I’m sitting here with a rum and orange.
Don’t worry–I’m not drunk. Even though I don’t drink often (or I don’t think I do), I’ve settled into the habits of nursing drinks or spacing them out so long that I never get well and truly smashed anymore. Even if I’ve been drinking all day long.
Oh, right . . . Full disclosure, I’ve definitely been drinking rum and oranges all day.
A totally not-that-serious blizzard hit New York and everything shut down, including work, so I figured I’d grab some rum to make the extra day off a little bit more sound.
The result of casually mixing bevs all day: I thought it’d be fun to make a fantasy alcohol together.
Now, this will be a challenge, because, unlike last time’s Let’s Make, I’m pretty clueless. Last time, I made an animal, and I love animals; I’m a huge nerd for weird animal facts and regularly procrastinate by googling “new cutest animal [insert year]” (red pandas are still the reigning champs). I’ve even worked at the Bronx Zoo, taking the opportunity to learn a lot about the animals on exhibit.
In contrast, I know nothing about alcohol. I like beer. I like to mix incredibly simple drinks for myself once in a blue moon. I don’t have the palette required to enjoy wine . . . That’s pretty much it.
But, hey, there will be drinks in Rainwater Archaic, and this site is supposed to be about challenging myself, so let’s figure this out together.
Step 1 – Choose a Type: Beer, Wine, or Spirit
It feels like starting with a big picture question always works best whenever I make something for a story, so we’re starting with as broad a choice as I could imagine.
And, immediately, I’m going with “spirit.” I’ve already made a spirit and a wine for other fantasy projects, but making spirits always feels fun. I don’t know why. Maybe because ales and wines seem more commonplace for fantasy? Whatever–spirits it is.
Step 2 – Add the Fantasy
I know this is immediately out of order compared to last time, but I’m having a hard time with what would’ve been the second step: Choose a Base Material. For whatever reason, it’s a little tough deciding on a random material to distill for this drink, so I’m going to take another route–hope that I find some fuel for this creative fire. Something to bring it together.
A bit of brainstorming later, the answer is . . . goblins.
No, I’m not fermenting goblins to make this drink.
This spirit is made by goblins, or some other semi-intelligent race of monsters. It’s a weird idea. Which makes it perfect.
Side note: I refuse to use typical goblins in a fantasy story, but this isn’t Let’s Make: A Fantasy Monster, so we’ll have to call them goblins for now.
Step 3 – Choose a Base Material
Mushrooms seems like the perfect answer . . . but mushrooms don’t contain sugar, and thus can’t be fermented into alcohol.
The runner up: tree sap.
The sap from a stunted tree that grows in swamps.
Ugh . . . why is everything in my mind gross? Yeah, sure, these little monsters make disgusting alcohol from swamp trees.
Step 4 – Choose a Name
“Nosh” came to mind immediately. It sounded wrong though, and, sure enough, it’s a term for “food,” a little too far afield to work for my drink.
I tried googling “mash” as well, remembering that as a brewing term, but it’s a specific brewing technique, which would make it a lazy name.
Considering all the elements that went into it, I lighted on “bog sugar,” which I liked a lot. However, that was probably because it reminded me of “moon sugar,” a drug made by the Khajiit of the Elder Scrolls series.
So, instead, I went with a simple, playful alternative: “bog syrup.”
I may change it (depending on what the monster people who made it turn out to be like), but I’m happy with it at the moment. I’ll be using it for Rainwater, after all, and the inherent sarcasm of “bog syrup” is perfect for that story.
Step 5 – Assign a Social Niche
This is the part where I’m supposed to say when and where people drink bog syrup, as if it’s a normal drink.
But it isn’t. Bog syrup is most commonly used as fuel for fires, deemed unfit to drink by the average person. Perhaps because there are so many stories about how it drives people crazy or kills them.
Of course, there are still people who drink it–vagrants who find crude, abandoned stills out in the swamps. Cultures that celebrate those rare finds. The former often sample too much, destroying their minds. The latter, determined in the way of humans to have what they want, practice careful sips of the syrup, often arguing that it isn’t hurting them while it slowly obliterates their brain cells.
Well, that was fun. I apologize that my mind is so fucked up, but that was easily the most unique form of alcohol I’ve ever created, so I’m excited–even though it’s absolutely disgusting.
If you’re a regular, thanks for stopping by again. Fair warning: I’m probably going to follow this one up on Thursday, with a Let’s Make for the goblin creatures that make bog syrup.
If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.
Either way, thank you just for dropping by, and, as always, write well.