You may have noticed from my first posting that there will be reviews on here. Don’t worry, it wont be ALL reviews, but as I have a few nice items here I am starting by reviewing a few. The latest fits in nicely with the last: Agent Dmitri was about a spy, which makes me think of James Bond…which makes me think of cocktails. So next we have a review of the Classic Cocktail bible…
When I first received this book from the lovely people at Octopus publishing I decided to give it a test run. Well you have to with a book like this don’t you? Forget the lovely glossy cover, I’ve had some books over the years that entice you in, promise you the earth and then fail on the delivery.
So I set about seeing what I could make with my very limited drinks stash. Bear in mind that I’m the only drinker in the house and had to wipe the dust off a few bottles that have been hidden in the back of a cupboard for far longer than is probably desirable.
The book is a nice sturdy little thing, not one of those big floppy jobs that ends up covered in sticky residue when you try to pour and mix while reading the recipe. And if you do have a teensy spillage, the glossy hard cover wipes clean easily…yes…this was ticked off the list pretty early on when I had an accident with my new cocktail mixer. The book sits nicely in the hand, the pages are a nice quality and they’re even colour coded so you can quickly find your favourite section. The green gin section has been well used in this test drive.
This takes me to the format of the book. There’s a section for each main spirit, so if you like a certain base for your cocktail (or like me you have a limited stock) you can go straight to that section and have a browse. Interspersed throughout these sections are informative little chapters ranging from techniques for mixing your cocktail, through to equipment and even which glasses to use. There are gorgeous pictures that show you what your creation should look like too. There’s also a glossary in there, although I didn’t need to really look at it as the recipes are well written and explain exactly what to do. What I really did like were the tiny bits of information that appear every now and again against a cocktail…a history of the drink, an explanation of the ingredient or alternative names that are used. It just adds to the experience really.
It was also nice to see an index in the back of this book, it’s simple and well constructed though I did have a couple of niggles. For instance I was looking for a grasshopper…I’d heard about it and wanted to see what was in it, but it took me a while as it’s a vodka grasshopper and was listed under vodka. Also daiquiris are listed separately under daiquiri and vodka daiquiri. It’s almost as though the cocktail titles have just been taken and used to make an alphabetical list, nitpicking perhaps, but as an indexer I notice these things. Also it would have been nice to not just have the names of the cocktails and the main spirit indexed, but also the minor ingredients listed. For example…in the house I had cointreau as well as gin and vodka, and in order to see what delicious concoctions I could make I had to browse through all the recipes in the gin and vodka sections. Not really a hardship, but if I’d have been in a hurry it could have become quite annoying.
Overall though, I found this book to be a lovely little thing. I had a look and all the classics are in there, plus lots more – in all 200 recipes to get you opening up your booze cupboard and mentally checking off what cocktails you can make, rather than wondering if you should have coke or tonic with the contents of the bottles in front of you. A lot of these recipes are also deceptively simple or use a small number of ingredients…cocktail party anyone?
Did I mention that gave it a test run? Well…I did, and although I made a number of the cocktails, just to try the recipes for quality control you understand, I found out that my favourite cocktail actually has the three ingredients I usually have in my cupboard (gin, cointreau and a lemon). I have since made a number of White Ladies, just to make sure that the recipe works…and ….erm….I may have to test it a few times more…just to make sure.
This little gem is available from Octopus Publishing
You can buy it on Amazon here but your local independent bookstore would love your custom too.