Big Little Lies: Not on a School Night

I have previously written about Big Little Lies and now with the TV adaptation getting ready to air, I have decided to revisit this novel a second time. The story focuses on three women, Madeline, Celeste and Jane.  The ladies all have little ones starting kindergarten together and they all end up getting wrapped up in schoolyard politics, marriage issues and growing pains. However, underlying these plot points is the fact that the book is framed in a murder investigation. We know that someone has been killed but we don’t know who or why; Moriarty does a great job at keeping the reader invested and guessing until the end.

This book kept me enthralled from beginning to end not just with the whodunit aspect, but also because of the incredibly relatable characters. If the series is half as well done as the novel, viewers are in for a treat!

Overall, this novel does not have a huge amount of food in it but there is a fair amount of booze; I have chosen to write about the drinks mentioned in the story. The first drink mentioned is the “Perry Surprise” which was featured in an earlier post that you can find here:

Big Little Lies: “Perry’s Surprise”

The second drink, “Not on a School Night” is the focus of this post. It is the potent and delicious drink served during the trivia night at the school. One could argue that it served as a catalyst for the dramatic events of the trivia night.

“Stu: As soon as you walked in the door you were handed one of these girly-looking pink fizzy cocktails.” -Liane Moriarty 


This drink carries some significance in its name.

“…the Year 6 teachers invented it. They’re calling it ‘Not on a School Night’ or something”-Liane Moriarty

The expression “not on a school night” is often used to discourage behavior that would interfere with a good night’s sleep, or overall well being when you have to be alert the next day. Behaviors like drinking, staying up late, and even attending social functions would fall under this category. The adults in the novel engage in all of these behaviors at the trivia night and things end up going badly. The name of the drink is a subtle warning to everyone that’s drinking it.

It is also something typically said by adults to children. It is generally an expression used in parenting. This is interesting because in this instance it is being geared towards the adults in the novel; perhaps as an indication of impending immaturity and (deadly) shenanigans. It also indicates the adults in the story are about to be involved in a bit of “schoolyard drama”; only this time someone ends up dead.


To make this drink I took clues from the text about the ingredients and taste.

“Hey, can you taste mint in this?” said Tom to Jane.                  “That’s it!” said Jane. “So it’s just strawberry puree, champagne–” “–and I’m thinking vodka, ” said Tom. He took another sip. “Maybe quite a lot of vodka.” -Liane Moriarty

So, I started with the mint flavor. You can use either a mint syrup for this or a mint liqueur. I tried both approaches and they both worked taste-wise but found that to get the appropriate alcohol factor indicated in the book, Crème de Menthe was the better choice.

I also didn’t want to drink to have a Vodka-y taste so I went with a strawberry flavored Vodka. I used frozen strawberries and a hand blender to make the strawberry puree. I put these ingredients in the glass first and mixed them together. Then I topped off with the champagne/sparkling wine, I chose an Asti because they tend to be sweeter and I was really happy with the results.


My friend Kelly used to work for a flavor company and specifically with alcohol, so I used her as a consultant on this project.  It was fizzy, pink, delicious and loaded with booze. Perfect. I ended up serving this cocktail at a gathering for my mom’s group and it was a big hit. We did not drink these on a school night!

Not on a School Night

1 oz. Crème de Menthe or mint syrup

3 oz. Strawberry Flavored Vodka

8oz Strawberry puree

6oz Champagne/sparking wine

  1. Mix everything except for the champagne in a large glass.
  2. Add champagne


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