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Diffords Guide to Cocktails #5-1


johnder
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I was at my local barnes and noble looking through the magazine rack and came across something called:

"Diffords Guide to Cocktails #5.1 A-C"

It is an interesting magazine, about 155 pages, full color, high quality paper. The first part of the mag goes through basic bartending equipment, then mixology and then reviews of some of the worlds finest cocktail bars. The majority of the book though covers cocktail recipes A-C. (D-F comes 2/2006)

The recipes run the gamut from some pretty crappy drinks like a Apple & Custard Martini (god help us) to some time proven classics like the Aviation, Corpse Revivier (#1, but not #2)

Given the price is only 7.95 it definatley is a nice guide to have handy, and the layout and photography is pretty amazing. If you see it at your local bookstore, I would say check it out.

Tonight I made a Alaska Martini which had Pymouth Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, Sherry and some orange bitters. It says the recipe was adapted from the Alaska cocktail in the Savoy Cocktail book, and the addition of the Dry Sherry was David Embury's idea in "The fine art of mixing drinks"

It was very tasty.

edit: typo

Edited by johnder (log)

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Simon Difford has been at this for a few years, now. His original quarterly (?) was called, "Sauce Guide". It is a great reference (and aside from classic cocktails) he has focused on what is new, and also highlights interesting recipes from rising bartenders, along with the more established ones. Certainly a bargain at that price, as we always tend to pay 4-5x that much for some book with the same old, boring recipes.

The only thing I object to is refering to that drink as an "Alaska". It drives me nuts when someone (or any publication) alters the flavor profile of a classic with an additional ingrediently and maintains the original name. It's misleading; if you had never had an Alaska before, and came upon this recipe, you would naturally assume that those would be the required ingredients. It certainly warrants another name.

Audrey

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It's funny, I was trolling the magazine section at the bookstore thinking, it's odd that it's "the year of the cocktail"* and, aside from "Modern Mixologist," there isn't even a publication dedicated to the art of the cocktail. There were a couple nice sounding David Wondrich recipes in Gary Regan's column in a whiskey magazine. Then the clouds parted and a bolt of light shown down upon the Difford's Guide.

I found the interview with Tony Conigliaro, a barkeep who has worked with Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck to be the most interesting part.

I've been trying to figure out some way to make some of his more exotic concoctions in my home kitchen. There was one with a chamomile foam that seemed particularly appealing for some reason. Unfortunately, they didn't include recipes for the more unusual elements of the cocktails. There has to be some way to come close without a laboratory.

As far as the recipes go, it seems like there is a preponderence of sweet and/or layered drinks. And who knew there were so many cocktails with Blue Curacao?

I'm also guessing any time you see a brand name, the company paid to get it in there. Why else would every cocktail with scotch call for "Famous Grouse" or every one with liqueur call for a Bols product?

*According to Food and Wine Magazine.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I am glad that it is now called "Diffords guide" as this publication has, and will always be, Simons personal collection of cocktails. His versions of contemporary recipes and classics. Kind of like what Gary Regan does with the recipes on his website and in his newsletter, they are recipes that are altered to suit their own personal tastes. It would be nice if they actually listed the recipes pre-adaptation as well.

Cheers!

George S.

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Hmm... I'm not sure I agree that the recipes in Gary's book would compare to an adaptation such as the one cited above with respect to the Alaska. I may not recall correctly, but I don't think any of Gary's recipes include nontraditional extra ingredients in a classic cocktail. I think it's always a given that a modern recipe book will give the author's preferred tweak of a classic cocktail, within certain parameters. So, if Gary's book specifies a 3:2:1 Sidecar instead of the 2:1:1 Sidecar that appears in so-and-so's book, I still think that's appropriately called a Sidecar (I'm just making up this example, but FWIW I believe Gary's book contains some discussion about tailoring the proportions to your taste and the properties of the cognac). If, on the other hand, Gary's book gave a recipe for a drink made with cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice and a splash of Benedictine and still called it a Sidecar... that would be a problem. Because a "Sidecar" with a splash of Benedictine would have an entirely different flavor profile from the classic, and therefore should really have a different name as it is a completely different cocktail.

