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Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

August 5, 2011 |  8:00 am

Cocktail-book-13 When it gets harder and harder to sell a book to ever more cautious publishers, what to do? 

Publish it yourself.

That’s what Washington, D.C., illustrator Elizabeth Graeber and Washington City Paper writer Orr Shtuhl have done with their quirky and wonderful “Illustrated Guide to Cocktails.”

What fun Graeber must have had illustrating cocktails like Blood & Sand or White Russian.

But it's not all pictures. The book revels in the stories behind each cocktail: "Strong, sweet, and bitter -- a good cocktail has the intrigue of an alluring drama, the joy of a salty-sweet dessert, and the sin of a vice,” writes Shtuhl. “From the raucous innkeepers of the 18th century to the gangster bootleggers of Prohibition, liquor has always had a dark side, and cocktails are the keepers of its lore. Some creation legends include tales of the New York gangster and poker hustler Jack Rose, the Cocktail-book-18 famous matador film Blood and Sand, and a club dancer named Margarita Carmen that eventually became the pin-up actress known as Rita Hayworth."

Buy it on Etsy for $25. It’s a slender 38 pages (with recipes), but think of it this way: that’s two cocktails at most bars.

Check out Graeber’s website, www.elizabethgraeber.com, for prints and drawings for sale, including a set of pen and ink drawings of the Beatles.


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Illustrations: Elizabeth Graeber, www.elizabethgraeber.com