Top positive review
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Easy to Follow, Comprehensive Cocktail Guide
on 11 February 2012
As a cocktail guide this book has many virtues. It perhaps falls a little short of being the ultimate bar book, however.
Physically, the book is a small (5 1/2" x 7"), robustly packaged hardback with covers that spilt drinks should wipe off. Its size makes it easy to carry and find space for. However, it also means that the writing is necessarily small and the book tends to close easily rather than staying open - inconvient if you want to remind yourself of an ingredient whilst mixing.
The guide is very thorough. It is divided into sections by different types of drinks: beers & sakes, brandies, sparkling wines, ordinary wines, gins, liquers, rums, tequilas, vodkas and whiskies, along with a couple more, all get their own sections. Each section starts with a discussion of that particular drink, so the brandy section tells one about the different types of Cognac, the differences to Armagnac and other brandy-like styles from Calvados to Grappa to Pisco brandy. Whilst short, these sections are informative and useful. For those of us who aren't drinks experts there are likely to be a few interesting nuggets of information. Particularly apparent in these sections is the fact that the book is written from a U.S. perspective and availabilities of different drinks are bound to vary as a result.
Each section then moves onto the cocktails that can be made from the drink type under discussion. The guide has plenty of recipes: I can't see myself running out of new drinks to mix simply with this one guide any time soon. None of the recipes are complicated, some are rather more unusual than in other cocktail books.
Many of the cocktails come with a short description of origins of the drink mix; classic coctktails (such as the Martini, Sidecar, French 75, Daiquiri, Old Fashioned or Manhattan) get their own little sections spelling out something of the history of the drink as well as recipes and variations. These are much appreciated and lift the book from something more than a selection of recipes, giving the potent cococtions their sheen of glamour. Each cocktail also comes with a symbol showing the type of glass to use to serve it - a nice touch.
A disadvantage of this layout is that cocktails that contain more than one type of liquor consequently show up multiple times under each ingredient. Interestingly, the recipes given are often ever so slightly different. Also, whilst comprehensive in terms of recipes and ingredients, it does not look at cocktails in terms of the styles of mixing. The Bompas and Parr cocktail book, for instance, whilst nothing like as comprehensive, scores to some extent because it looks at styles of mixes as well the specific ingredients for each cocktail.
Other sections include a very thorough look at cocktail equipment and advice on 'Smooth Entertaining'. Personally, I'm not sure these add very much.
Recommended, then, for its comprehensive nature and easy to follow cocktail recipes.