Friday, December 4, 2015

Nob Brown's Wry Tart Martini & Go Down Hard

Craig Faustus Buck joins us today for Drinks with Reads to match his book, Go Down Hard, with the perfect drink...

When I heard about Friday Drinks with Reads I couldn't resist signing up. I love to use drinks as character descriptors in my writing. For example, take the opening lines of my novel Go Down Hard:

I look through the spyhole. Gloria has a bottle of gin in her hand and a pair of cuffs hanging from her belt loop. A deadly combination. I open the door. "Evening, Lieutenant. You got a warrant?" "Here's your warrant." She grabs the back of my head and sticks her tongue down my throat. I'd like it better if she didn't taste like Cheetos. I think you get the idea that Gloria is no Mary Poppins. A little later in the scene, they crack open the open the bottle. She moves in and kisses me again. This time she tastes like gin. A big improvement. 
Our narrator/protagonist is Nob Brown, a divorced, disillusioned thirty-something ex-cop turned bottom-feeding tabloid writer. Gloria is Nob's best friend and occasional lover, an LAPD detective lieutenant who could use an Excel spreadsheet to chart her sex life. When Nob's spirits sag, Gloria slips him the confidential homicide file for the unsolved twenty-year-old murder of legendary rock-and-roll goddess Lana Strain. Nob idolized and lusted after Lana when he was in high school. He proceeds to search for her killer, hoping to propel himself out of the tabloids and into a lucrative book deal. But he pokes into the wrong holes and unearths rotting secrets that give rise to fresh corpses. As the cold case comes to a boil, Nob finds himself battling for his own survival.

Go Down Hard is a tough book to pigeonhole in a genre. Here's T. Jefferson Parker's stab at it: "Go Down Hard is a spirited mix of noir homage and hard-boiled spoof, and Craig Faustus Buck gets the proportions just right.  Sexy, tough and comic -- and often all three at once.  Noir fans with senses of humor will dig it." I call it a neo-noir romp through the worlds of aging rock-and-rollers, live Internet sex shows, abusive psychiatrists, Slavic mobsters, child molesters, emotional betrayal, deceit, arson, murder and estate planning.

With so much going on, it was tough to hone in on one drink for this book. Nob doesn't have a regular favorite. He likes to let his mood dictate his drink of the moment.

So I decided to mixologize my own concoction with a touch of noir, a touch of spice and a touch of humor. I call it the Wry Tart Martini.

SEX NOTE: Historically, the word tart, outside of any culinary context, has been used as a derogatory term for women whose sexual attitudes conflict with social expectations (as Gloria's do). In today's world, where geneticists have identified six sexes based on biological karyotypes, and Facebook offers a choice of fifty-one genders for your profile, any double-entendres you may read into the name of this drink are strictly gender-neutral.


About a dozen dried tart cherries (I get mine at Trader Joe's but they're widely available or you can get them online)

3 Tbs, or more as needed to cover cherries, of cheap rye whiskey  (it doesn't have to be cheap, but this is noir, after all)

3 oz. gin (anything but Tanqueray. You want to taste the juniper)

Optional exotic garnish such as star fruit, dragon fruit or horned melon (pictured)

Throw the tart cherries in a narrow glass or small bowl and cover with rye. Allow to soak between two hours and two days. Meanwhile put a bottle of gin in the freezer to chill.
Drain the cherries (you can drink the rye, too. It'll taste surprisingly like sherry). Transfer macerated cherries into a martini glass. Shake gin with ice to further chill and pour over cherries.

If you like your Wry Tart dirty, muddle the cherries with the back of a spoon.

Garnish as you wish and let it go down easy!

Author/screenwriter Craig Faustus Buck's debut noir mystery novel, GO DOWN HARD, was published by Brash Books in 2015 and was First Runner Up for the Claymore Award. His short stories have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Anthony and the Macavity. He wrote an Oscar-nominated short film and co-authored two #1 NYT nonfiction bestsellers.  Clearly, in the awards department, he is always the bridesmaid, never the bride. But he is President of Mystery Writers of America SoCal and a Director at Large of Sisters in Crime LA. You can find out more at

Craig Faustus Buck

Author Go Down Hard

Anthony and Macavity Award short story nominee "Honeymoon Sweet"


  1. I love the opening lines! Gloria sounds like a great character that I definitely want to know more about.

  2. Love the beginning of the book. Sounds like I need to add it to my TBR pile.

  3. Gloria's the first-person narrator of the sequel, which I'm working on now. I can't wait to concoct her drink.

  4. Oh man, this sounds delicious. We should have them at the MWA party. And it's great book, Kim.

  5. Beer and wine only at Golden Road, Ellen, but you and anyone else who comments here has a standing invitation at my house for a Wry Tart Martini. I just need 24 hrs. notice to properly macerate the tart cherries :)

  6. You had me at gin, this drink sounds tasty. And considering all that is going on in that book, it's a good choice. I am so intrigued right now.