Friday, October 29, 2010

Cookbook review: Speakeasy

Speakeasy: Classic Cocktails Reimagined, from New York's Employees Only Bar is one of those fancy cocktail books that makes me want to go buy crazy obscure things at the liquor store. There are your basic cocktail books--Mr. Boston and so on--and then there are these, the kind with carefully lit photos, that employ Black Mission figs and Campari and Pimm's No. 1 and egg white foam in the drinks (those aren't all in the same drink, thank God).

The main problem with books like that is that normal people don't stock Barsol Pisco Quebranta brandy or Benedictine or Ricard pastis in their home bars. So the opportunity for recreating these drinks is minimal. However, I've been to Employees Only. The drinks there are awesome, and while not quite at the mixology level of, say, Death and Company, they are still profoundly complicated and yummy.

My husband has converted me to the Land of the Cocktail. Before him, I was a drink purist. Two ingredients only, and one of the ingredients was usually ice. Grey Goose on the rocks normally, perhaps some Woodford Reserve neat in the winter. But now we experiment with St. Germain and Cointreau and chocolate bitters, and it's great. So I asked him to peruse this book and tell me what he thought.

He determined that he wanted to try a Negroni--a classic drink, which in this incarnation calls for Plymouth gin, Campari, Cinzano sweet vermouth, and an orange twist.

So if you're a beginner home bartender, I recommend sticking with Mr. Boston. If you're stocking Chartreuse in your home bar, then this might be a good book for you. It's definitely for someone interested in, and familiar with, mixology.

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