Published on October 8th, 2015 | by Katy Evans


Stillsuit Cocktails: the annual Tacoma toast to Frank Herbert

This article was originally published in September 2013, new information has been added.

The Legacy of Frank Herbert

In 1984, Frank Herbert’s fifth book in the Dune series, Heretics of Dune, was published. In the foreword, he shared the experience of writing Dune thus far:

When I was writing Dune there was no room in my mind for concerns about the book’s success or failure. I was concerned only with the writing. Six years of research had preceded the day I sat down to put the story together, and the interweaving of the many plot layers I had planned required a degree of concentration I had never before experienced.

It was to be a story exploring the myth of the Messiah.

It was to produce another view of a human-occupied planet as an energy machine.

It was to penetrate the interlocked workings of politics and economics.

It was to be an examination of absolute prediction and its pitfalls.

It was to have an awareness drug in it and tell what could happen through dependence on such a substance.

Potable water was to be an analog for oil and for water itself, a substance whose supply diminishes each day. It was to be an ecological novel, then, with many overtones, as well as a story about people and their human concerns with human values, and I had to monitor each of these levels at every stage in the book.

There wasn’t room in my head to think about much else.

Frank Herbert was a serious author, a scrupulous visionary who fought through cynicism to manifest a mythic, sprawling future that exposed humanity at its most profound and most horrid.

The tale of Dune is not on trend (it’s not a slog through the post apocalypse); it is timeless and at its heart it does not despair. Instead Dune honors the power, love, and vision humans can achieve, and explores all that our capacity enables us to create and destroy.

Dune, the first in the series, was published in 1965 and has since become a science fiction classic.

This success is one that we Tacomans can take just a little more to heart than the average fan since we can count Frank Herbert as one of us.

Dune is “a philosophy book.”  “It is pretentious garbage.”  “It is an adventure story.”  “It is a religious parable.”  “It is a prophesy of where our world is headed.” “It is the Supreme Masterpiece of Science Fiction.” “It is pulp masquerading as intellectualism.” “It is weird.” “It is boring.” “It is a ripoff.” “It is the first true science fiction book.” “It is the only true Bible.”

These are just a few of the impressively diverse reactions to Dune (as compiled by the World’s Strongest Librarian). Through all the praise and criticism that have been heaped on the Dune series for nearly 50 years, it’s an undeniably important literary touchstone and its influence endures, even here in our little Herbert-bearing hamlet.

Tacoma and Frank Herbert

As Erik Hanberg eloquently outlined, the pollution of the Puget Sound in Tacoma was a primary inspiration for Herbert in his envisioning of the far future.

The grimy, hopeless desolation of Tacoma’s mid century waterfront has faded but Herbert’s warnings are even more relevant now as they were decades ago. The aesthetics have shifted but the ecological damage is far from undone.

Much is happening now to care for our local environment; so what about caring for the literary legacy it inspired?

No, I’m not talking about naming landmarks, I’m talking about partying.

Stillsuit Cocktails: the annual Tacoma toast to Frank Herbert

Frank Herbert was born in Tacoma on October 8th, 1920. It seems fitting that we should raise a glass to Frank on that day, and there’s no better place to do it than Hilltop Kitchen, where bar owner Chris Langston Keil happens to be a bit of a Dune nerd.

Perhaps you may have noticed more than a few fantastically named cocktails showing up from time to time – Harkonnen, Golden Path, Bene Gesserit, Honored Matre – these and others are all original cocktails crafted by Chris and inspired by Dune.

Join Post Defiance, Hilltop Kitchen, author Erik Hanberg, and King’s Books as we raise a lovingly concocted cocktail to Frank Herbert.

Stillsuit cocktails banner

The evening will feature all of Chris’s Dune cocktails – detailed originally in the R.R. Anderson Tacomic Dune cocktail menu, books available for purchase to enhance your science fiction collection, a quiz, and prizes to be won!

To get you salivating ahead of time, check out the original six cocktails and their Dune inspirations. Three more cocktails have since been added since our first event so make sure you keep an eye out for The Little Maker, If Fishes Were Wishes, and the Duncan Idaho Ghola – all new cocktails for 2015:

BenegesseritRRandersonBene Gesserit

mezcal, benedictine, allspice

served up.

A secretive matriarchal religious order, the Bene Gesserit comprise one of the most powerful political and magical forces in the world of Dune. Their sisterhood is united by rigorous mental and physical conditioning, a practice defined by their famous Litany against Fear:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing….only I will remain.”

DuncanIdahoRRandersonDuncan Idaho

rum, overproof rum, drambuie, mole bitters, lime oil.

served on the rocks.

