The most delightful cocktail book I've ever read
Reviewed in the United States on 29 March 2020
Did I really need another cocktail book? No. And perhaps you don't either, but if you like cocktails or even just the idea of cocktails, then this book is an absolute must-have, imo.
I decided to go ahead and buy it for two reasons:
- it was written by one of my favorite food writers, and
- it was so reasonably priced that I thought it was worth the gamble.
Good decision, because I ended up with one of the most delightful books I've ever purchased, not just on drink, but on any subject. The book is quite a lot heftier than I expected, the photos are wonderful, and the gold spine was not only an attractive surprise, but it makes finding this book on the shelf that much easier ;-)
The first thing I did was to try one of the food recipes. I had guests coming who really know and love food, so I chose to make:
-- Baked Camembert with Walnuts, Figs and Whiskey Gastrique. Oh my, oh my, oh my! I've used many baked brie recipes, but this one put all others to shame. My only regret was not having made two of them since they were so quickly devoured, with raves from everyone.
-- Cornichon Tapenade Deviled Eggs. If you love deviled eggs that have a bite of good pickle in them, this is the new one to try. I can't wait to make this again.
The recipes in the food section are not numerous, but they are all such perfect accompaniments to drinks that I really don't need more, especially when they are they likes of rillette, terrine, gougere, and more, none of which look too daunting to a home cook like me.
Then on to the cocktails. I never realized that many of my favorite cocktails were French in origin, although I might have guessed. Even my beloved Negroni! which Lebovitz does not hesitate to point out may actually be French in origin.
A good part of the charm of this book is all of the information that's packed into it - the customs, traditions, and history in particular. The difficult part of this book is deciding which cocktail to make! The names alone are so much fun to read - Revised Obituary, My Tailor Is Rich, Scofflaw, Seat of Your Pants, etc - that it's hard to pick one, even if you've managed to narrow things down by preferred spirit. Suffice it to say that if all of the cocktails are as delicious as the French 75 I made, and I expect they are, then I'm in trouble.
But there's more.
I have long been wanting to do two things at home:
- make my own vermouth (if you have ever ventured into vermouth territory beyond the best-known brands, you know how amazing vermouth can be on its own, on ice with only a fat twist of orange peel), and
- make elderberry anything.
Lebovitz obliges with recipes for Vermouth Maison, Elderflower Wine, and an Elderflower Cordial. I will update after I tackle these.
Some ingredients are harder to find than others and there are a number of them that I know I will have to get online. But there are enough recipes to make with things that are easy enough to find to make this book more than worthwhile.
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