All that said, I do agree with what George and Audrey are saying. If the recipe is tweaked to the extent that the flavor profile really changes -- either by radically changing the proportions or, more commonly, by adding, subtracting or changing an ingredient -- it should have a different name.

--

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I should clarify that the listing aside from mentioning that is was tweaked did reference the name of the drink as:

Alaska NEW

It doesn't change the argument you made though that it is very confusing. They would have been better of doing something like Alaska Cocktail #2

The only thing I object to is refering to that drink as an "Alaska".  It drives me nuts when someone (or any publication) alters the flavor profile of a classic with an additional ingrediently and maintains the original name.  It's misleading; if you had never had an Alaska before, and came upon this recipe, you would naturally assume that those would be the required ingredients.  It certainly warrants another name. 

Audrey

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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I was at my local barnes and noble looking through the magazine rack and came across something called:

"Diffords Guide to Cocktails #5.1 A-C"

It is an interesting magazine, about 155 pages, full color, high quality paper.  The first part of the mag goes through basic bartending equipment, then mixology and then reviews of some of the worlds finest cocktail bars.  The majority of the book though covers cocktail recipes A-C.  (D-F comes 2/2006)

The recipes run the gamut from some pretty crappy drinks like a Apple & Custard Martini (god help us) to some time proven classics like the Aviation, Corpse Revivier (#1, but not #2)

Given the price is only 7.95 it definatley is a nice guide to have handy, and the layout and photography is pretty amazing.  If you see it at your local bookstore, I would say check it out.

Tonight I made a Alaska Martini which had Pymouth Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, Sherry and some orange bitters.  It says the recipe was adapted from the Alaska cocktail in the Savoy Cocktail book, and the addition of the Dry Sherry was David Embury's idea in "The fine art of mixing drinks"

It was very tasty.

edit: typo

Simon Difford has been at this for a few years, now.  His original quarterly (?) was called, "Sauce Guide".  It is a great reference (and aside from classic cocktails) he has focused on what is new, and also highlights interesting recipes from rising bartenders, along with the more established ones.  Certainly a bargain at that price, as we always tend to pay 4-5x that much for some book with the same old, boring recipes.

The only thing I object to is refering to that drink as an "Alaska".  It drives me nuts when someone (or any publication) alters the flavor profile of a classic with an additional ingrediently and maintains the original name.  It's misleading; if you had never had an Alaska before, and came upon this recipe, you would naturally assume that those would be the required ingredients.  It certainly warrants another name. 

Audrey

I could have sworn I saw the "Alaska" recipe in Trader Vic's at a 1 1/2 gin, 1/4 Y. Chart.

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In "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" Embury's recipe for the Alaska suggests a ratio of 1 part Yellow Chartreuse to 5-7 parts gin with a lemon twist garnish. No orange bitters mentioned.

About the Alaska, Embury states, "It can be greatly improved by using less Chartreuse and adding 1 or 2 parts dry Sherry. This is the Nome."

It certainly wasn't his idea to call the drink, with the addition of sherry an, "Alaska Martini".

added garnish.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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So Embury can change a cocktail recipe but not the rest of us?

It seems that in the olden days it was common practice to change recipes, but not nowadays. Why?

Are modern cocktail books and those that profit from publishing them trying to dictate how cocktails should be, by trying to provide all in one book solutions to the whole cocktail culture?

George

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So Embury can change a cocktail recipe but not the rest of us?

It seems that in the olden days it was common practice to change recipes, but not nowadays. Why?

George,

That wasn't my point at all. I was just pointing out that Embury called the reformulated Alaska (with dry sherry) a "Nome".

Personally, I don't think a cocktail which doesn't involve some combination of gin, vermouth, and optionally bitters should be called a Martini. But, I'm not a bartender or menu writer.

-Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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It seems that in the olden days it was common practice to change recipes. . .

Can you give any examples of this?

Contrary to your assertion, other than some changes in proportions as tastes change, I have found a remarkable conformity in the ingredients for most classic cocktails from book to book through history. The only instances in which this has tended to not be true is when there never seems to have been any general agreement on the constituents of a certain drink -- perhaps because the original recipe was "lost" or because there were two different ingredient lists from the very beginning.

--

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Are modern cocktail books and those that profit from publishing them trying to dictate how cocktails should be, by trying to provide all in one book solutions to the whole cocktail culture?

Speaking for myself, that's certainly my intention. No deviation, please. At all.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Was thinking more about the naming thing on the train this AM.

Isn't it funny how connotation free the word "Martini" has become?

No one would think of calling some new drink a "Manhattan Old-Fashioned" or "Negroni Aviation". Yet "Whatever Martini" (or "Whatever-tini") is OK.

Surely, there must have been some previous discussions about naming conventions for cocktails?

To me, as a home cocktail maker, it's OK to mess a little with the proportions of a cocktail recipe, as long as you stay relatively close to the spirit of the recipe. Once you start to change the actual ingredients, it's time to think of a new name.

-Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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To me, as a home cocktail maker, it's OK to mess a little with the proportions of a cocktail recipe,  as long as you stay relatively close to the spirit of the recipe.  Once you start to change the actual ingredients, it's time to think of a new name.

Mr. Craddock would have had a lot more trouble filling the pages of the Savoy cocktail book had he stuck to this rule!!

See:

Hoffman House Cocktail

Martini (dry)

Montpelier

Marguerite

All have the same ingredients but in different proportions

This is only one of many examples

Cheers

Ian

Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

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Wow, little did I know I was starting such a debate. I merely was pointing out a nice new magazine. I guess I picked the wrong cocktail to highlight!

:smile:

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Basically what I am saying is where do you draw the line? and what would be the justification for not allowing deviation in a recipe?

As we all know (I think) if we look at historical cocktail books, they do differ at certain points and sometimes do not. People try to justify their own preferences in anyway they see fit, but why? Do they really need to justify anything?

Audrey says that it drives her mad when people alter a drink recipe but don't alter the name of the cocktail. But this is coming from a person who puts bitters into a Mojito and a Julep.

Jerry Thomas http://www.theartofdrink.com/book/pg16.php

and

Tom Bullock http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13487/13487-h/13487-h.htm

Neither of these two cocktail greats put bitters into their juleps, and if they wanted to then they would have.

It seems that sometimes we are using historical precedence to justify our positions on a cocktail recipe, except it seems when it doesn't suit us.

If the flavour profile of a drink is different, where does it stop being valid as one particular kind of drink and have to be re-classified as another?

Splificator says no deviation please. But then who's recipe do we take as being THE recipe which is the one to use . The original? The Best? The Oldest Published?

We also have "cocktail greats" such as DeGroff making a "Bourbon Peach Smash" and "Grapefruit Julep". With the Smash and Julep being used as bywords for "it has mint in it". If he can do this to classic classifications then why not the rest of us?

Why then can't the following be true?

"A strawberry and lychee martini is a martini because it is in a "martini" glass".

DeGroff's use of the word Julep is the same as this use of the word Martini.

Now of course we were referring to drink recipes without prefixs or suffixs or whatever, but where do we draw the line? And who has the right to say what is fair and what is not?

Julio Bermejo makes a Margarita without any orange liqueur in it, and it is a damn fine drink as well.

Jerry Thomas made Whiskey and Brandy Sours without Bitters and eggwhite in them, even though he would have no qualms about putting such things into other drinks.

If Jerry Thomas was not a historical figure and was just another one of "us" posting on a message forum in the year 2006 rather than 1865(?) in a cocktail book, would the way he made his drinks be wrong?

