Friday, February 27, 2015

Drinks with Reads: PAST CRIMES & Glen Erik Hamilton's Irish Coffee

Photo Credit:  Emily Whitaker,

Seattleite and author, Glen Erik Hamilton, is making a special version of Irish Coffee for Drinks with Reads today to celebrate the launch of his first novel, Past Crimes...

When the weather is cold and rainy, you need a little something to warm the bones.  At least until the action heats up…

In Past Crimes, Army Ranger Van Shaw receives a call from his criminal grandfather Dono to come home to Seattle. But when he arrives at Dono’s house in the early hours of the morning, Van discovers the old burglar bleeding out on the floor from a gunshot to the head. With a lifetime of tough history between him and the old man, the battle-tested Ranger knows the cops will like him for the crime.  Armed with his military and criminal skills, he follows a dangerous trail of clues that leads him deeper into Dono’s life—and closer to uncovering what drove his grandfather to reach out after years of silence.

My hometown has its beautiful sunny days, more of them than you’d suspect, but a lot of the year it earns its reputation for precipitation.  The local joke is that the coffee keeps you warm, and helps to stave off suicidal impulses during the fourth straight month of rain.  Starbucks started in Seattle.  So did Tully’s, and Seattle’s Best, and roughly forty kazillion independent coffee houses and corner barista stands.  It’s not happenstance that Frasier Crane’s hangout changed from Cheers in Boston to CafĂ© Nervosa in Seattle.

But of course, at Drinks with Reads we talk about cocktails.  In Past Crimes, there are plenty of bars – Van’s criminal grandfather Dono is a silent partner in owning one – but they are not cocktail bars.  They are the kind of bars where the patrons would look suspiciously at blended whiskeys.  A drink that required an actual blender might incite violence.

Irish Coffee is the perfect Seattle drink.  Prepared properly, it’s not just tossing a shot of grog into java that’s been sitting on the diner’s warmer all morning.  It’s layered, surprisingly sweet, and guaranteed to warm your cockles.  And ordering it won’t start any brawls.  

Here’s my recipe, adapted from  I’ve recommended some specific brands, if you want to be authentic to Van’s Northwest and Irish roots:

Irish Coffee
  • 1 cup fresh-brewed coffee – try local Seattle roasts from Fremont Coffee Company or Victrola on Pike Street
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 oz. Irish whiskey – Bushmill’s Black Bush is a great choice, and has the added status of being from County Antrim, where Van’s grandfather Dono hails from
  • Heavy cream

Tools: coffee brewer, whisk or electric mixer
Glass: toddy
Garnish: roasted coffee bean or coffee flakes

Pour fresh hot coffee into a preheated glass. Stir in the sugar and dissolve. Pour in the whiskey and stir. Lightly whip the cream so it’s still pourable, and top the coffee by pouring the cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats. Do not stir after adding the cream, as the true flavor emerges by drinking the coffee and whiskey through the cream. Garnish.  Drink and laugh at the tourists carrying umbrellas.
BIO:  Glen Erik Hamilton is a Seattle native, who lived aboard a sailboat as a boy, and grew up finding trouble around the marinas and commercial docks and islands of the Pacific Northwest. He now lives in California with his family.  Past Crimes is his first novel.

You can find Glen at, on Twitter @GlenErikH, and on Facebook.


  1. This sounds like a great book and drink. I can't wait to read this one!

  2. Love this combo. Can't wait to dig in. Thank you for a great post Glen!