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Cocktail Books: The Topic


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Whilst we like to make fun of the Rachael Ray level cocktail books, not everyone is as well versed in basic cocktail knowledge as the rarefied crowd that hangs out here. Certainly there's a need for a well written book that covers stocking your kitchen and bar, basic technique for making flavored syrups and cocktail mixers, etc. as well as includes some recipes and inspiration for the home cocktail hobbyist. I certainly think that's a niche that hasn't really been filled yet. Certainly not by anyone that knows what they're talking about. Someone has to be the Rachael Ray (not the Sandra Lee) of cocktails for the masses. Not everyone can afford to go out and spend $9-12 a pop every time they'd like a well crafted cocktail. More folks are entertaining at home now. Is anyone shedding any light in their path?

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Oh, most certainly, and in fact I own both. But those are more about the classics and still assume you have a basic tool kit in your house/brain. What I'm saying is I'm not sure anyone has filled the niche with a step-by-step approach book for the real cocktail novice that wants to make modern cocktails either of their own creation or cocktails that mimic the signature creative cocktails at their favorite bar or restaurant.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I'm a novice. Not as much a novice as I once was thanks to the people here at eGullet, but a novice nonetheless. Especially when trying to put together my own creations. I have ideas but getting them from the coconut to the glass trips me up more often than I like to admit. It's sort of a badge of shame for me because getting my food ideas to the plate is usually pretty easy. So get to work on that book Katie. :biggrin:

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Whilst we like to make fun of the Rachael Ray level cocktail books, not everyone is as well versed in basic cocktail knowledge as the rarefied crowd that hangs out here. Certainly there's a need for a well written book that covers stocking your kitchen and bar, basic technique for making flavored syrups and cocktail mixers, etc. as well as includes some recipes and inspiration for the home cocktail hobbyist. I certainly think that's a niche that hasn't really been filled yet. Certainly not by anyone that knows what they're talking about. Someone has to be the Rachael Ray (not the Sandra Lee) of cocktails for the masses. Not everyone can afford to go out and spend $9-12 a pop every time they'd like a well crafted cocktail. More folks are entertaining at home now. Is anyone shedding any light in their path?

Thanks for asking this question, Katie. As a novice who is as green as they come, I would love a basic book especially one that addresses home-made ingredients.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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...So get to work on that book Katie. :biggrin:...

Funny you should mention that. I'm in the midst as I type this. Nothing to report yet in terms of a solid publication date (looking at Spring 2012), but publisher is secured, Introduction and first chapter drafts have been submitted, several photo shoots are finished (and several more to come) and I'm knee deep in trying to make flavored simple syrups sound interesting at this moment. Not as easy as you'd think without sounding pedantic. I'll keep you all posted as I move forward.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Thanks for asking this question, Katie. As a novice who is as green as they come, I would love a basic book especially one that addresses home-made ingredients.

Anna - I hope I can make your wish come true then. Tentative title is Market Fresh Cocktails, and you and Tri2Cook are exactly the folks I want in my target audience. Aiming for technique heavy, photo heavy, step-by-step treatment of the subject matter, as well as basics for stocking your kitchen and bar to be able to reproduce the recipes and some food for thought to spark your own creativity.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Certainly there's a need for a well written book that covers stocking your kitchen and bar, basic technique for making flavored syrups and cocktail mixers, etc. as well as includes some recipes and inspiration for the home cocktail hobbyist. I certainly think that's a niche that hasn't really been filled yet. Certainly not by anyone that knows what they're talking about.

I guess I'm unclear about what you mean by a "basic book" -- certainly David Wondrich's Killer Cocktails fills that spot.

Don't get me wrong -- making your own ingredients for cocktails is an interesting subject, but I'm not sure it's what most beginners are looking for. If you're talking about a more experienced audience, then it seems like a great book.

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Less "how to mix a cocktail" for the true novice and more "how to use fresh seasonal ingredients to make your own ingredients" for the home enthusiast that might not have ever thought to make their own mixers rather than using store bought. With step by step photos to illustrate and try and take away the intimidation factor of believing only a commercial kitchen could produce those end results.

I suppose my initial question was more to test the waters and see if there would be any interest in such a thing, without getting figuratively stoned to death by the haters. I didn't really mean to let the cat out the bag quite yet, but Tri2Cook kind of threw me the sucker pitch... :rolleyes:

Someone has to be the Rachael Ray of the cocktail world. No one to my mind has truly brought this to the masses yet. Might as well be me, dontcha think? :biggrin:

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I'm not sure I consider myself a beginner at this point, maybe amatuer would be a better word. I have a very well stocked bar within the limitations of where I live, a pretty clear idea of the concept of craft cocktails and no difficulty with things like making syrups and infusing spirits. What I'm looking to do is learn how to construct with confidence. I want to get from "it tastes pretty good to me" to "this is a good drink, people will enjoy it".

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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What I'm looking to do is learn how to construct with confidence. I want to get from "it tastes pretty good to me" to "this is a good drink, people will enjoy it".

