starting to freak me out now.”

“You’re welcome to stay for supper before you head back to the city,” she ignored his confusion.

“I um… I really wanted to check out Tequila actually.”

She stopped her peeling for a few seconds, studied his face and then carried on with the job in hand.

“It’s just that, well,” he turned to look for a seat and she pointed at a similarly Aztec painted stool in the corner of the room, which he tentatively perched on, “I’ve uh… I’ve been collecting cocktail recipes from locals on my travels for a few years now, got a book full of them, and as soon as the plane touches down in London in a few days’ time – I’m uh… I’m here with my band and we played at the VFG arena last night - that’s it, man, I’m outta the music industry, time to move on to ventures new.”

He paused briefly to take in the knowing nods of the woman now standing before him. “I’ve put in a sealed bid for a rundown pub, in the town that I grew up in back home,” he continued, encouraged by her approval, “gonna refurbish it, make it pretty, turn it into a cocktail bar as it happens. Bring my inspiration back to Glastonbury, give her a new lease of life and the locals a hangout to put a smile on their faces.”

“All of this I know,” she said. “Although, I hope you have never been fooled into believing in the legend of Princess Xoctl of Mexico,” she giggled a little then paused, her finger and thumb pinching together in the air, as if plucking an invisible idea that had just flown past her. “It was the cola de gallo that really leant the cocktail its current name.”

River knew the former hearsay probably was just that: hearsay. The theories as to the provenance of a cocktail had piled up thick and fast over the years, only adding to the drink’s intrigue. But his ears pricked up now as the old woman bread crumbed yet another possible story of the cocktail’s origins.

“You probably know it already, of course, but it was the sailors arriving on the Yucatan peninsula, hundreds of years ago, here in my country… it was they who inadvertently gave your future bar its name,” she wagged her finger as if to autocorrect any other ideas that had formed in his mind over time. “One day,” she patted at her apron for effect, “a certain sailor asked for his usual drac in a bar, but the bartender couldn’t find his trusty wooden spoon to mix the liquor up with - and it had to be mixed slowly, precisely,” she took to wagging her finger again, “that was of utmost importance… so he improvised, used the root of the plant instead. And from that day forward, every sailor coming to shore would visit a bar and ask for a cola de gallo, which I’m sure I don’t need to tell you translates as ‘tail of the cock’, cocktail,” she finished with a wink. 

(Extract taken from The Cocktail Bar, Isabella May)

And if this has whet your appetite to find out more about the unconventional tipples that appear in River’s Somerset-based bar – and Mercedes’ very important contribution to it, here’s the blurb for the book:

Rock star, River Jackson, is back in his hometown of Glastonbury to open a cocktail bar… and the locals aren’t impressed.

Seductive Georgina is proving too hot to handle; band mate, Angelic Alice, is messing with his heart and his head; his mum is a hippie-dippy liability; his school friends have resorted to violence – oh, and his band manager, Lennie, AND the media are on his trail.

But River is armed with a magical Mexican elixir which will change the lives of the Three Chosen Ones. Once the Mexican wave of joy takes a hold of the town, he’s glad he didn’t lose his proverbial bottle.

Pity he hasn’t taken better care of the real one…  - universal Amazon buying link


Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls - - she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).

She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative 'drops'!

The Cocktail Bar is her second novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensation, Oh! What a Pavlova, published in 2017. Her third novel, Costa del Churros will be published in September 2018.

Twitter - @IsabellaMayBks
Instagram - @isabella_may_author

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