Excerpt: Courtesan Cocktails and Other Libertine Libations

When Anaïs Nin began writing erotica, she was one of a very rare group of women who did so. Certainly there were lots of libidinous works written under a woman’s name, but most were male-bodied writers using pseudonyms as a protective shield for their impossible phallic dreams. Even many autobiographies of famously sexual women were penned by admiring men.

Nin, however, had gotten her “degree in erotic lore” when she and her first husband had rented an apartment in Paris from an American man, complete with his stash of French paperbacks. “One by one, I read these books, which were completely new to me. I had never read erotic literature in America…” she said in her diaries. “They overwhelmed me. I was innocent before I read them, but by the time I had read them all, there was nothing I did not know about sexual exploits…”

To make ends meet in the 1940’s, she and a group of friends that included Tropic of Cancer author Henry Miller took up writing pornographic stories for an anonymous collector who paid them a dollar a page. Nin, Miller and Miller’s wife June indulged in a romantic relationship for years that shaped Nin both artistically and sexually. By the 1970’s her erotic works were beginning to be published for the public with titles like Little Birds, The Delta of Venus and 2016’s Auletris.

Filled with impassioned turns of phrase and an erotic feminine vulnerability with no predecessor, her work inspired an entire genre of elevated sexual writing and the literary world is all the better for it.


With just three ingredients (not including the garnish), The Delta of Venus is a simply beautiful drink. Think of the gin and vodka as Henry and June, the two long sides of the triangle, and the Crème Yvette as Anaïs. Come to think of it, Crème Yvette sounds bit a like one of the exaggerated caricatures from an erotic story. “She tasted of the finest fruits and hints of violet. Her touch, light on my lips, was like honey scented with orange peel…”

1 1/2 oz Hendricks Gin
1 1/2 oz Grey Goose Vodka
1/2 oz Crème Yvette Liqueur
Amarena cherries

Glassware – chilled coupe, pint glass for build

Build Gin, Vodka and Crème Yvette in a pint glass with ice and stir for as long as it takes to read/recite the Nin quote below. Strain into a chilled coupe and rest a toothpick with three Amarena cherries on the glass’ rim. Share with a lover, or two.

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.”

Anaïs Nin