Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Cocktail recipe grammar


KarynR
 Share

Recommended Posts

Caveat: this post may contain material that will give you bad memories of a high school english teaching demon.

Patience please! what better place to query the nit-picky details of writing up a cocktail recipe than the culinary society of arts and letters?

I'm new to Egullet, I' the events and promotions director for Excalibur Enterprise, an importer of premium cachaças from Brazil. I'm currently revising our cocktail pages and lists on www.belezabrazil.com.

I'm wondering if there is a "style sheet" for cocktail writing:

Does the principal spirit always proceed other ingredients?

unless named by brand, ingredients like "fresh lime juice" and "pineapple juice" should always be lower case, yes?

should simple syrup be captilized?

I'm sorting through caipirinha recipes sent to us from some amazing mixologists, and the grammar usage is all over the board.

I'd truly appreciate any suggestions. Again, sorry to introduce a noodly detail question in such a fun forum. I can't help it, my mom could have been your scary english teacher...

beijo!

karyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've recently found myself in the same boat, so I sympathize with your plight.

Am unware of a cocktail equivalent to the useful Recipes into Type : A Handbook for Cookbook Writers and Editors and The Recipe Writer's Handbook, though I'll be tracking this thread to see if anybody suggests one. My workaround has been to buy a well-edited cocktail recipe book and raid it for elements of style (making adjustments for Canadian usage, of course). The book I've settled on for now is Dave Broom's The New American Bartender's Handbook. Note that my choice of this volume has much less to do with the recipes per se than with the language used to describe them. If someone wants to recommend an editorially more worthwhile work, I'm all ears.

Applying this workaround to your questions:

Does the principal spirit always proceed other ingredients?

Yes. This is different from cookbooks where the general rule is to list ingredients in order of use. Of course, cocktail recipes are seldom as involved as food recipes.

unless named by brand, ingredients like "fresh lime juice" and "pineapple juice" should always be lower case, yes?

Yes. Even ingredients like amaretto, blue curaçao and crème de menthe are lower-cased.

should simple syrup be captilized?

No. Though I have to note that some books initial-cap any ingredient for which they provide a recipe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, we have no AP style sheet or Chicago Manual of Style and the rest.

As long as the internal structure/style adheres, there ought be no problem.

But then again......

When Gary's Orange Bitters hit the market, a lot of the PR focused on "Old Waldorf Bar Days" and the formerly ubiquitous use of Orange Bitters (or, maybe: orange bitters).

I grabbed my copy (It's around here somewhere, hopefully, in a box, in a room, and more than likely in this building, I pray. Gawd! I hate moving) and found a recipe that defies all stylistic conventions.

A cocktail named simply "Dowd" begins thusly, with the first ingredient.

"No bitters"

(I'll edit in the rest when I find that damned book!)

myers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always thought it made sense to list the ingredients in order of volume, then the garnish goes below, then below that go the instructions. Thus, a 3:2:1 Sidecar might be listed like this:

<table width="100%" cellspacing="0" border="1"><tr><td>Sidecar

1.5 ounces Cognac

1 ounce Cointreau

0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice

Lemon twist for garnish

Superfine sugar for rim (optional)

If using a sugared rim: moisten the outside rim of the glass with a piece of lemon and roll in superfine sugar.

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.</td></tr></table>

Any discussion about the drink would go above the recipe. In certain special cases it makes sense to deviate from volume order. This will usually be supported by the discussion of the drink prior to the recipe. For example, Audrey's Tantris Sidecar could go by strict volume order, like this:

<table width="100%" cellspacing="0" border="1"><tr><td>Tantris Sidecar

1 ounce Courvoisier VS Cognac

0.5 ounce Busnel Calvados

0.5 ounce Cointreau

0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice

0.5 ounce simple syrup (1-1)

0.25 ounce pineapple juice

0.25 ounce Green Chartreuse

Lemon twist for garnish

If using a sugared rim: moisten one half of the outside rim of the glass with a piece of lemon and roll in superfine sugar.

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.</td></tr></table>

This is the way I would give the recipe if there were no discussion before. On the other hand, there is something interesting about the way this drink is structured. It is fundamentally a regular "three ingredient" Sidecar, as above, with the different liquors combined to create "new" ingredients: Instead of 1.5 ounces of regular Cognac, the Tantris combines Cognac and Calvados to make a kind of "apple Cognac"; instead of 1 ounce of regular Cointreau, the Tantris combines Cointreau with Green Chartreuse to make a kind of "herbed Cointreau"; instead of a half-ounce of lemon juice, the Tantris adds a little pineapple juice to make a new kind of juice. If I was giving the recipe after having made this description, I might list it more like this:

<table width="100%" cellspacing="0" border="1"><tr><td>Tantris Sidecar

1 ounce Courvoisier VS Cognac

0.5 ounce Busnel Calvados

0.5 ounce Cointreau

0.25 ounce Green Chartreuse

0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice

0.25 ounce pineapple juice

0.5 ounce simple syrup (1:1)

Lemon twist for garnish

If using a sugared rim: moisten one half of the outside rim of the glass with a piece of lemon and roll in superfine sugar.

