Literary Libations: Get Lit with DPL and Denver Distillery!

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This month, we’re back with a very special installment of Literary Libations from the Colorado State Library in collaboration with Denver Public Library’s Get Lit Pop-Up Book Club, the Colorado Chapter of Sister’s in Crime, and Denver Distillery. The book: Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man. The Genre: Mystery. The vibe: LIT. If you’ve ever wanted to join a book club, but were put off by thought of a room full of literature majors sipping port and discussing Pride and Prejudice for THE MILLIONTH TIME, then fear not, your book club is here. Denver Public Library’s Get Lit! Pop-up Book Club pairs fun and approachable books with local Denver watering holes so you can discuss your favorite stories while downing your favorite beverage(s). This month’s meeting will take place at Denver Distillery (244 South Broadway) and the atmosphere could not be better. This meticulously constructed South Broadway hideaway has the low lighting and prohibition feel of a New York speakeasy that would impress even Hammett himself. Pair that with a special appearance and book signing by 3 writers from Colorado’s chapter of Sisters in Crime and you are in for one very special evening. And fortunately for you, I’ve already done my homework and paired some of The Thin Man’s most colorful characters with some of Denver Distillery’s most creative cocktails, so you can enrich your reading and drinking experience! The event takes place on April 25th from 6:30-8:00 pm, so mark your calendars, grab your books, and bottoms up, Colorado!

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Character: Nick Charles
Cocktail Pairing: King Volcano

I like my cocktails like I like my crime noir protagonists: dark, smooth, classic… and dripping with booze. As a seasoned reader (and drinker), I thought I had this cocktail as well as Nick Charles pegged right from the start. Ah yes, the token whiskey-heavy beverage in the lowball glass with a single cube. We meet again. I thought I could write this one from the back cover alone. Not only was I surprised and a little embarrassed to learn that I wasn’t even drinking whiskey at all, but rum. I was more than a little confused. You all know rum, right? The silly stuff you order at Sandals Jamaica on your girls’ trip weekend that comes in a pineapple and has a tiny umbrella and a whole palm tree sticking out of it? Your mom’s friend, Cheryl, has a t-shirt that says she’s in a very serious relationship with it? Let me assure you, this is not that. Like our incomparable Mr. Charles, this cocktail manages to be both richly complex (spoked paprika AND damiana bitters?!) and refreshingly subtle, and comes wrapped in a package that is, as I said before, classic. Nick Charles didn’t come here to solve crime, break hearts, and save the day, but until the bottles are empty, he’s reluctantly along for the ride. This reticence to grab the spotlight, refusal to fawn over a pretty face and a nice set of gams, and most importantly, his impeccable taste in partner (the gushing over Nora is imminent), make him the kind of character you don’t just enjoy reading; he’s the kind you’d like to take out for a drink sometime.

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Character: Nora Charles
Cocktail: Gin the Twilight

Description reads: “Our gin. Our tonic.” As with our leading lady, I was almost put off by the audacity of this cocktail’s simplicity. How dare you not try harder? *clutches pearls for effect* I’m an intellectual with a highly refined palate for complex characters and even more complex cocktails! Next thing I know, I’m ordering my third and inviting all the bartenders to my [parents’] time share in metropolitan Orlando. It’s simple, it’s understated, and dear god is it delicious. In the same way, our incomparable Mrs. Charles is elegant, charming, and accommodating almost to the point of being obnoxious. Then in an instant, she effortlessly dismisses our brooding hero noir with a biting wit and graceful nonchalance that makes Clark Gable look like Pauly Shore. She’s not threatened by youth, not afraid of confrontation, and somehow manages to be as soft as a rose petal. She is who she is and I, like Nick, was all in from the start.

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Character: Dorothy Wynant
Cocktail: Nightingale

Caution: This drink is both delicious and sneaky af. It’s house-made coffee liquer, right? Can’t be more than 15-20%. People drink stuff like this for breakfast don’t they? Nope. Not stuff like this. And if they do, point me in their direction because we need to be friends. This coffee liquer is made in partnership with Kaladi Coffee and it is… a knockout. If Dorothy Wynant is this cocktail’s equivalent, then your typical coffee liquer is like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. Kaladi Coffee takes their craft as seriously as Denver Distillery, so this isn’t just a brown, sweet liquid that tastes more like tootsie rolls than coffee. Kaladi uses a process that extracts a highly potent coffee concentrate from their beans. This means more coffee taste with less sugar, and a stronger caffeine-packed brew to stand up to the rum base that’s used to create the liquer. The result is a cocktail that is worthy of our doe-eyed, speakeasy darling: striking, just a little sweet, and an absolute handful at 40%. One for an after-dinner pick-me-up is enchanting, but get sucked in by its charm and you’ll wind up sleeping on your own couch with a detective at the door for breakfast.

Interested, but don’t have time buy enough copies for your entire book club? The Colorado State Library’s Book Club Resource has a book club set with 9 copies of this very title available now! Stop in at your local library branch and ask them how you can check out this and other book club sets through the Colorado State Library today! Are you a library wanting to start a book club? Find out more about the Colorado State Library’s Book Club Resource at or browse all of our great titles at

Madison Basch