Thomas Bullock uses lemon or lime juice in his Sours. Is he wrong?

If Mister Bullock was alive and posting here today on this forum, would his way of doing things drive Audrey mad?

Dale DeGroff says it is all okay as long as the drink tastes good.

I am sure that Thomas and Bullock would agree.

Cheers!

George

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Splificator says no deviation please. But then who's recipe do we take as being THE recipe which is the one to use . The original? The Best? The Oldest Published?

Actually, I was kidding here; if I didn't have a pathological hatred of yellow smilies I would've attached one.

I completely agree that there are no hard and fast rules here; it's a situation that requires judgement, not obedience. We've got to work in the spirit of the law, because there is essentially no letter.

We also have "cocktail greats" such as DeGroff making a "Bourbon Peach Smash" and "Grapefruit Julep". With the Smash and Julep being used as bywords for "it has mint in it". If he can do this to classic classifications then why not the rest of us?

Why then can't the following be true?

"A strawberry and lychee martini is a martini because it is in a "martini" glass".

DeGroff's use of the word Julep is the same as this use of the word Martini.

A perfect example (and why the quotes around "cocktail greats"--if Dale DeGroff isn't one, who is?). At least since 1895, the Martini has always been the most straight-edge and austere of all cocktails. That's its spirit, that's its essence. You can monkey around with proportions, you can add a dash or two of this or that, but if you know your drinks--not just their production, but the whole culture surrounding them--you know there's a line which you cannot cross and still have it be a Martini. Vodka for gin, ok (grudgingly for some, myself included, but nonetheless). Dry sherry for vermouth, sure. Dash of absinthe, why the hell not. Strawberries and lychees--if you gotta ask....

In other words, the Martini may really be a class of drinks rather than a single formula inscribed on a tablet of stone by the Lord God Jehovah atop Mount Horeb, but that class of drinks has its unique nature and boundaries just like any other.

As do the Julep and the Smash. But their boundaries are of course different. Take the Julep. Historically, its formulation was widely veriable--the whiskey version we know now didn't dominate the class until after the Civil War. Earlier versions were based on brandy, rum, Madeira and such and garnished with fruits and berries in season. There were Pineapple Juleps and Champagne Juleps. DeGroff's elaboration might be anachronistic, but it's not ahistorical. Perhaps the modern boundaries of the class have shrunk, but maybe it's time we reclaimed some of that territory.

If Jerry Thomas was not a historical figure and was just another one of "us" posting on a message forum in the year 2006 rather than 1865(?) in a cocktail book, would the way he made his drinks be wrong?

If he were here, he'd be at the track with Dale rather than hanging around on the internet. Insert smiley face here.

Chizz chizz,

D

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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So I may as well re-classify all cocktails to my own standards, and who ever-else wants to re-classify for themselves can kindly do so.

George S.

All I'm saying is that, in the absence of some central authority to create categories and define recipes and enforce those judgments (and how grim would that be?), one has to rely on one's judgment. If your judgment says that strawberries and lychees a martini do make, well, that's the kind of judgment you have.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Mr. Craddock would have had a lot more trouble filling the pages of the Savoy cocktail book had he stuck to this rule!!

...

All have the same ingredients but in different proportions

This is only one of many examples

Yes, I know.

Some people are lumpers and some are splitters.

I'm somewhere in between.

For example, I often find Gary Regan's cocktail recipes to be too sweet for me.

If I make one of his recipes, I might increase the spirits by 1/2 oz, increase the sour component by 1/4 oz, and decrease the sweet by 1/4 to 1/2 oz. Is it the same cocktail? No. Does the cocktail taste different enough to merit a new name? Not really.

Personally, if I write down or post the recipe, I would give Mr. Regan credit and name it Cocktail_Name Revised. I suppose you could also use a #2 or something.