I think that comes with more practice. Like cooking and hosting more dinner parties for your friends, making more cocktails and expanding your repertoire (and your palate) gets you there. You'll start to see certain patterns in recipes. The basic drink "families" constructs will begin to make sense to you and become second nature. And in the end, it remains subjective. As the saying goes, "that's why there's chocolate AND vanilla." You may discover you like drinks dialed less sweet than the typically balanced equal parts of sweetener to citrus for example. What you think tastes good is not always going to please everyone. A lesson I've learned the hard way, believe me...

I admire your dedication. Wanting to have your confidence and skill set be equal to someone that makes a living doing it is admirable. Just don't put myself and my cohorts out of business, OK? :wink:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Less "how to mix a cocktail" for the true novice and more "how to use fresh seasonal ingredients to make your own ingredients" for the home enthusiast that might not have ever thought to make their own mixers rather than using store bought. With step by step photos to illustrate and try and take away the intimidation factor of believing only a commercial kitchen could produce those end results.

I suppose my initial question was more to test the waters and see if there would be any interest in such a thing, without getting figuratively stoned to death by the haters. I didn't really mean to let the cat out the bag quite yet, but Tri2Cook kind of threw me the sucker pitch... :rolleyes:

Someone has to be the Rachael Ray of the cocktail world. No one to my mind has truly brought this to the masses yet. Might as well be me, dontcha think? :biggrin:

I think it's a great subject for a book, but I would not describe it as the Rachael Ray of the cocktail world (not that I have anything against her -- I think her early books and shows play an important role for beginning cooks.

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I suppose the Rachael Ray analogy in my mind is more that she didn't get people to cook that couldn't or didn't know how to boil water, but got folks that liked to cook a little bit more into thinking about the subject a little harder, planning their shopping and cooking more wisely and introduced them to flavors or items they might have been unfamiliar with or intimidated by before.

YMMV.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Wanting to have your confidence and skill set be equal to someone that makes a living doing it is admirable. Just don't put myself and my cohorts out of business, OK? :wink:

No worries there. There are no cocktail bars, craft or crap, withing at least 5 hours of where I live so learning to do it myself at home is my only real option. If I had a quality local cocktail bar where I could pop in for a drink or two, my home bar would probably be of significantly less interest to me. I have this all or nothing thing that doesn't usually let me dabble lightly though. Once I decide to learn something, I tend to jump in with both feet.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Katie -- Good luck with your project. Sounds fun.

I understand the market positioning that you are targeting. Certainly making fresh ingredients (or even just using fresh ingredients) is a big step forward for someone whose idea of a Margarita starts with a bottle of mix.

It sounds like you are also attacking cocktail construction. Some books help the reader understand cocktail families. Helping readers create new cocktails within families (and even outside them) would be great.

Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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Thanks Dan! I hope the explanation above made it all make more sense. I'm certainly not self-impressed enough to think I can move mountains or intransigent non-bartenders to new heights of cocktail craft. But if folks aren't intimidated by the idea of making cocktails at home in the first place, then trying to replicate house made ingredients that might be in the delicious signature cocktails they might have had at their favorite restaurant or bar isn't completely out of the question. In the introduction I talk about how being a genius bartender has a lot more to do with actually TENDING a bar than it does about knowing how to boil water and sugar and hit the start button on the blender. The latter is an achievable goal for almost anyone that isn't completely kitchen impaired. :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Does this e-book have the recipe for PDT's Mariner cocktail? I'm specifically looking for how they make their cardamom syrup.

I just checked and it does not contain that recipe.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Cardamom syrup isn't hard to do. Whether or not the strength of it is equivalent in flavor to the original is the issue. A simple cardamom syrup can be made thusly:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

6 cardamom pods

Make a basic 1:1 simple syrup with water and sugar. Add cardamom pods and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and puree in blender (carefully holding a towel over the top so it doesn't blow up when you start it). Allow to cool overnight and strain through a fine mesh strainer. A gold coffee filter works well for this application.

Having never tried this cocktail (which sounds delicious) I have no idea how they're doing theirs, but this is how I do my own cardamom syrup. If it's too strongly flavored it can always be diluted with more plain simple syrup to the appropriate flavor level. But if it's too weak you have to start over. It's not like over salting soup. You can salvage stuff if it's too strong. It's harder to put more flavor in than to reel it back, if that makes sense.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Theirs is "smoked cardamom" syrup, BTW. Not sure what makes it "smoked."

The Mariner:

2 oz Compass Box Scotch

1/2 oz Smoked cardamom simple syrup

1/4 oz Pineapple juice

1/4 oz Lemon juice

Lemon peel

Stir with ice in a rocks glass. Twist a lemon peel over the drink and drop in glass.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Oh. Didn't see that part. I suspect then that the cardamon pods are run through a smoker first, prior to being simmered and made into syrup? That could be done on a small screen or something...

The Compass Box scotches are all radically different from each other. This recipe needs to specify which one they mean, because drink would taste very different with the Peat Monster (Laphroaig-like) than it would with the Oak Cross (more like a blended), for example.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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That makes a lot more sense with the Oak Cross. Might be one of the few Compass Box bottlings I'd bother to mix with, at least as the base spirit in a cocktail.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 4 weeks later...

