Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Drinking Cure: Cocktails for what ails you

"Here's to Alcohol!  The cause of- and solution to- all of life's problems."- Homer Simpson ( "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment," The Simpsons: 8th Season).

While many people have turned to drink to (perhaps unwisely) cure their ills, many liqueurs and cocktail mixers were actually created for their medicinal purposes.  That is not to say that turning to your liquor cabinet is the best solution to your cold, though it might make you care a little less about it!  But if you are going to have a drink anyway, why not tailor it to what ails you?  Below are three recent non-fiction titles highlighting the curative properties of drinks.  Enjoy in moderation, of course!:

Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks  by Warren Bobrow (2013).
Call #: 641.874 BOB
Find it in the catalog!

Want your drink to have a little bit of medical history as a side?  Check out this informative book.   As a cocktail geek, I love finding out the role that liqueurs, bitters, and cocktails played in early medicine.  This book goes into a the history of several "restorative" drinks and includes recipes for both traditional and new cocktails made with healing herbs.  The drinks are divided up into seven categories: digestives and other curatives (drinks that aid digestion and other ailments), winter warmers, hot-weather refreshers, restoratives (drinks to cure hangovers), relaxants and toddies (to help you sleep), painkilling libations, and mood enhancers.  I personally argue that any drink will accomplish the last three tasks!

Stand out drinks include a unique spin on the Corpse Reviver using Calvados (apple brandy), gin and cognac  (p. 74, a restorative cocktail), the Cocktail Whisperer's Painkilling System #200 (a Tiki inspired drink with two types of rum, sure to numb your pain!, p. 116), and the Iberville Street Cocktail (a less potent spin on the class New Orlean's cocktail the Sazerac, using Lillet Blanc and brandy. Absinthe makes it a digestive, p. 20).

Dr. Cocktail: 50 Spirited Infusions to Stimulate the Mind and Body by Alex Ott (2012).
Call #: 641.874 OTT
Find it in the catalog!

This book has a more modern spin on the homeopathic cocktails and features drinks that are the author's creation.  If you are all ready a cocktail snob, this is a great book to check out for something new.  It's also recommend for people who prefer their cocktails made with vodka, which is less common in more historical cocktails.   Ott has his drinks divided into several different categories including "appetizing libations,"  aphrodisiacs, and "memory-evoking elixirs" (this sounds kind of scary for those who drink to forget!). 

Stand out drinks include the great for Valentine's Day "Love in a Glass" which mixes vanilla vodka, chocolate syrup, and espresso (p.95); "Bardot"- a combo of citrus flavored vodka and grapefruit juice (p. 118), and "Scottish Mary"- a play on the brunch staple Bloody Mary using Scotch (p. 64). 

Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All by Brad Thomas Parsons (2012).
Call #641.874 PAR
Find it in the catalog!

This is perhaps the geekiest book on the list.  It appeals to those interested in the history of bitters and those ambition enough to want to mix their own.  For those unfamiliar with bitters they are aromatic flavoring agents usually sold in small bottles that you put a couple shakes into a drink to add a particular flavor.  The two most famous types are Angostura Bitters (used in Old Fashions and pretty much everything) and Peychaud's Bitters (used most famously and deliciously in a Sazerac).  Traditionally, bitters were usually invented for their restorative properties (Angostura and Peychaud's included).  This book is an excellent primer on bitters and setting up a decent bar.  Recipes are divided among the traditional cocktails using bitters (i.e. Champagne Cocktail, Manhattan, Negroni, etc.), and new drinks using bitters.  This book is highly recommended to cocktail geeks!