Tuesday, May 5, 2009

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Kickstart Summer with Three New Cocktail Handbooks

As an historian, I favor old cocktail books with their line drawings, rough paper, and palpable letterpress impressions on pages—the care with which they must be handled all suggest fragile treasures. Even the smell of quietly acidifying old paper has its appeal. After all, any one of those old tomes might contain neglected bits of wisdom, recipes, or processes that been forgotten with the passage of time. It’s from just such old books that I’ve pulled some of my favorite drinks, syrups, tinctures, and other concoctions.

Newer books—those offering 1001 cocktails or purporting to be “complete” guides to mixology—too often merely catalog recipes without an eye to whether they are accurate or even work as balanced creations. Their places on remainder and close-out shelves are well-earned.

Three deserving a closer look, however, have come across my desk recently. With summer on the way, I’ll be referring to each over the next few months for ideas on keeping cool. I’ll talk about each over the next week.

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