Sweetbitters and Cocaine

I decided to start off the year with Sweetbitter. I remember reading rave reviews for it a couple years ago, and then I’m pretty sure it got turned into a series on Starz or Showtime. So the reviews must’ve been true.

For anyone who has worked in a restaurant, this book is pretty relatable. And, at times, feels like a personal attack to those of us who spent our early 20s in the industry. You get caught up in the idea of drinks at work after your shift, then on to the bars that were still open where the staff were unlucky enough to serve you.

One of the more interesting observations of this book is that you really don’t get to know any of the characters in the book. You only scrape the surface. Even our main character. Her real name, Tess, doesn’t really even come up until the end. We know her more so by the nickname the other people have given her. Her whole identity really revolves about where she stands within the restaurant. We don’t know where she’s from, why she doesn’t really like her family, what she wants to do with her life. I’m not sure that she even does.

For most of the book I want to scream at Tess. She’s self-involved and doesn’t seem to know or care what’s going on with the world, NYC, or with the people she works with everyday. People she uses more than cares about.

Tess obviously idolizes Simone. I understand when you’re fresh out of college and see someone you look up to, but sometimes the more you get to know the person you look up to, the more you realize how little they have it together. Simone seems to be the person we learn about the most throughout the novel. Even more than Jake. Who is part of Simone’s past, present, and future.

When the book comes to a close, you wonder if Tess will every do something with her life. I have a feeling that she will make a lot more mistakes. I’m not sure that she will ever find a purpose. Maybe it is to become the next Simone. Maybe she will travel. But without the close proximity of Simone to push her, I don’t expect her to do anything. Her lack of depth may be the reason the TV version didn’t make it past season 2.

I decided to pair this book with a drink I’m calling a Cocaine Spritzer.

What You’ll Need:
– Dry white wine
– Lemon sparkling water (or whatever La Croix variant you have)
– Ice

Fill a wine glass with crushed ice. Fill half way with wine, and then top off with the sparkling water. Drink until you’re drunk.

And no, I’m not advocating to take cocaine with the drink. Unless that’s your thing.


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