Duncan Idaho is arguably the most popular and likeable character in the world of Dune.

The loyal and stubborn swordmaster who trained the story’s young protagonist Paul Atreides, Idaho goes on to achieve a kind of tortured immortality through the series, which also inspired another Dune drink, the Duncan Idaho Ghola. This cocktail should be available at Stillsuit Cocktails 2015.

“You should never be in the company of anyone with whom you would not want to die.” – Duncan Idaho quoting a Fremen saying, God Emperor of Dune.

Harkonnen RR AndersonHarkonnen

mezcal, rum, smoked demerara salt.

served over hand cut ice.

The members of House Harkonnen are the most obvious villains in Dune. Cruel, brutish, and devious, the Harkonnen family, headed by the disgusting Baron Vladimir Harkonnen are ruthless in their attempts to exterminate House Atreides. “One must always keep the tools of statecraft sharp and ready. Power and fear – sharp and ready,” said Baron Harkonnen in Dune.

Golden Path RR AndersonGolden Path

cinnamon infused tequila, becherovka, mulled apple cider.

served hot.

The Golden Path comes into play in the second book in the series, Children of Dune, and remains the philosophical and literal driving force through the sixth book.

The Path describes the necessary spiritual quest and physical transformation that Paul Atriedes son Leto must undergo in order to save humanity and become an awesome chimera: half man, half terrifying sand worm, and God-Emperor of Dune.

“When I set out to lead humankind along my Golden Path I promised them a lesson their bones would remember. I know a profound pattern which humans deny with their words even while their actions affirm it. They say they seek security and quiet, the condition they call peace. Even as they speak. they create the seeds of turmoil and violence.” – from the Stolen Journals of God-Emperor Leto Atreides II, God Emperor of Dune

Honored Matre RR AndesonHonored Matre

mezcal, tomato water, habanero/lime cordial, smoked lime salt.

served up.

Enemies of the Bene Gesserit, the Honored Matres are another matriarchal group, first introduced in the fifth book of the series, Heretics of Dune. Upon their emergence the merciless Honored Matres were considered much more aggressive and dangerous than the Bene Gesserit, using extreme violence and sexual prowess to control and enslave.

“Power attracts the corruptible. Absolute power attracts the absolutely corruptible. This is the danger of an entrenched bureaucracy to it’s subject population. Entrenched bureaucracy seldom can be touched short of violence.” – a teaching of the Honored Matres.

Orange Catholic RR AndersonOrange Catholic

rum, amaro, barolo chinato, rogue bitters.

served up.

The Orange Catholic, also known as the “Accumulated Book,” represents one of Frank Herbert’s signature amalgamated religions.

His handy glossary of terms in Dune says it best: The Orange Catholic is “the religious text produced by the Commission of Ecumenical Translators. It contains elements of most ancient religions, including the Maometh Saari, Mahayana Christianity, Zensunni Catholicism and Buddhislamic traditions. Its supreme commandment is considered to be: ‘Thou shalt not disfigure the soul.’” From the Orange Catholic, a passage describing human life as a journey along a narrow bridge: “Paradise on my right. Hell on my left, and the Angel of Death behind.”

And where’s the Spice, you might ask? Although none of Chris’s drinks yet contain the mythical spice melange, I think we could all agree that his creations do nearly approximate Dr. Yueh’s description of the substance that dominates Dune:

The Spice is “ like life – it presents a different face each time you take it. Some hold that the spice produces a learned-flavour reaction. The body, learning a thing is good for it, interprets the flavour as pleasurable – slightly euphoric. And, like life, never to be truly synthesized.”

Please join us for Frank Herbert’s birthday and a celebration of his legacy here in Tacoma. We hope it will be just the right mix of science fiction/Tacoma history/fancy cocktail nerdery. Happy Birthday, Frank!

clockwise from front left: Duncan Idaho, Orange Catholic, Bene Gesserit, Honored Matre, and Harkonnen cocktails

clockwise from front left: Duncan Idaho, Orange Catholic, Bene Gesserit, Honored Matre, and Harkonnen cocktails

A Toast to Frank Herbert

October 8, 7 – 10 pm

Hilltop Kitchen, 913 Martin Luther King Way,Tacoma, WA 98405


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About the Author

Founder and Co-Managing Editor at Post Defiance, Katy writes and fundraises for Tacoma. Follow her @katynicoud.

3 Responses to Stillsuit Cocktails: the annual Tacoma toast to Frank Herbert

  1. j says:

    i still deny dune’s importance.

  2. Pingback: Cocktails Through a Stillsuit: A Toast to Frank Herbert ~ This is Chris dot com ~ The Website of Christopher Grant Harris

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