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‘My husband starts squeezing limes at 6pm’: E L James’s life in drinks

The Fifty Shades author, 60, tells Charlotte Vossen about her end-of-week treat, why pisco sours are in the blood – and everything’s rosé when she finishes a book

My mother used to make banana milkshakes when she had some ripe bananas. She’d pop them into a blender with milk and possibly a ton of sugar or honey. They were delicious.

My first taste of alcohol was aged 11 when I sneaked a sip of a ‘snowball’. At Christmas, we’d go round to people’s houses and this advocaat cocktail [with lime juice and lemonade] would always be served. It was popular in the 1970s. I don’t remember it being very strong – or maybe it was – but it looked and tasted magical. I’ve since tried it and it’s not for me at all.

I have about two or three black bean-to-cup coffees a day. Waitrose has a Fairtrade Sumatra coffee that is delicious. We buy a lot of it, so we always have some in the freezer and never run out. I generally make coffee at home, but if I do go out, it’s to Electric Coffee Co in Ealing, West London. They make a very good latte.

My go-to drink has changed after spending a lot of time in Los Angeles. It used to be wine, but Americans tend to drink spirits more than wine or beer, so now it’s cocktails. It could be a number of different cocktails depending on my mood: cosmopolitan, negroni or margarita. And then I move to wine or gin and tonic.

The Fifty Shades author, 60, tells Charlotte Vossen about her end-of-week treat, why pisco sours are in the blood – and everything's rosé when she finishes a book The Fifty Shades author, 60, tells Charlotte Vossen about her end-of-week treat, why pisco sours are in the blood – and everything's rosé when she finishes a book

The Fifty Shades author, 60, tells Charlotte Vossen about her end-of-week treat, why pisco sours are in the blood – and everything’s rosé when she finishes a book

I’m a white wine drinker. Red doesn’t agree with me. I like a Chablis or Montrachet. At this time of the year, I enjoy a lovely rosé with lots of ice. My husband [screenwriter and author Niall Leonard] buys the wine, usually at Waitrose or Majestic. Very suburban of us.

The best bottle of wine I’ve ever had was a white Puligny Montrachet at Hide in Piccadilly. It was delicious, but eye-wateringly expensive. We’d only do that for special occasions, and this was my son’s birthday.

We started our wedding with pisco sours. It was in High Wycombe in 1987. My mother is Chilean, so we always had a bottle of pisco at home. We served the cocktail [pisco, lime, egg white and sugar] to our guests when they arrived, then moved on to champagne and wine.

I really like sparkling water. We have a special tap so it’s just good old filtered Thames water. It’s clever because you can add half sparkling and half still to a glass. When I’m tired, I also like an ice-cold Diet Coke with lemon.

My husband and I joined [TV executive] Tom Gutteridge on a yacht named Fair Lady in Cannes, ahead of the annual television festival. I worked for his production company, Mentorn, at the time. I remember sitting on this wonderful yacht, sipping champagne. Years later, I used that memory to write Christian and Ana’s honeymoon sequence in Fifty Shades Freed.

I like to crack open a bottle of rosé champagne when I finish a book. Either Ruinart Rosé, Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé or Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé – whatever we have cold in the fridge. We usually celebrate in three stages: once I’ve finished writing, when I’ve finished editing and on publication – so there are various champagne moments along the way.

On Friday nights, the author says she and her husband have margaritas. It's something that started in lockdown. Stock image used On Friday nights, the author says she and her husband have margaritas. It's something that started in lockdown. Stock image used

On Friday nights, the author says she and her husband have margaritas. It’s something that started in lockdown. Stock image used

Sipping champagne on a yacht in Cannes, France inspired a passage in her novel. Stock image used Sipping champagne on a yacht in Cannes, France inspired a passage in her novel. Stock image used

Sipping champagne on a yacht in Cannes, France inspired a passage in her novel. Stock image used

James has 'about two or three black bean-to-cup coffees a day'. She says they buy a lot of Waitrose's Fairtrade Sumatra coffee. Stock image used James has 'about two or three black bean-to-cup coffees a day'. She says they buy a lot of Waitrose's Fairtrade Sumatra coffee. Stock image used

James has ‘about two or three black bean-to-cup coffees a day’. She says they buy a lot of Waitrose’s Fairtrade Sumatra coffee. Stock image used

On Friday nights, we have margaritas. It’s something that started in lockdown and now, every Friday at six o’clock, my husband starts squeezing limes – we even bought an automatic lime squeezer. We use a Mexican tequila añejo called Kah, which comes in a painted skull bottle. I usually only have two, but have had four before.

I’d like people to toast me at my funeral with the fantastic pisco sours from Coya on Piccadilly. They’re not something I drink often, but they hold a special memory because of our wedding.

The Missus by E L James is published by Penguin, £9.99

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