A book for a boozy weekend (or two)
You will have no trouble finding something to drink in the simply titled "Cocktails '09" from Food & Wine magazine.
It's a compact white book with candy colors highlighting the various sections: aperitifs, Latin drinks, seasonal drinks, frozen drinks, pitcher drinks, after-dinner drinks, classics, mixologists' drinks and mocktails ... and party food, as an afterthought. It's really about the booze.
I admit, it's not like I needanother cocktail book. I've got a stash of vintage drink books, from a Depression-era treasure called "3 Bottle Bar" (no need to buy all those special liqueurs -- or even vodka) to the swank 1980s "Playboy's Host & Bar Book."
But I find this one charming. It's got lots of cute icon-based codes that quickly show what kind of glass, what kind of liquor and what kind of skill it'll take to make each drink. It's bright and zippy.
And it has drinks that sound both good and simple, like the punches, which allow you to make a delicious drink for a party without spending the whole time behind the bar. I'm absolutely going to whip up a batch of Cajun lemonade -- white rum or vodka mixed with Pimms, lemon juice, sweetener, 7-Up, lemon wheels and Tabasco -- for my next party. Or maybe the Thieves' Punch.
Or maybe a batch of the drink they call the Beatnik (bourbon, port, Averna Amaro and bitters). Will it really get guests reciting poetry?
There are some fancy drinks -- one that requires a thin slice of cucumber to be delicately skewered and folded for its garnish -- for the adventurous bartender. And for the truly lazy drinker, a list of top cocktail bars nationwide.
I think I may have to make room on my shelf for "Cocktails '09." Those 100-plus recipes are just begging to be put to the summer party test.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times