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.</td></tr></table>

This would be a pretty rare case, however. I would also break the strict volume order in the case of a tall drink where the mixer exceeds the base spirit in volume, putting the spirits in volume order at the top of the list, and the mixer (e.g., tonic water) last.

As for capitalization, I only capitalize things that are brand names or specific designations. For example, I might write "Bacardi white rum" but if I were not specifying the brand, I would write only "white rum" or perhaps "Cuban-style white rum." I also capitalize when the product is named according to a specific location of origin, but not otherwise: thus "Cognac" and "brandy" (and "Calvados" and "apple brandy"). Cachaça is a somewhat interesting case. Fundamentally cachaça is a kind of rum the way Cognac is a kind of brandy. This would incline me towards "Cachaça." If, on the other hand, the idea is that cachaça is not a kind of rum, and represents a distinct category of spirit rather than a designation of origin/style within the category of rum, this would incline me towards "cachaça."

That's my two cents, anyway.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the case of the Tantris Sidecar, I tried to list it in an efficient manner. With that many ingredients, I didn't want to have to bounce back and forth between different jiggers----i.e., using jigger #1, then putting that one down, and picking up jigger #2 (another size), and then having to revert back to jigger #1 again. This way, I streamline the use of the same jigger. In service, every second counts!

Audrey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose it matters a lot on the use to which the recipe is intended.

A recipe that is part of a book or article for the home cocktail enthusiast might list the ingredients a certain way in order to highlight something interesting about the drink (as in my example above), or to highlight an ingredient (I'm sure a book of Brand X cocktails will list Brand X at the top of every list), etc.

On the other hand, a recipe that is intended mostly for practical use, especially in a professional situation, will have entirely different considerations. For example, Audrey's point about switching jiggers is something that would never have occurred to me. Since speed isn't really a consideration for me at home, I use the two ounce angled measuring cups by Oxo rather than a jigger (I don't think many home users use a jigger). As a result, for me it really doesn't matter whether I go in volume order or not. In a bar, though, I can see how it would make a big difference.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Audrey, Sam, carswell and fatdeko

THANKS SO MUCH for your wonderful replies!

Your observations indeed sound like the beginning of the EG Style sheet for cocktail writing. I found myself wondering if the reason for so many "1/2 oz Lime Juice" ingredient listings could have something to do with a german grammar tradition in the cocktail world (German nouns are always capitalized)

Sam's point about Cachaça or cachaça is also interesting. Its been a point of contention within all of our writing about Excalibur Enterprises Cachaças. Then again, its been a point of contention in Brazil as well, as the Brazilian govt has been lobbying for exclusivity for the term Cachaça... Brazil's ministry of agriculture hopes to reserve the name "Cachaça" for spirits distilled from fresh sugar cane juice (not molasses) in Brazil, both the differentiate Cachaça from rum, and to prevent rum-producing countries from introducing their own variations.. So far, the jury is still out.

The FDA calls Cachaça "Brazilian Rum" which is quite a disservice to the product. Cachaça is similar, but the flavor profile and mixing properties are quite different. Cachaça and coke is not en route to becoming a bar staple...

Thanks again for your input! I'll let you know when our new cachaça recipes are up, ready to accept brutal criticism if your fine advice hasn't been properly headed..

Beijo

karyn

I suppose it matters a lot on the use to which the recipe is intended.

A recipe that is part of a book or article for the home cocktail enthusiast might list the ingredients a certain way in order to highlight something interesting about the drink (as in my example above), or to highlight an ingredient (I'm sure a book of Brand X cocktails will list Brand X at the top of every list), etc.

On the other hand, a recipe that is intended mostly for practical use, especially in a professional situation, will have entirely different considerations.  For example, Audrey's point about switching jiggers is something that would never have occurred to me.  Since speed isn't really a consideration for me at home, I use the two ounce angled measuring cups by Oxo rather than a jigger (I don't think many home users use a jigger).  As a result, for me it really doesn't matter whether I go in volume order or not.  In a bar, though, I can see how it would make a big difference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does the principal spirit always proceed other ingredients?

Yes. This is different from cookbooks where the general rule is to list ingredients in order of use. Of course, cocktail recipes are seldom as involved as food recipes.

An exception to this is in layered drinks, where traditionally ingredients were listed by gravity to make for easier layering.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...