Archive for the ‘ Cocktails ’ Category

{Book Review} Kahuna Kevin’s Why is the Rum Gone? By Kahuna Kevin

Why's the Rum Gone?The newer cocktail books of the Tiki genre seem to fall into one of two categories nowadays, one type of book tends to be a well researched tome of full old tiki drink recipes.  The drinks crafted by the patriarchs of tiki decades ago and secretly passed down until revealed today in all their glory.  The other type of book is usually a kitschy collection of (Usually over) simple and (Usually over) sweet recipes complied for the casual home drinker who doesn’t want to spend the time or the money to craft truly complex and tasty drinks.

This is where Kahuna Kevin comes in and offers us a glorious and refreshing third-way in “Why is the Rum Gone?”  Kevin has taken up the banner of the tiki drink-makers of old by crafting original, innovative, complex and most importantly tasty rum based cocktails.  The drinks in his book are not for the faint of heart or weak of liver.  You will often have drinks with over ten ingredients, and many a time they will call for somewhat obscure (Yet still readily available online and in big liquor stores) ingredients.  But when the long and winding recipes are followed you are often treated to magical and mysterious rum based libation that is sure to put your mind at ease and liver on red alert.

My only mild criticism of the book and its recipes is that author is very specific in his ingredients, almost always requesting certain brands and ages of rums, syrups and mixers.  While this is good for providing an accurate replication of the drink as it was developed in the Kahuna’s Tiki Test Labs is can make some drinks a daunting task to round up all the required recipes.  Perhaps calling for slightly more generalized genres of rum would make for a more accessible and serviceable ingredients list.

But baring that one suggestion I am very impressed with Kahuna Kevin’s book and the included recipes.  With forty original concoctions from the “Addled Wench” to the “Unassuming Bastard” you are sure to find something to tickle the taste buds, soothe the nerves and probably kill some brain cells too.  I encourage you to pick up this book if you want some truly original tiki cocktail recipes made in the spirit of what the original tiki drink makers had in mind for their drinks and their patrons.

Advertisements

{Book Review} Speakeasy by Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric

For the Master Mixologist in You.

I have never had a drink at the Employee’s Only Bar in New York, but I have read about and talked to those who have, and I hear only good things.  Employee’s Only appears to be one of the new wave of cocktail bars truly dedicated to not just respecting the cherished history of the cocktail but also moving things forward and I think that is evident in their cocktail recipe book “Speakeasy”.

I say that they look to the past and the future because of the way they have structured the book.  Going through the pages you will find recipes for classic cocktails such as the Manhattan, Martinez, Sidecar, and Negroni and on the following page you will find an Employee’s Only version that either ups the complexity or takes the drink in an exciting new direction.  So not only do you get the great classic recipes, but you also get a new version to try or even inspire your own experiments.

Most recipes do refer to the spirit ingredients by brand name, but almost all of the brand names mentioned are fairly easy to find.  In the re-invented cocktails there is the healthy use of homemade or infused ingredients, thankfully there is an appendix in the back of the book with directions for the production of such ingredients.

So while making some of these cocktails may require a bit of work to get the required ingredients together or produced I have found that I am almost always rewarded by something complex, tasty, and smooth.

In conclusion I guess I would say that if you are a serious drinker and you like real cocktails and you are willing to work for them then this is a great book for you.  Produced by people whom I would consider true mixologists, this book gives you an idea on how they think and approach their craft by adjusting classic recipes and creating new ones.  I have enjoyed this book and I hope you will too.

{Book Review} A Taste for Absinthe by R. Winston Guthrie

I was really looking forward to this book “A Taste For Absinthe, 65 Recipes for Classic & Contemporary Cocktails” by R. Winston Guthrie with James F. Thompson; but this book didn’t really knock my socks off, but was still a solid effort.  Allow me to elaborate:

I would venture to say the book itself is organized into seven major sections; an absinthe primer, classic absinthe recipes, fruit & citrus related absinthe recipes, whiskey & gin related absinthe recipes, liqueurs & bitters related absinthe recipes, modern classics & cutting edge absinthe recipes and an absinthe buying guide.

I will move from back to front.

I found the Absinthe Buying Guide to be a bit inadequate, while they do list 18 different absinthes; there were some omissions that surprised me (La Muse Verte, St. George, etc.).  And instead of giving recommendations (As I would think a buying guide should) instead you are given a website, the name of importer, style, ABV, distillery name, a vague price indicator and a short description.  For what was described as a buying guide, I was a bit disappointed.

Overall when looking at all the recipes in the book I have neither great praise nor complaint.  The recipes vary from relatively simple to complex.  In the ingredient lists for most recipes the products are called for by name brand name.  Normally I wouldn’t consider this a big deal, but when your average bottle of absinthe runs from $45 to $85 it seems a little silly.  There are several recipes however that just call for just absinthe or blanche absinthe.

I am however happy to report that the majority of the recipes were new to me, of course I was familiar to most of the classic recipes listed in the same named section.  So if you are looking for a good collection of new absinthe related cocktail recipes then this book may work out for you.  Also peppered throughout the book are one page “A Moment In Absinthe History” essays.  I found these to be sometimes interesting little snippets of absinthe history that I may or may not have already known.

The absinthe primer at the beginning of the book is probably the best conceived and executed section of the book.  While very little of the information was new to me, I felt it was a well-organized and well laid out introduction to the spirit.  I would easily recommend reading this section for anyone who wanted to learn the basics about absinthe and its production and range or types.

So to conclude, while I would not considered this a new classic cocktail book is still a very solid effort towards collecting and compiling the best of the absinthe related recipes out there right now.  For a non-absinthe fan you would probably want to skip this book, but if you have a passion of love for the green fairy then this belongs on your bookshelf.

Advertisements