Category Archives: publications

Book Review: Vermouth

vermouth book

Vermouth is closely tied to cocktail culture, a staple ingredient in classics like the Martini or Manhattan. I have written a lengthy post about vermouth here, including some basic history, recipes, and advice for caring for your vermouth.

Adam Ford has just released a comprehensive and beautiful book on this amazing fortified wine, titled: Vermouth, The Revival of the Spirit that Created American Cocktail Culture. Ford does a great job of delivering a helpful and informative book on vermouth, which he reckons is the “world’s oldest alcoholic beverage.”

vermouth book

On rough estimation, I’d say a third of this book is committed to history of vermouth, a third to America’s role in vermouth (historically and currently), and a third is a cocktail recipe section. The heavy leaning toward American vermouth is useful, as there really isn’t much of a source for these facts elsewhere. It’s helpful that the author is an authority on American vermouth – he’s the founder of NY-based Atsby

The photography in Vermouth is melancholy (see the cover photo above, for example), and the photos fit perfectly well with the style and the layout of the book, which has a very clear sense of it’s own style, and fits perfectly with the subject matter. Anyone with a passing interest in cocktail history, and vermouth in particular, will enjoy Ford’s book very much, and the recipes serve as a handy guide for exploring vermouth further as well.

Buy Vermouth from Amazon here.

Abq the Mag: Best of the City 2015


Hello readers!

Every year, Albuquerque the Magazine hosts a Best of the City contest and awards ceremony. I have been honored to be the only blogger to place in the top 5 for the past 2 years…now what I’d really love is to WIN in 2015!

Please click here to cast your vote by August 1 – the Best Blogger category can be found under the “people” header. You don’t need to live in Albuquerque to vote, but if you do, please vote for as many categories as possible!

Book Review: The Craft Cocktail Party

craft cocktail party

“This book is not a comprehensive guide to bartending. It is specifically tailored to making drinks at home, with an eye toward entertaining.” – The Craft Cocktail Party.

The Craft Cocktail Party is a brand new book from one of the U.S.’s best bartenders, Julie Reiner, owner of New York City’s Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge.

This book starts out with exactly the same premise of the very blog you’re reading, so I was hooked with that line. To begin, the photography in this book is wonderful – bravo to Daniel Krieger for that! The layout and typography is also very attractive.

The recipes in the book are varied, ranging from simple classics like a Moscow Mule to newer recipes like Clover Club’s Palo Negro. A warning to Simple Cocktails readers, though: some of these recipes in TCCP are downright complex, requiring you to make an infused syrup a few days before your party.

craft cocktail party

I struggled with the organization of The Craft Cocktail Party, because I felt it didn’t echo the premise of the book itself. I found this home bartender’s guide to be strangely organized into the four seasons of the year, and then further into sub-categories, some with a clear party theme, but others were just drink categories. For example, the Fall section has a “Thanksgiving” chapter, which makes perfect sense as a craft cocktail party occasion, but then it also contains a chapter called “The Classics.” What occasion is that, and why reserve it for the Fall?

Sprinkled throughout the book are entertaining tips, sticking true to the original premise the book promised, appearing in grey boxes throughout the book. But there was maybe one tip for every 30 recipes in this book, so it ends up weighted much more heavily towards cocktails than entertaining.

Overall, TCCP is a beautiful book with jaw-dropping photography and some really good content, but the organization of it seems to waver between a garden-to-glass cocktail book, party drink menu ideas, and a straight-ahead cocktail reference book.

Buy The Craft Cocktail Party here.


Email List and Free book!

Get yourself a free copy of the brand new “Simple Cocktails at Home” by subscribing to my new email list.

This PDF book incorporates the $50 and $100 home bar shopping lists from here, and has recipes from famous bartenders like Jamie BoudreauNatalie Bovis, or 12 Bottle Bar, totaling 32 recipes on 50 pages.  It’s the perfect size for your smart phone or tablet screen and has some photos, too!

Just subscribe to the email newsletter to get your copy.

Buyers guides now available!

simple cocktails buyers guides

I’m excited to announce what may be one of the most useful features available at Simple Cocktails yet: home bar buyers guides!  Whether your budget is $50 or $500, I outline for you the basic ingredients to make the largest amount of cocktails in your price range.  Now go shopping!

Thrift Shop Book Score!

thrift shop cocktail books

I got some great cocktail books at the thrift shops today:

What, When, Where, and How to Drink (1955) by Richard L. Williams and David Myers for 25¢ (Amazon).

Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide by Mr. Boston for 25¢ (Amazon).

Tennessee Legend with a Pictorial of Old Bottles and Jugs by Jack Daniel’s Distillery for $1.99 (Amazon).

The Complete Bartender by Robyn M. Feller for $3.99 (newer edition from Amazon).

…and the score of the day: Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide (1972) by Trader Vic Bergeron for a whopping $3.49! and Amazon are selling it for $30-300.

Don’t forget to look at thrift shops for your old-timey books and glassware.

Book Review: Gin: A Global History

gin a global history book

I just finished reading Gin: A Global History, which I won from 12 Bottle Bar. David and Leslie run the site over there and since Leslie Solmonson’s the author, she also graciously signed the book before sending it to me.

This is part of the Edible Series on food and drink by Reaktion Books, and the series also has books on wine, rum, whiskey, or even cake, sandwiches, and potatoes. They’re small books, 8″x5″, hardbacks with matching vanilla colored dust covers, each with a simple illustration. They are usually around 150 pages, and they make great coffee table books. The Gin book  has 140 pages of content and 15 pages of recipes and reference.

Gin: A Global History is a good book and the brevity makes it easy to read and enjoy. The illustrations and images are big and colorful, so the text here is to the point. Just like it’s title says, it’s a good, concise global history of gin.

gin a global history book

My favorite part is later in the book when the types of gin are compared and described – London Dry’s juniper-forward flavor in Tanqueray or Beefeater, the more Americanized citrus-forward gins like Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray 10, or the new style craft gins such as Hendrick’s and Aviation. I’ve had trouble figuring out why I don’t like Sapphire, and this section alone helped me get to the bottom of it.

Gin: A Global History is a great book, and if you like gin it’s a must-buy.  Having 10 pages of gin based recipes in the back is a nice bonus, and the first one I’m going to try is the Gin and Tonic Sorbet!

Buy the book here and make sure you visit 12 Bottle Bar.  Their site is very similar to ours in that they aim to make home cocktail making accessible for everyone.