Tales of the Cocktail has once again come and gone. But this year has sparked something inside of you. You feel like it is about time you get on to the throwback/craft cocktail bandwagon. Its been around long enough, that you figure this is no longer a phase people are going through, but something that is sticking around for a bit. Only you’re not sure where to begin with it all.
Or perhaps you’re tired of the craft cocktail movement. You’re sick of mustachioed bartenders giving themselves fancy meaningless titles, like mixologist or drink scientist, and lording their “cocktail knowledge” over your head. You figure it shouldn’t take 30 minutes to make a drink and you sure don’t want it served with a heaping side of pretension. You’re out to have a good time, not be lectured for your tastes (or apparent lack thereof). If only someone not dripping with pretension, rolled up jeans and a creepy mustache could make the drinks. Someone like yourself.
Enter Speakeasy by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric of New York’s legendary Employees Only bar. Unlike most books focusing on the classic cocktails and their modern variants, Speakeasy goes beyond a history of the cocktail and a handful of recipes. To help you hit the ground running, the meat of the book opens with the tools you’ll need and the techniques to master to help you craft a great cocktail. Beautiful pictures illustrate some of the harder to grasp techniques to ensure the non-bartenders among us can hit the ground running.
Speakeasy breaks the drink recipes into three categories: Aperitifs; Long drinks and Fancy Cocktails; and Pitchers, Punches, and Sangrias. A fourth section of recipes teaches you a bevy of Homemade Syrups, Cordials, Infusions, and Accompaniments, which will help you make your drinks a completely home crafted product. Of course, these are the things you’ll find in most every cocktail book. What I find separates Speakeasy’s recipe sections is that they will often take a contemporary recipe and follow it with its historic counterparts so you can see the evolution of the drink. They provide you a cocktail family tree, if you will. For a budding cocktail enthusiast, seeing this progression is immensely helpful in learning the basic concepts of building a delicious drink.
Because every cocktail needs a good story (true or not), the recipes are all preceded with a story of the drink. And at the bottom of each page, Speakeasy lays out a variety of tasting notes, much like you’d find for a wine, noting flavors, body, complexity, etc. Wonderful pictures are spread throughout the book to give you a clear vision to strive for in the presentation of your own cocktails. With Speakeasy as your guide, you’ll be crafting amazing cocktails in no time at all. Cheers!