If you were reading this blog back in May you may remember that I was hired to edit a new guide to cocktail recipes:
If you’ve ever flipped through some of the introductory cocktail guides on the market you know that they’re filled with drinks that either shouldn’t be made or were last made at a Miami nightclub sometime in 1978. And while it’s useful to keep a Big Book of Dumb Drinks on hand for reference, it’s also nice to have a Small Book of Good Drinks That People Will Actually Like. That’s basically what I’m working on now.
I’ve teamed up with a local publishing company in the spirits industry that’s been receiving requests from liquor stores to create a quality, inexpensive paperback cocktail guide for bartenders and home enthusiasts. They’re doing the design, layout, and marketing, and I’m doing the writing and editing. The aim is not to create the biggest recipe book on the market or a lengthy text on the craft of bartending. Rather we want to introduce readers to the basics of mixology and spirits and provide them with some quality recipes to explore; in short, to encourage readers to try a Last Word rather than, say, a Sloe Comfortable Screw Up Against the Wall Mexican Style with a Little Bit of English. (Yes, really.)
That guide is now out. It’s called the Cocktail Collective and it looks like this:
OK, so first, the cover. The publisher insisted on this one over my objections, but let me assure you that there are no actual blue drinks in the book. I thought a bright red Negroni would be just as eye-catching and that the blue drink makes the book look outdated. Unless the Japanese trend of putting blue curacao and Midori in lots of drinks is the next thing to catch on here, in which case the cover is in fact ahead of its time. But either way, there are no blue drinks in the book!
(Quick digression: After a recent visit to Mistral Kitchen where Andrew Bohrer served a Vicious Virgin #2, I may have to rethink my hostility to blue drinks. Perhaps the second edition will have a Negroni on the cover and include an entire chapter on blue curacao.)
As for the actual content, the guide includes more than 200 cocktail recipes in chapters devoted to brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, and assorted spirits like aquavit, genever, and amari. There are also basic introductions to each spirit, instruction on basic mixing technique, and advice for stocking a home bar. Throughout the emphasis is on spirits that are in reasonably wide distribution and fresh ingredients that require a minimum of preparation. The guide is pocket-sized and spiral bound so that it will lay conveniently flat while one mixes a drink.
The guide is by no means a replacement for the more comprehensive books on the market, but it does fill a niche for an inexpensive cocktail book that’s not filled with terrible recipes some intern cobbled together from the internet. (For those more comprehensive books, see once again Andrew Bohrer, and buy the books he recommends if you want to get serious about cocktails.) It’s a mix of classics, popular drinks, a few of my own cocktails, and contributions from other bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. The latter greatly improved the quality of the guide. It’s a stellar a list of contributors and I’m very grateful to them for sharing their creations:
Anu Apte, Stephen Beaumont, David Buehrer, Frank Cisneros, Ryan Csanky, John Deragon, Michael Dietsch, Ron Dollete, Jabriel Donohue, Meagan Dorman, Camper English, Andrew Finkelman, Ricky Gomez, Peter Gugni, Jenn Hegstrom, Neil Kopplin, Mindy Kucan, Tom Lindstedt, Kevin Ludwig, Elizabeth Markham, Lance Mayhew, Jim Meehan, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Blair Reynolds, Adam Robinson, Matt Robold, Jim Romdall, Stephen Shellenberger, David Shenaut, Chris Stave, Kelley Swenson, Jeremy James Thompson, Keith Waldbauer, Stephen Warner, Allison Webber, Neyah White, Rocky Yeh
So even if you have plenty of other books full of classic recipes, my guess is that at the very least you’ll find something new and interesting from these folks.
If you’d like to purchase a copy, you can order directly from the publisher here. It’s also available through Amazon. Or if you’re in Portland, we’ll be selling them at Circa 33 this Wednesday, December 22, from 6-8:30 pm. I’ll be guest bartending with my friend Leslie Bucher while we serve a menu of cocktails selected from the guide. Join us for a drink and pick up a last minute stocking stuffer for the cocktail lover in your life.