Emma Polen | Editor-in-Chief
This holiday season, curl up next to the Christmas tree with a pet, a good book and The Senior Vice President for Unspecified Administrative Excellence cocktail.
This, among other academically-themed beverages, is part of Duquesne professor Philipp Stelzel’s 2023 cocktail recipe book, “The Faculty Lounge.”
Stelzel’s published work was very much “accidental,” he said. First, he began sampling concoctions during the pandemic with the ingredients he already had available in his Bloomfield apartment. Next, he began posting them to friends on social media. And, finally, after posting a complete list of around 30 different Covid/academia-inspired cocktails to Twitter and gaining popularity, was contacted about getting his recipes published.
Today, in less than half a year since the book’s release, he has sold over 2,000 copies of “The Faculty Lounge.”
Stelzel attributes his success to the relatability inside the satire of his book.
“Many of the things I satirize, they’re not unique to our university,” he said. Between his own experiences throughout his career and that of his friends and fellow academics, Stelzel had plenty of puns to draw from.
“This is not your typical cocktail book,” Stelzel said. “It’s a vehicle for humor.”
While Stelzel is well-versed in the world of academia serving as a professor at Duquesne for nine years he considers himself an amateur to mixology. However, Stelzel embraced his work, finding a simple formula for when he tested recipes, and he stuck to ingredients that were easy to come by. After all, academics are very busy, and “don’t have time to search for exotic ingredients,” Stelzel said.
He sees the cocktail guide not as a way to teach something new, necessarily, but as a means to entertain anyone who is interested anyone interested in the relationship between professor and administration, in graduate studies (aka academics in training) or in general academia.
In his quest to humor academics with a cocktail menu that satirizes their day-to-day lives in the research and education world, Stelzel has also been moved by the support he’s found, even from those outside the Duquesne community.
“I have gotten quite a few messages from people I don’t know,” Stelzel said.
Since beginning his journey in cataloging cocktail recipes, Stelzel knew there was an interest in an academic, drink-making community because of the positive response he received on social media.
However, he had no idea there were so many occasions for cocktail books, and sought inspiration from other punny works, such as “Tequila Mockingbird,” and even physicist Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle” which Stelzel swears is a pun, if only one that the science community could understand (something to do with protons and electrons).
In fact, Stelzel’s first book, before becoming the successful published author of several alcoholic beverages, was “History After Hitler” about post-World War II German and American historians’ perspectives on German history entirely historiographical with no mention of The University Mission Statement. “The Faculty Lounge” asks the maker to “ponder how tasty this cocktail would be. Then remember the reality on campus, pour out the cocktail and have a shot of vinegar instead.”
Since its release, “The Faculty Lounge” has appeared in several outlets throughout the city, including bookstores and local distiller Wigle Whiskey. An event featuring recipes from “The Faculty Lounge” this January at the distillery is already sold out, and Stelzel is excited to share the book with even more people outside the Duquesne community.
“I’m hoping it will introduce the book for a different audience,” he said. “It’s so much fun to engage with people in person and share the story of how this happened and what’s in it.”
Stelzel promises to continue posting recipes and comedy to his Twitter/X (@pjstelzel) and Instagram (philippstelzelthefacultylounge).
While fans await the next installment of Stelzel’s witty recipe writing, they can purchase “The Faculty Lounge” on Amazon, at the university bookstore in the faculty and staff section and straight from the Indiana University Press’ website.