French Edition published in 2004, Published in Great Britain in 2005*
The book is primarily divided by type of alcohol used, with sections for Vodka, Gin, Whisky, Rum, Tequila, Brandy, Champagne, Other, and Non-Alcoholic.
It also includes a number of recipes for Cocktail snacks.
Each type of alcohol section is divided into, "Dry Cocktails", "Thirst Quenching Cocktails," "Fruit Based Cocktails," "Liqueur Based Cocktails," and "Smooth Cocktails".
A section on the history of Cocktails is interesting, focussing on the bartenders of each epoch. He also adds the rather unique feature of "A Chronological Overview" of cocktail recipes included in the book, as much as possible giving credit to the bartender or cocktail enthusiasts who created the cocktails. As with any historical endeavor, the history and attribution is sometimes questionable, or has been shown to be incorrect since the publication of the book.
On the cocktail philosophy front, the author divides cocktails into three primary components, "base," "modifier," and "flavouring and colouring agents" and gives the three conditions necessary for a successful cocktail as "taste," "apperance," and "the name". He doesn't go beyond that to talk about the spirit in which to present a cocktail successfully or any details about his experience behind the bar or as a cocktail consultant.
The obligatory "Cocktail Preparation" section is well written and illustrated.
The recipes are given using "measures" and fractions, and sometimes teaspoons. For example, the Cosmopolitan is given as: 1 measure vodka, 1/2 measure cranberry juice, 1 teaspoon fresh lime, 1 teaspoon curacao. All recipes are illustrated with a full color picture of the cocktail presented in appropriate glassware.
There are not many unusual ingredients called for. A well stocked bar or home bar shouldn't have too much trouble making the recipes included. Fresh juices are recommended. Aside from Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, very few specific brands are given in recipes (aside from the ubiquitous ones, like Campari.)
The sections which stood out the most to me were the Champagne cocktails and non-alcoholic cocktails. Many more nice looking examples of those two categories here than in any other cocktail book I've seen.
A very nice illustrated section called, "For Greater Insight," follows the main book, including detailed sections on the manufacture of most of the spirits and liqueurs, a glossary of bar terms, and an extensive bibliography. Beyond the simple alphabetical index, he includes an index of cocktails by their main ingredient and a unique index of cocktails by their "appropriate time of drinking".
On the whole, I find it a useful; but, not entirely compelling resource. The author's writing style is quite dry. The pictures, while well done, are not exciting. Very few cocktails are exceptionally garnished beyond the lovely glassware or presented in any context beyond a light box.
One of the main advantages to the book, though, is the inclusion of a number of cocktail recipes created by bartenders in England or Europe. Many of these, like Bradsell's Bramble and Treacle, are only now beginning to show up on American bar menus. It is great to have the recipes for these, and many others, as a reference.
*By the way, I am still slightly confused, and wondering if the English and French versions of the book are the same. There appears to have been another book published in French under the same name in 1995 by an author named Jaques Salle. Neither Salle, nor that edition of the book are mentioned anywhere that I've found in this edition.
Edited by eje, 03 March 2007 - 05:54 PM.