speculative prose

A Selection of Drinks from the Courts of the Five Silver Moons and the Seven Red Stars, by Mari Ness

1. Red Elderflower: A tangy mix of elderflower wine, strands pulled from the colour crimson, amaretto liqueur, and a splash of jealousy, served over coconut ice, this summer treat is a staple of the Court of the Five Silver Moons, and the reputed favourite beverage of its current queen.

2. Blue Canary: A sweet blend of starlight, birdsong, Curaçao, white wine, and honey, typically served in goblets carved from particularly vivid shades of the colour blue, this evening drink was reportedly first created for a mortal visitor to the Court of the Seven Red Stars, although others claim it is a concoction of the Court of the Five Silver Moons. Believed by some to enhance musical ability.

3. Farla’s Courage: Rum, bourbon, more rum, a splash of amaretto, a lot more rum, a splash of orange liquor, significantly more rum, served in the nearest available container, for those concerned about where an evening at the Courts of the Five Silver Moons or the Seven Red Stars might lead them. Often quaffed by the unconcerned as well, to unpredictable results, or by those wishing to block the effects of the Blue Canary.

4. Pale Lady: First served at a ceremonial visit of the former Queen of the Silver Moons to the Court of the Seven Red Stars, this rich drink of heavy cream, white rose petals, vodka, crème de cacao, and a dollop of light caught in a silver mirror is still served in glasses carved from living diamonds at quiet gatherings of both courts, though never where the queens and their chief counsellors might see.

5. Iron Shoe: A rich mix of honey, dark rum, heavy cream, and coffee, topped with iron filings, this beverage is commonly served to visitors under suspicion, or when a queen or prince wishes to see a mortal vomit blood.

6. Autumn Gold: A light mix of aster nectar, slanted sunbeams, amaretto liqueur, the distilled essence of yellow, and gold tequila. Popular during late summer, or shortly before a trial at court.

7. Beer: Ordinary, mortal beer, usually obtained from a microbrewery, but occasionally from a standard grocery store. Considered tasteless or undrinkable by most members of the courts, but a reported favourite of the previous Queen of the Five Silver Moons.

8. Tangled Wing: A light blend of vodka, starlight, and butterfly wings, able to give exactly 1/7th of the mortals who drink it silvery, spidery wings, which will not allow them to fly, but which will cause immense pain when touched. Currently banned at the Court of the Five Silver Moons, but still served at the Court of the Seven Red Stars.

9. Moondance: A frothy mix of blue Curaçao, heavy cream, sambuca, laughter, moonlight, and honey. Often mistaken for a Blue Canary, but served in a silver cup, with limited to no effect on the drinker’s musical or singing ability. Said to occasionally have distressing effects upon mortals, especially when combined with other drinks.

10. Coke. Or, occasionally, Pepsi, or any version of either: Served straight to mortals attempting to recover from imbibing too much Blue Canary or Tangled Wing, or to members of the court planning on journeying to mortal lands after the festivities. Diet versions are rarely available; those concerned about sugar intake are advised to request a taste of pure disenchantment, known to regulate blood sugar, or stick to water.

11. Tinkered Bell: Formed of starlight, freshly squeezed orange juice, rum, the life force of seven fireflies, and a dash of uncertainty, this concoction, when clapped at, turns radiant for a moment—then vanishes. Visitors are advised not to drink it in any circumstances where applause might be expected. It remains, however, remarkably popular at both courts.

12. Lemon Bitters: This mix of passionate love, pineapple juice, bitterness, and a touch of lemon is a reputed favourite of the now-exiled Chamberlain of the Court of the Five Silver Moons. Still frequently served to those avoiding alcohol in the Court of the Seven Red Stars, but rarely found in the Court of the Five Silver Moons, where Coke may be the only other option.

13. Butterflies: A sweet mix created by the Queen of the Court of the Seven Red Stars for the previous Queen of the Court of the Five Silver Moons. When the Queen of the Court of the Five Silver Moons chose to drink beer immediately afterwards with her mortal companion, the Queen of the Court of the Seven Red Stars allowed three drops of her tears to fall upon her drink, destroying the recipe forever. However, since the court had anticipated a vast demand from other attendees, who frequently drank whatever the queen drank, several barrels were made, and the drink is still served at quieter, informal events. Claims that the drink causes actual butterflies to appear in the stomachs of mortals, causing extreme anxiety and even pain, have been dismissed by the Chamberlain of the Court of the Seven Red Stars.

14. The Sun Queen: A blazing mix of orange juice, bourbon, pure rage, simple syrup, and a twist of sunlight, caught on the open ocean, usually served in golden flutes at all grand balls. Mortals are warned that the drink has been known to increase passion and irrational thoughts, with at least one mortal blaming the drink for an accident involving herself, the queens of both courts, a vast quantity of beer, badly stained gowns, and one shattered heart.

15. The Painter: A rich blend of Frangelico, crème de cacao, seven drops of the blood of an artist, the first kiss of two lovers, and coffee, served hot and occasionally flaming in goblets holding a volcano’s warmth. Said by some to render the drinker irresistible to all when combined with the Blue Canary, but poisonous to all when combined with a Moondance. Frequently served during winter.

16. Pure Passion: Mortal heartbeats, brandy, crème de cacao, a shiver of lust, and rich cream, served warm in a pewter goblet. The last drink quaffed by the previous Queen of the Court of the Five Silver Moons, just moments before her sudden death, but still served at the Court of the Seven Red Stars, in memory, perhaps, of the queen and her companion.

17. Hot coffee or chocolate: The traditional beverage served to mortals as they depart, but also favourite beverages of both courts, used to soften the impacts of other drinks. Popular enough to be unavailable at certain moments, as at the last ball attended by the previous Queen of the Court of the Five Silver Moons.

18. Moonlit Sorrow: A blend of pure moonlight, vodka, the tears of a child, blue Curaçao, heartbreak, and pineapple juice, this recent creation of the Court of the Five Silver Moons is served at events where the hosts wish to forget mortality, and evil, and all things poisonous and sweet.


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Issue 21 (Spring 2020)

Story copyright © 2020 by Mari Ness

Artwork copyright © 2020 by P. Emerson Williams

Other fiction and poetry by Mari Ness has appeared in, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Uncanny, Fireside, Strange Horizons, and previously in Lackington’s. She lives in central Florida, where she has been known to indulge in the occasional severely overpriced touristy cocktail or two, the main inspiration for this particular tale.

P. Emerson Williams has an extensive background as a multimedia artist whose work synthesizes alchemical musical expressions with visual art, video, and performance. As a member of UK theatrical company FoolishPeople, his work included the creation of soundscapes and scores, set and graphic design, and live and voice acting. Williams brings his visual work to performing live with Jarboe around the world, expanding these performances with aspects of multimedia, including painted banners, video using footage shot around the world, and animation created from his own visual art.



This entry was posted on November 9, 2020 by in Stories.
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