Want cardamom tincture for that Apricot Cardamom Flip? It’s here. So are straightforward concoctions such as agave nectar syrup, cinnamon tincture, homemade grenadine, house chocolate liqueur, and prickly pear juice. If you want to tackle more complex recipes, try your hand at a maple syrup gastrique, saffron sharbat, smoked cider air, Angostura-rum fig brûlée, or even — if that’s the way you swing — smoked ice.
The book is a less serious look at the bartenders themselves.* Munat heckles almost all of them. Mercilessly. When writing bartender bios, Munat seems to have followed the dictum that lies reveal truths more than facts do — and outrageous ones apparently drive to the very heart of truth. Each has the ring of an HL Mencken hoax. Even through the teasing, there’s clearly a lot of well-deserved love and respect for the men and women crafting original drinks. Just…verify anything you read about their backgrounds in those pages.
How are those drinks? I’ve had the pleasure of sitting at many of the bars in the book and the recipes here reflect the complex, bold, and bitter flavors that predominate today. No Vodka Red Bulls or Jell-O shots; as Munat writes in his intro for Seattle bartender Tara McLaughlin “Rob Roy had fallen into the DJ/Jäger/VodkañRedBull Zone. And hey, don’t knock till you try it, is all I can say. But that’s not what we’re here to learn about today.”
I'll be spending a lot of time with this little tome over the next few months. In the meanwhile, here’s floral and spicy little number from Tara McLaughlin called the Gin Anthem. Hold the Jäger.
2 oz London Dry gin
1 oz Lillet Blanc
2 drops orange flower water
1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
Stir all the ingredients with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.
The authors note that McClaughlin prefers Pacific Distillery’s Voyager gin for this cocktail.
Ted Munat with Michael Lazar (2010)
Left Coast Libations: The Art of West Coast Bartending
Introduction by Paul Clarke
166 pages, hardback
Left Coast Libations
*Just a few of the bartenders who contributed recipes: Eric Alperin, Anu Apte, Brooke Arthur, Jamie Boudreau, Jennifer Colliau, Marco Dionysos, Matty Eggelston, Lane Ford, Zane Harris, Daniel Hyatt, Lance Mayhew, Duggan McDonnell, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Dave Shenaut, Murray Stenson, Neyah White, Evan Zimmerman, Keith Waldbauer, and Marcos Tello. We'll look for Erik Ellestad and Blair Reynold in the next edition.