Friday, June 21, 2019

Chai Another Day and The Pink Lady

Leslie Budewitz, our guest today on Drinks with Reads, blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two cozy mystery series. CHAI ANOTHER DAY, her fourth Spice Shop Mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, was published on June 11. DEATH AL DENTE, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. “All God’s Sparrows,” her first historical fiction, won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story; she also won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives and cooks in NW Montana. You can find her on Facebook.

“Welcome to the new Seattle, where climate is the only thing changing faster than the city’s skyline.”
So says Pepper Reece, owner of Seattle Spice in the famed Pike Place Market, and the main character in my Spice Shop mysteries. In Chai Another Day, the 4th in the series (Seventh St. Books, June 11, 2019), Pepper and her pals attend a memorial service for Joelle Chapman, a friend who was stabbed to death in the vintage and antique shop where she worked. Afterwards, the three women go out for a drink. Though Pepper favors wine at home, she enjoys the occasional nip of something stronger when she’s out and about. And the reaction of Joelle’s friends and family, all dressed in bright florals and shades of pink, acting like they’re celebrating a gallery opening rather than mourning the loss of a woman they loved, definitely calls for something stronger. 
The Pink Lady, a classic cocktail of the pre-war club era, is just right. The egg white smooths out the sharpness of the gin, and combines with the grenadine to make a lovely drink in shades of pink, topped with a light layer of froth. Joelle would have loved it. 

“I don’t care what the gallery owner says, that was not Joelle’s favorite champagne,” Kristen said. “Her taste was waaay more expensive.” 
“Where to?” I said. “For a real drink.”
We were standing on the sidewalk outside the gallery. Seattle summer evenings were never this hot. What was going on?
The theme of my life these days. 
Kristen steered us to a newish spot in the next block where she and Eric had gone for Date Night. The three of us snuggled into a booth for two and grabbed menus. 
“Hmm. I had my taste buds set on a Cosmo, but a Pink Lady sounds good. In Joelle’s honor,” I said. 
Seetha read the ingredients. “Gin, grenadine, and egg white? That’s raw egg. You could get salmonella.”
“The alcohol will kill the germs,” I said. Her mouth fell open. “I’m joking. I’m sure they use pasteurized eggs. The risk is minimal.”
We ordered drinks and Kristen chose appetizers to share. I sat back, my eyes stinging with the emotion of the day. 
“Remember when you were a kid,” I said, trusting that my friends had felt much the way I had, “and you thought when you were twenty-five, you’d have life all figured out and you’d just live it and there wouldn’t be any problems. Gad, I wish that were true.”
“It’s not?” Kristen said. I stuck out my tongue.
“I thought it was just me,” Seetha said. “That things were coming together late because my upbringing was a mix of so many cultures.”
“Then you hit forty,” I said, “and realize everybody’s always trying to figure it out. Even those people in their flowery outfits, pretending to enjoy cheap champagne.” 
“They were there for the art,” Kristen said, and we all giggled. “I swear, sometimes the pretension makes me want to gag. I miss funky Seattle. I miss when Northwest fashion meant the latest in plaid flannel and the hot new Gore-Tex rain jackets.” 
“As if,” I said. “You haven’t worn plaid flannel since we went camping at La Push in, what, 1997? It rained all weekend. A forest of Gore-Tex wouldn’t have kept us dry.”
She had a point, though. Natives and long-time residents do sometimes feel like the city’s gotten too big for its britches, believing the hype and overindulging in pseudo-sophistication. 
But I didn’t want to go all cranky over that right now. I had enough other reasons to feel cranky.
Our server set our drinks on the table. Mine was frothy and pretty, the pale pink deepening to dark rose near the bottom of the martini glass. I touched my tongue to the icy surface. “Delish.” 

Pink Lady 
For each drink:
1/2 ounce grenadine
1 egg white
1-1/2 ounces gin

Add all ingredients to a shaker with cracked ice. Shake well—when your hands are chilled, so is the drink—then strain into a martini or cocktail glass. 
(Excerpt and recipe from CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Seventh St. Books, June 2019)


Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.
As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 
Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.