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High Five! from Fialta

Top Five Summer Drink and Book Pairings

California-based indie-pop band Fialta draws inspiration from literature for the music on their latest album, Summer Winter (out July 23). Rather than confessional-style songwriting, Fialta's members work collectively as songwriters to produce songs with lyrics inspired by things they read. Their name is even derived from a short story by Vladimir Nabokov. In this week's High Five, the band lays out their top five drink and book pairings for summer. Read away, get some ideas for summer reads or drinks, and be sure to listen to Fialta's latest summery pop track.

1. The Great Gatsby with Villacana Re:Find Botanical Brandy (Gin) and Tonic 

“Do you always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it.” -Daisy Buchanan

The longest day of the year has passed, and the weather is heating up. Maybe you missed it, and maybe you didn’t, but there’s no better time than the middle of a hot, wilting summer to revisit the pages of Fitzgerald’s classic, particularly with the recent release of Baz Luhrmann’s film. If you’re like us, and most other publicly educated American grownups, the last time you took a tour through the vulgar, parvenue parties of West Egg was likely your junior year of high school, back when you couldn’t appreciate subtlety. Now that you are of age, and understand first hand the wild disillusionment that comes with adulthood, what better way to enjoy Nick Carroway’s incisive cultural observations than with the chilly, official drink of the prohibition in hand? We have no idea how to make gin in a bathtub, but our local Paso Robles winery, Villacana, figured out how to make it with leftover grapes. Their Re:Find Botanical Brandy is a nod to the creative liquor-making that went on in Fitzgerald’s day, and the result is truly impressive. Put it on ice with Fever-Tree Tonic Water, dive into Fitzgerald’s prose, and pretend for a minute that you’re really really rich.

2. Reasons to Live with JB Wagoner’s Margaritas

Although Amy Hempel isn’t a native of California, she sure as hell can write about it. She lived here for a time in San Francisco and LA, and like any sharp-eyed outsider, she has the ability to pick up on Golden State quirks that an insider would never see. Her first collection, Reasons to Live, is full of salty, ear-catching minimalist short fiction, much of which takes place at the beach or in a pool somewhere in California. In the name of Pacific Coast summers, we’d pair Hempel with a tall JB Wagoner’s margarita (on the rocks, of course). Like Hempel, tequila is not native to California, but this So-Cal producer is making waves and ruffling feathers by making and selling his 100% Blue Agave this side of the border. Personally, we don't mind. If a local top-shelf marg in mid-July isn't a reason to live, we're not sure what is. An added bonus: Hempel's stories are so short and addictive, you may finish three or four of them before you see the bottom of your glass.

3. Telegraph Avenue with Anchor Summer Beer

Michael Chabon is one of the most celebrated authors of our time, and his latest novel, Telegraph Avenue, explores the rich culture and tensions of the Berkeley-Oakland borderlands. Mike recently read this novel on a cruise through the Mexican Riviera and ended up sunburned because he lost all track of time (and sunscreen, apparently). Chabon constructs an emotionally rich story that explores themes of parenthood, the weight of history, and the solaces of art. A perfect companion to this summertime read is an ice cold glass (or two) of Anchor Steam’s Anchor Summer Beer. Anchor Steam is a microbrewery just across the Bay bridge from where this story takes place, and where Chabon calls home. This beer is crisp and cool as a San Francisco Summer. It’s soft and citrusy, but who needs hops when you have as many rich adjectives as Chabon provides?


4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Claiborne & Churchill Dry Gewurtztraminer

There may be no better novella for summer than Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. This tiny little book takes us on a boozy journey through the missteps of our favorite literary social climber, Holly Golightly, whose friends could drink enough wine to wash ten elephants. In this story, the unnamed narrator’s colorful observation and ab-wrenching humor give us a wonderful beach book or airplane read. We’ve paired it with a chilled down bottle of Claiborne & Churchill Dry Gewurztraminer. As in Capote’s story, this modern spin on the Mid-Century is spicy and dry, not as sweet as you’d expect. And just like the book (as opposed to the cloying Audrey Hepburn adaptation), it culminates in a finish that, while not at all unpleasant, is just a little bit bitter. 


5. East of Eden with Wrath Doctor's Vineyard Syrah

In summer, we just love to sit out on our patios looking at the same well-oaked, golden hills that Steinbeck wrote about in all his Central Coast stories. But if the Salinas Valley, the locale of his crowning masterpiece, is east of Eden, where the heck is Eden? According to Google Maps, it's smack dab in the middle of Wrath Vineyards. The grapes of Wrath (couldn’t resist, sorry!) are grown on the high, scenic bench of the Santa Lucia Highlands, overlooking all of Steinbeck country. While we don't know if John was a wine-lover, we have a hunch he would have enjoyed a long pour of Wrath's Syrah every now and then to supplement his regular bath in Corn Whiskey. Syrah is a rugged, earthy, manly sort of grape, not at all fussy, and it tastes great with cowboy cuts of meat. Yet it can full, expressive, and complex in style. The long, lyrical passages of East of Eden and a quality glass of red wine are certainly meant to be enjoyed slowly. But at the end of the day, we love them for a different reason, and it’s that they are both really, really good for your heart.

Stream Summer Winter one week before its release on AllMusic. Listen to latest single, "Cars," below.

Follow Fialta on Facebook and Twitter.

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Janelle is the owner of Green Light Go. When she's not spreading the word on her favorite bands she can usually be found riding her road bike through Michigan, designing super hip clothes or analyzing people much to their dismay.
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