To me, if a cocktail is in the range of what you might call, "competent bartender free pour error," I don't think it merits a new name.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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In other words, the Martini may really be a class of drinks rather than a single formula inscribed on a tablet of stone by the Lord God Jehovah atop Mount Horeb, but that class of drinks has its unique nature and boundaries just like any other.

the martini aften becomes the sad poster child for this debate, but, really, it's a terrible representative. as dave says above, today, a martini is a class of drinks, usually with vodka or gin, served in a blah, blah, blah...

as far as renaming, eje has it right... changing proportions to, as Regan says, "adjust for taste," why rename it? modifying ingrediants to "improve" the cocktail, give your creation a name!

back to the real topic: who is this difford guy? and if i'm not into sweet cocktails (and already own the "classic" cocktail guides), is this guide worth looking for?

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is this guide worth looking for?

"Difford's Guide to Cocktails" is a quarterly softcover magazine dedicated to cocktails.

It appears there is also a series of publications called, "Difford's Guide to City Drinking: The Best Bars".

This first issue (5.1) has an interview with and recipes from Tony Conigliaro, a pictorial of harry's bar in Paris, an article about essential bar equipment, a guide to "great cocktail bars" around the world, a "how to mix" guide, a number of cocktail recipes (starting with letters A-C) from the hardcover book "Difford's Guide to Cocktails", and some reader submitted cocktail recipes. There are also pictorial features with history about various cocktails.

It is a very handsome publication, with much apparent care taken to photograph all the subjects, cocktails, ingredients, bars, or barkeeps, in the most flattering light.

The interview is nice, as it is uncommon for any publication to talk to a bartender as seriously and in as much detail as you find here. The recent nearly content free, "Year of the Cocktail" issue of Food and Wine springs to mind. If anyone has ideas about how to make licorice syrup, chamomile foam, or where to find liqueur de sapin, please post them.

The over 500 recipes and their associated photos take up about 60 of the 150 pages. Many of the classics (A-C) are here along with newer inventions. As I said above, a lot of the newer drinks are layered drinks, shots, or dessert drinks. I can't imagine garnishing any cocktail with a crumbled cadbury flake bar. There are several here.

As George said above, Mr. Difford takes great pains to present the content as his personal point of view. You may or may not agree with him; but, you can't argue with his passion for cocktails.

I can't answer whether it is worth $8 of your hard earned money, after all, that is a six pack of very nice beer, or most of a cocktail at the Pegu Club.

-Erik

fixed speling and grammer.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Personally I would never name something as unimaginatively as "Strawberry and Lychee Martini", but some people aren't quite as adventurous as myself when it comes to naming a "martini".

Grappacino: Espresso & Italian Grappa, shaken with a touch of amaretto and sugar syrup. Served straight up and garnished with three coffee beans.

Peach Flush: Vodka and Fresh lemon juice, shaken with pureed fresh peaches and a hint of amaretto. Served straight up and finished with lemon zest.

As we are not bound by any rules or regulations we can do as we please. Anyway how many times does someone come into a bar and actually know what everything is on a menu?

If someone has a copy of Diffords Guide behind the bar I will thumb through it, but I won't go and buy a copy myself.

Cheers!

George S.

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For the record, George, I have never in my life made my juleps with bitters. 

Regarding mojitos, we continue to prepare them without bitters as well....but we always do try and offer folks the option, as they are truly delicious.    As is the Queens Park Swizzle.

Audrey

Audrey, my apologies for the confusion on my part.

Are you saying that you don't consider bitters a default in a Mojito, because I am sure (though I may be wrong again) that you have said somewhere that Mojitos are made with bitters in Cuba. Though I have seen no evidence of this, and I have friends who have been to Cuba who say the same thing.

On a seperate note, doesn't giving people the option of adding to their own cocktails after they have been served lead to "accidents" on the customers part. I am referring to your Pegu Club bar, where you have 4 bitters bottles on each table. I can just envision a customer pouring half a bottle of angostura in their drink by mistake, then expecting a replacement. Or are all patrons forwarned of the potency of each bitters bottle?

Cheers!

George S.

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