When I think about spring, I think about new beginnings. With rain comes an explosion of greenery and flowers, and suddenly the sky feels bluer and the air smells sweeter. Anything can happen—especially good things. So to conclude our cycle of season reads with drinks to match (check out summer, fall, and winter too), here are five books and five drinks that capture the fresh feeling that accompanies the arrival of spring.
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain has grown up in decidedly unromantic poverty in a decrepit, old castle, all because her father, who was once hailed as an up-and-coming literary genius, has failed to write a single word since his debut novel. Cassandra is on her way to becoming a writer herself, and she chronicles her first encounters with love in her diary. Her first adult beverage is a cherry brandy, and she thinks it is delightful. Try cutting the sweetness of the liquor with some citrus in a cherry old-fashioned instead.
This American classic opens with our main character, Francie Nolan, reading library books out of doors. It’s a scene that just screams “springtime” to me. The Nolans are hardly wealthy, and the one luxury Francie routinely enjoys is coffee with milk. She and her brother are allowed three cups a day. If you want to add a little extra “something” to your coffee, give your milk a little foam with an inexpensive frother. For a stronger brew, try this method using Europe’s favorite at-home coffee maker, a Moka pot.
The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) + Lavender Latte
Mary Lenox led a life of indulgence until her parents died in a cholera epidemic. She is sent to live in the English countryside, where she discovers the buried key to a private, walled garden. There she and her cousin Colin find hope and healing through a common love for the place. A story filled with so many blooms deserves an equally floral drink. If your local coffee shop does not offer lavender-flavored lattes, you can purchase or make some lavender simple syrup to whip up your own.
Rose in Bloom (Louisa May Alcott) + Rose Lemonade
This story ends in spring, but only after a long and somewhat sad winter (keep your tissues on hand). In this sequel to Alcott’s Eight Cousins, Rose Campbell is finally of age, and as a young heiress, about to come into quite a lot of money. As she “comes out” into society, Rose must learn to navigate romance and heartbreak. In tribute to our titular heroine, I recommend a floral and fruity rose lemonade—you can find this brand at Target or make some yourself with some rose simple syrup. (Since simple syrup is basically just sugar, I recommend mixing it with a low-sugar lemonade, to keep the drink from being too-sticky sweet).
Princess Academy (Shannon Hale) + Herbal Water
This was my all-time favorite book as a kid, and it still holds a special place in my heart. Miri’s life is upended when it is announced that the next princess will be selected from her mining village in the mountains. She and her friends are sent to attend training to prepare the future wife of the young prince, but it’s no fairy tale. The head mistress is harsh, not all of the girls are friendly, and Miri is conflicted about competing for a stranger’s heart. One of the most imaginative details in the book is a stone called linder, which runs through the stone that Miri’s village quarries. They breathe it in the air and drink it in the water, and now it’s in their bones, and that connection lets them communicate with one another, even from miles away. While you can’t actually drink the waters of Mount Eskel, I think they would have an earthy, herby taste, like this recipe for lemon, herb, and cucumber-infused water.