'Cult hit' novel draws on Queenstown after dark

Former Queenstown barman Dan Miles, who has published an e-book, Filthy Still: A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails, giving readers an insight into life in Queenstown after dark. Photo by Diana Marino Photography.
Former Queenstown barman Dan Miles, who has published an e-book, Filthy Still: A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails, giving readers an insight into life in Queenstown after dark. Photo by Diana Marino Photography.
A former Queenstown barman is shedding light on what goes on after dark in the resort in a novel, released last month.

Dan Miles spent five years in the resort after coming for a two-week holiday and getting work in the hospitality industry.

During his time in Queenstown he worked in a variety of bars and, inspired by what he described as ''working in a sitcom, or a dark and twisted soap opera'', Mr Miles began ''making notes'' in 2007.

''If you work behind a bar long enough, you see some wonders - the very best and worst of people, often in the very same night.

''Bartenders in Queenstown are a particularly close-knit bunch ... I've now worked all over the world and I can honestly say that I have never seen such a concentration of outrageous behaviour as I did in my time in Queenstown, and that's just from the bosses.''

When tourists, alcohol, ''sexual intrigue and a dusting of scandal'' were added, the end result was his e-book, Filthy Still: A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails.

In 2008, Mr Miles and fellow mixologist Jason Clark, former owner of Debajo, were the first Queenstown bartenders selected to represent New Zealand in the Cocktail World Cup, which ultimately led Mr Miles around the world, before he returned to London.

He said that after the book was finished, it was rejected by every major publishing house because they felt there was no interest in ''bartender fiction'' or ''material that features excessive drinking and lewd behaviour''.

It was picked up in 2012 but the deal fell through when Mr Miles refused to change the setting from Queenstown to ''London or, bizarrely, Prague''.

However, ast month, Mr Miles learned the e-edition was to be published by Amazon.

Already, it had become a ''cult hit'' among bartenders and beyond, with London Lifestyle magazine calling it ''an absolute must for anyone who has ever worked in a bar, or indeed drank in one''.

The reaction to his ''completely and utterly fictional'' characters and the insanity and debauchery of their world had led him to begin work on a second part to the series, as well as to start discussions with a TV producer.

 


Excerpt

There have been moments when I've woken with a mouth like a leper's armpit that I have regretted coming to this town.

This town is filthy, or I am filthy in it; I have difficulty telling the difference any more.

There are also moments when I place a smile on a face where previously there was only a frown, when the light catches the citrus sheen on a perfectly made martini, when the simple clink of ice in a glass sends shivers down my spine that it all seems worthwhile.

My name is Alex Cotton and I make drinks.

I am also becoming increasingly convinced that this town is trying to kill me.

• From Filthy Still: A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails by Dan Miles, available from www.amazon.com