Anybody had a peek at the book Ultimate Guide To Spirits & Cocktails by Andre Domine? Noticed it on Amazon after having decided to take the plunge on KS2. Looks as those his past books focus on wine and cooking and there are only 2 reviews so far. Wasn't clear if it was more like KS2 with info on spirits or if it also had a number of cocktail recipes. In any case probably not buying another book right away after paying for KS2.

But there is always Christmas...

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Depaz aroused my curiosity and so I may give that one a try. I think it had a decent review in KS2 as well although I still don't know quite yet whether my tastes are a particularly close match to the authors. The one thing I was surprised by about the book was not so much what was in it but what was not. With so many spirits out there you can't possibly cover everything but many things I looked for weren't in it. Perhaps I just have bad taste in what I choose to buy...

So over the weekend I decided to look at the gins and genevers listed in KS2 to see whether I was just unlucky in the first few items in my liquor cabinet I tried to look up. There are only 13 pages and 51 gins listed in this edition of the book. This is compared to about 125 pages dedicated just to scotch whisky for example. No doubt there are many more brands and variations of scotch than gin but nearly 10 times as many? It is possible I suppose. The fact that there are over nine pages of Cadenhead's scotch whiskies listed would certainly suggest it is so! Or perhaps the author just likes to drink/review scotch more than gin!

Not having the original I don’t know how many others gins were listed in the original edition that are not carried forward to this one. Unfortunately I also don’t have any accurate denominator data to tell me how many gins are currently made (or more appropriately were available in 2007) but a quick perusal of the internet finds about 100 different brands and variations within brands and so I suspect there were at least that many if not many more than that.

I decided to not count the entire category of Old Tom gin which was presumably resurrected starting with Hayman’s Old Tom in about 2007. There were only 2 brands I knew of off the top of my head (Hayman’s and Ransom) but a brief search suggests there may be a few more around now. Since this book was being put together about the same time as this category of gin was being revived the fact that they were noted as being essentially “extinct” can be forgiven! But it does reflect in my mind just how fast the industry has been changing of late though.

I then took a look at my own liquor cabinet which currently has 15 different gins and genevers. Excluding the two Old Tom gins I have and Citadelle Reserve which was not yet even available by the end of 2007 that leaves 12 fairly commonplace brands to try to find in the book.

Turns out there were 9 of these 12 gins listed in KS2. In addition to Citadelle Reserve, Hayman’s Old Tom and Ransom Old Tom which I had initially excluded the three not listed were Bols Genever, Leopold’s and Tanqueray Rangpur. Tanqueray Rangpur was just released in February 2007 so on the one hand perhaps I should cut this one some slack. But on the other hand this was a new product released from a major player in the gin world so I think it would be reasonable to think it would get an early review from a leader in spirits reviews. Leopold’s had been around for a few years but would not have been in the first edition while Bols is also a pretty big name in the spirits world and I presume it has been available for some time. So I feel I should have a reasonable expectation that both would be listed unless perhaps Bols was found in the first edition.

So I suppose 75% of my liquor cabinet is a pretty decent result especially if you presume the book only has at most about 50% of the brands of gins that would have been reasonably available at the time it was published. Since the brands in my modest liquor cabinet are pretty much common ones the focus of the book logically enough would appear to be on what is more commonly available. Still, I think at least two of the ones not present should have been there, if not all three. And I also tend to think of getting 75% as about a “C” average so it would at best get about three stars from me! Recommended but nothing out of the ordinary. That it is relatively unique in what it provides and that it covers many different types of spirits in a single volume is its best selling point I suppose. But does it compete well with a book that focuses on a single type of spirit for completeness in covering a single category? Perhaps not. I will have to see how Gary Regan’s ”The Bartenders Gin Compendium” holds up in a similar comparison to my liquor cabinet.

Speaking of three stars I was curious to see that of the nine brands listed (Aviation, Bluecoat, Boomsma Oude Genever, Cadenhead’s Old Raj (110 proof), Citadelle, Hendrick’s, Magellan, Plymouth and Tanqueray) four of them carried 3 stars while the other four carried the presumably elusive 5 star rating. Bluecoat was the outlier with the somewhat controversial 1 star rating. Having tried Bluecoat for myself I have to conclude he had a bad batch as has been discussed here and elsewhere. But I also think he did the brand a disservice that ran contrary to his own stated philosophy. On page 4 in the section on “inputting” he notes that he will “sometimes return to a product if I feel that there’s a possibility that I’ve been overly harsh or euphoric”. Presumably being as plugged into the spirits review world he would have known that others did not find Bluecoat to be as execrable as he described it and would want to perhaps return to the product to be sure. There is no evidence that he did that as best as I can tell though. In any case it is certainly an outlier.

I have no real idea what, if anything, any of this means. But it was an interesting diversion to me whilst consuming a cocktail or two! Might also try a similar comparison of tequila’s and mescals just to see how that turns out.

Edited by tanstaafl2 (log)

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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