Mood Ring, the astrology-themed, queer-friendly bar where you can order a signature cocktail based on your sign, recently revealed the cover design for its upcoming astrology cocktail recipe book, “Margarita in Retrograde,” and it’s immaculate; a star enjoys a bath in a margarita glass surrounded by all the astrological signs. The book, written by co-owners Vanessa Li and Bowen Goh, will also include nightlife tips and stories tailored for each sign based on their experiences.

Margarita in Retrograde book cover reveal from the Mood Ring Instagram account.

Li and Goh thought “Margarita in Retrograde” would be something akin to a zine that would be circulated among the local community, but similar to the creation of Mood Ring itself, which came about through the help of local artists (at it’s build-up stage, friends and business owners, like that of local bar Rebecca’s, all pitched in to get Mood Ring up and running), the stars aligned for a greater opportunity. 

“The book was initially something we started working on at the very beginning of the pandemic in 2020,” said Li. “One of our friends and someone we actually met through the bar, Clare Mao, is a book agent, and she brought it up to us like, ‘Oh you should do a recipe book of your astrology special cocktails.’ At that time we were like, ‘Oh yeah, that sounds fun!’ We weren’t aware that she had actually shared it with official publishers!”

In the few months that followed the conversation, Li and Goh had sent over a proposal to Mao. After speaking with some of the publishing companies, the two decided to sign a book deal with Abrams Books. The publisher’s website currently includes further information on Mood Ring’s upcoming book release. 

The bar at Mood Ring. Image provided by Sarah Edwards. 

According to Li, the timing worked out, as the initial Covid-19 shutdown gave the co-owners the time needed to expand on the actual cocktail recipes. So many of the recipes included in the book were created by Li and Goh at their home, and the amount of recipes needed exceeded the amount of signature cocktails actually sold at the bar. 

However, a handful of the recipes are drawn from what has been previously offered on Mood Ring’s rotational astrology-themed drinks menu. Other recipes were put together by the bartenders, including Randall Morris and Sarah Rosenblatt. Each recipe is attributed in the book. 

“Margarita in Retrograde” caters to people based on their astrological signs and allows for readers to gravitate towards something different. It’s not a coincidence that this reflects the aesthetic of Mood Ring, which was inspired by a combination of the owners’ many interests. Aside from astrology (be sure to check out the tarot-themed mural painted by artist Lisa Larson-Walker!), the place also took aesthetic influence from the Hong Kong film “In the Mood for Love,” and the bar counter was inspired by an ancient Italian sculpting technique called scagliola.

Sagittarius specialty cocktail, Sorry I Ghosted You, made with hibiscus-infused tito’s vodka, tamarind nectar, black peppercorn simple, lemon and dried orange. Image from the Mood Ring Instagram account. 

“We do think that people coming in for the first time are overwhelmed because of the many details,” commented Li.

“Obviously, a concept bar is not a new thing, but we don’t want just one concept and to stick to that concept. We wanted to pastiche it,” said Bowen. “At the time, when we were opening the bar, we were kind of creating concepts. Astrology in 2017 was still very popular . . . We saw an inherent connection between astrology, nightlife and dating. The compatibility aspect of astrology is something that is very interesting to a lot of people, and so, organically, that fits in.”

Co-owners Vanessa Li and Bowen Goh from the Mood Ring Instagram account

You can typically catch Li and Goh bartending during the weekends along with their fellow bartenders or floating around Mood Ring at 1260 Myrtle Ave. Be sure to pay them a visit and order a drink catered to your sign! You can also visit their sister bar, Heaven or Las Vegas at 4 Irving Ave. and belt out some notes for karaoke. 

Mood Ring’s New Year’s event, Ride or Die, is planned to happen as scheduled under precautions as per the fluctuating conditions of the pandemic. 

You can preorder “Margarita in Retrograde,” which is scheduled to be released on April 19, 2022, on the official Abrams Books website. The book will also be available in Ebook format. 


Featured Image from the Mood Ring Instagram Account

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