Halloween Exclusive: THE INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE Booktail!
A special Samhain treat for my sweet subscribers! Cheers, witches and vamps!
Happy freakin’ Halloween, witches!!! Blessed Samhain, let’s call the spirits and go wild!
By spirits, of course, I mean liquor. Bwah hah hah! Just a little witchy bartender joke, I hope you’ll indulge me on my birthday. Ok, it’s not actually my birthday, but it should be. Because it’s Halloween, the best holiday of the year! Candy, costumes, and cocktails, no gifts or awkward family visits required!
To celebrate, I have a special treat for you, my lovelies! Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is kind of having a moment, if you hadn’t noticed. AMC released a new series inspired by the novel and it is beautifully shot, tonally spot on, evocative, and gay AF! So, so gay! I am here for it!
I first read INTERVIEW many moons ago, when I was in middle school. (Ideal tween reading, right?) I admit I was a little nervous to revisit it. What if it came off as super dated and hokey? Rice was a huge influence on me as a writer, even if I didn’t figure it out (hello, horror) for a long time. She infused her work with unapologetic homoeroticism. Visions and ephemera are real yet not real—GOLD PERSIMMON fans, is this where I get it?! What if reading it now as a 40 year-old out queer woman, who’s read a lot of weird stuff, left me unsatisfied?
I’m pleased to report this much belated re-read of THE INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE did not disappoint. In fact, I was rather impressed with the depth and nuance… Actually, you know what? The booktail says it better than I can reiterate now. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer.
Behold! THE INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE booktail!
The story begins in a room: a journalist referred to only as “the boy” sits with his tape recorder, forgetting the cigarettes burning to ash in his fingers as he listens, spellbound by a new subject’s story. This interviewee is an elegant man, a former plantation owner (and owner of human beings) from New Orleans named Louis de Pointe du Lac. He’s alive but long dead—a vampire—made what he is by a charming and impetuous emotional abuser called Lestat, who taunts Louis’ moral struggles and distaste for his desires. Lestat’s peak manipulation and most elegant guilt trap is the creation of their vampire daughter, Claudia, whose mind ages even as her little body does not.
Louis’ story is ultimately a struggle to understand his nature, and by extension to quantify the nature of good and evil: “ [..] ‘I knew it when I first took a human life to feed my craving. It was my death. And yet I would not accept it, could not accept it, because like all creatures I don’t wish to die! And so I sought for other vampires, for God, for the devil, for a hundred things under a hundred names. And it was all the same, all evil. And all wrong. Because no one could in any guise convince me of what I myself knew to be true, that I was damned in my own mind and soul.’ ”
This literary horror classic was published in 1976, a remarkable fact considering its overt homoerotic themes and portrayal of what is ostensibly a queer family of two fathers and one child. Revisit the novel now and you’ll find it has lost none of its potency, or poetic contemplation of death and the nuance of morality: “ ‘Evil is always possible,’ ” Louis says, “ ‘And goodness is eternally difficult.’ ”
This booktail is made with champagne, the most elegant of wines which Lestat, in all his snobbery, enjoys as a prop in his performance of humanness, as upon the pair’s escape from Babette’s. Campari adds a brilliant red tone, like Armand’s auburn curls, vibrant as life itself. Made with botanicals, it’s a bittersweet European liqueur that complements the other florals in the drink: orange blossom water represents the relationship between Louis and his beloved sister. Though their connection is limited by the sibling’s mortality, for a few years they enjoy walks in the moonlight together, savoring the scent of the orange blossoms as they go. Lavender is for little Claudia, who is covered in it as she persuades Louis to go along with her plan to rid them of Lestat: “[...] She slipped off the high, rounded damask cushion and came towards me, covered with the scent of flowers, the petals in her hand. ‘Is this the aroma of mortal child?’ she whispered. ‘Louis. Lover’ [...] ”
All these flavors combine in a glass rinsed with absinthe, which you cannot detect until you’ve taken that fateful first sip. When Claudia executes her doomed plan to dispatch Lestat, she employs two little cherubs, some laudanum, and absinthe, with deadly results.
The cumulative effect of these ingredients is a potion that is bitter yet sweet, floral yet refreshing. It defies expectation and reason.
This bright red booktail is presented in a coupe glass atop a mirrored base that transforms the reflection of the novel behind it into liquid gold. The tableau is framed by dark red and burnt orange velvet, like the curtains of a stage, while a sparkling black backdrop mimics the unknowable void of the behind-the-scenes. Beside the book appear fragrant strands of dried lavender. Likewise, the floor is spotted with small white chrysanthemums, death flowers for Claudia with their “sweet, funereal smell.” Louis also studies a “rich white chrysanthemum” in a church, moments before a regrettable encounter with a priest. A grinning white chocolate skull, the specter of death, peers out from the folds of the left curtain.
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE
0.5 oz lavender syrup (see recipe)
1 oz Campari
1 tsp absinthe
3 generous dashes orange blossom water
First, prepare the lavender syrup. Meanwhile, set a coupe glass in the freezer or at the back of the fridge to chill. Once the syrup is cool and the glass is frosted, rinse with absinthe, coating the glass thoroughly and discarding the excess. Set aside. Add the Campari, lavender syrup, and orange blossom water to a shaker, along with a large cube or chunk of ice. Agitate vigorously until the ice breaks up, then strain into the chilled glass. Top generously with champagne.
1 c water
1 c sugar
¼ c dried organic lavender
Stir all ingredients together in a small pot, then bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Once cool, strain into a glass bottle or jar. Keep refrigerated.
Cheers, witches! And happy Halloween!