Pairings Project: THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY by Alix E. Harrow
TLDR; a perfect book for children who dreamed of magic doors, long after they were supposed to grow out of of such dreams.
THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY by Alix Harrow was actually the first book I read in 2020, and I didn’t feel like I could do it justice with a review or a pairing. I still made a cocktail and photographed it and dreamed about this incredible book. Now, eleven months later, I am finally ready to write a review. (This may be because I’m reading the equally brilliant second book by Alix E. Harrow, which I will now be too cowed to write a review about how much I love it, but there we are.)
This is not only one of the best books I’ve read this year, it is literally one of the best books I have ever read in my fiction-obsessed life. TEN THOUSAND DOORS plays with such a delight in language in stories for their own sakes, it cavorts through the narrative, twisting letters into characters, and characters into archetypes. It feels timeless and timely at the same time, and I can only dream of writing something like this one day.
THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY tells of January Scaller, a young girl who grew up in an extraordinary house with a benefactor who employs her father on mysterious tasks around the world. He brings back artifacts and treasures home to Cornelius Locke, who stores them in his mansion, before sending the man off again on some unnamed task.
January, the curious near-orphan that she is, discovers one day a book that tells of Doors (yes, with a capital D) that can open to worlds she’s only imagined. January starts to search for doors, and when she begins to find them, the freedom they offer is a fantasy richer than she ever dreamed.
This book is one of those fantasies that feels more real than truth. It gives way to something primal, a longing for magic, and a promise that it can still exist, long after we stopped looking for it. For a woman grown from a girl who dreamed harder than almost anyone I know, this book unlocked a bit of that longing I thought I had forgotten. It reads more like a fairytale than most books I’ve read, and it restored in me a bit of that longing for magic in my day-to-day.
If you are someone who used to check old wardrobes for passages to Narnia, if you kept your window open for Peter Pan to take you away to Never Neverland, if you checked doors that conceivably led nowhere but hoped that something was still on the other side, I cannot recommend this book enough. It is a delight and a portal into your imagination.
TLDR; THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY is a perfect book for children who dreamed of magic doors, long after they were supposed to grow out of of such dreams.
Cocktail Pairing: Springtime in January
This incredible book is magical, uplifting, and transports you to another plane of existence. I cannot sing its praises highly enough. It is one of those life-changing stories that helps you believe in magic again. It’s like reading The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle or the original Peter Pan by J.M Barrie. It doesn’t just describe magic; reading it is a magical experience. It brings magic into the smaller moments of your day, just by being a part of your world.
I’m gushing. I loved it.
Needless to say, finding a cocktail to pair with it was not an easy task. I wanted something effervescent, so prosecco and bubbles were a must. I wanted something sweet, but not too sweet. And I wanted it to be special.
A while back, a friend gave me homemade Limoncello, and I still had a strong supply of it. I wanted to find a way to incorporate it, and also wanted somethign fresh, and alive to add. Something that tasted like summer and freedom. I used to pick wild blackberries in my backyard growing up, and had plenty on hand, thanks to my daughters obsession with fresh fruit at every meal.
I combined them all together, tested the proportions over a mix or three, and here you go: Springtime in January. A custom cocktail for a one-of-a-kind book.
Springtime in January (blackberry Limoncello prosecco cocktail)
Handful of fresh or frozen blackberries
Muddle the blackberries in the bottom a shaker. Add ice and limoncello. Shake well. Using a strainer, pour into cocktail glass, and add the prosecco. (Careful! The blackberries caused my prosecco to bubble like crazy, so go slowly.) Garnish with fresh or frozen blackberries and mint if you have it.
Note: If you don’t have or don’t like blackberries, feel free to substitute strawberries (strawberry lemonade!) or raspberries, instead. I went with blackberries for the personal nostalgia I have. The importance for this cocktail is picking something that triggers a memory for you. Open your own door; it doesn’t have to be the same as mine.