Boos and Booze: Heart-Shaped Box and a rich bourbon cocktail

Halloween Cocktail Pairings. Photo Credit: Carla Davis
Halloween Cocktail Pairings. Photo Credit: Carla Davis /

Today’s Booze and Booze selection is Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, paired with a deep, dark bourbon cocktail.

Readers not familiar with Heart-Shaped Box are still most likely familiar with its author, Joe Hill. Joe Hill wrote fan favorites NOS4A2 and Locke & Key, both of which were adapted as series. He also wrote the novel Horns, which was adapted for film, and co-wrote the novella In the Tall Grass, which became a Netflix film. His co-writer for In the Tall Grass was his father, Stephen King. Yes, THAT Stephen King.

But, before anyone was aware of who his father was, Joe Hill wrote his first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, which just happens to be a favorite of mine. It’s a source of eternal sorrow for me that it has never been adapted for film, a fact I discussed with Hill in my interview for 1428 Elm.

The initial advance edition of Heart-Shaped Box sold out its entire 500 copies within days of the announcement, and the second printing sold out within a matter of hours. Joe Hill received a 2007 Bram Stoker award for Best First Novel, so I am not alone in my love with this creepy, wonderful book.

Heart-Shaped Box is the story of aging former rock star Judas Coyne, who has a very morbid collection of cursed, haunted, or just plain strange items. After receiving an email about a supposedly haunted man’s suit, he, of course, buys the suit, and it comes delivered in a heart-shaped box.

Heart-Shaped Box
Joe Hill (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix) /

Judas, Georgia, Angus and Bon go on the run in an attempt to get away from the ghost, and they now have some idea of who he is, and why he may have a personal vendetta against Judas. In true Joe Hill fashion, Judas and Georgia are both incredibly flawed characters, which only makes them more real. You shake your head at some of the decisions they have made throughout their lives, but darn it, you LOVE them, and want them to get out of this mess more or less intact.

Without a doubt, Heart-Shaped Box is a dark story, and Orlando bartender Armando Morales has come up with a dark cocktail to pair with it. He says his inspiration was imagining the color and smell of the heart-shaped box itself, and matching it.

The Heart-Shaped Box Cocktail:

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • Orange wedge
  • A dash or two Chocolate Bitters (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar

In a cocktail shaker, muddle brown sugar, bitters and orange wedge. Add ice and bourbon to shaker and stir (DO NOT SHAKE) to combine the flavors and chill the bourbon.  Strain cocktail into a rocks glass with ice. Optionally, this cocktail can be topped with soda water.

Next. 31 DOH: Stay Tuned for WNUF Halloween Special. dark

Do you enjoy Joe Hill’s novels, and have you read Heart-Shaped Box? Tell us what you think in the comments section.