Friday, May 22, 2015

Recommended Read: The 12 Bottle Bar

 The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles, Hundreds of Cocktails, A New Way To Drink by David and Lesley Solmonson.
Find it in the catalog!

This book is great resource for anyone just getting into cocktails or wondering what to stock their bar with for optimal usage.  However, even hardcore cocktail geeks like myself can find some unique and creative recipes in this title.  The 12 Bottle Bar, as the title implies, highlights 12 different types of liquor for you to stock in your home bar, and then provides a plethora of recipes using each or a combination of those liquors.  The authors also supply recommendations of what brands of alcohol to buy for each of the bottles, suggesting both low and medium priced options.  The 12 bottles highlighted include:
  • Brandy
  • Genever
  • Gin
  • Amber Rum
  • White Rum
  • Vodka
  • Whiskey
  • Orange Liqueur
  • Bitters
  • Vermouth
Thankfully, I already had all of these bottles (and several others) in my home bar, so I could pat myself on the back and dive into the recipes!  However, I had to get some specialty ingredients like Orgeat syrup and Grenadine to make a few of the cocktails (mostly of the tropical variety).  To the authors' credit, they provide recipes for all their "mixers."  I'm just lazy and would rather buy than make my own.  Overall, I was really impressed with the quality and creativity of the recipes in this book.

One of my favorite sections of the book was the vodka section.  I'm a little bit of a snob when it comes to vodka.  Which is to say, I think it tastes like nothing, and there are no cocktails that you can make with it that I wouldn't rather have gin or tequila in.  However, this book makes a compelling case for the lesser spirit.  The Lemon Drop is one of my dark, guilty pleasures as a pretend liquor snob, and their recipe for a Limoncello Drop is amazing!  I add a pinch of basil or mint to garnish.  I also was a fan of their straight forward recipe for a Kamikaze shot as well.  Both good entertaining options for my less well drunk friends.

Additionally, I appreciated their chapter on Genever, though I strongly disagree that it is a bottle cocktail newbies should buy.  Genever is an acquired taste; it tastes like vodka mixed with cigarette smoke, and this is coming from a gin lover.  However, I have an ancient bottle of Bols in my freezer that I regret buying, and I appreciated the suggestions to make it slighter more palatable!  But for an actual home bar, I highly recommend buying some reposado tequila instead. 

While I disagree with the Genever recommendation, overall this is a wonderful book for anyone interested in cocktails or entertaining.  A lot of cocktail books have the same old recipes for pre-Prohibition drinks like the Old Fashioned or Last Word.  This book has a some of those recipes, but they also have lots of lesser known or newly created recipes too.  Best of all, you don't have to worry about blowing the bank on expensive, but lesser used liquors like Absinthe or Chartreuse to make any of the drinks in this book! 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Non-Fiction

Here's a selection of new non-fiction titles that recently hit our shelves:

A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News About Food, With Wisdom and Advice on Diets, Food Safety, GMOs, Farming, and More by Mark Bittman. This is a compilation of Bittman's columns for the New York Times. A bit of everything on the topic of food and how we get it.

I Regret Nothing, A Memoir by Jen Lancaster. Another humorous read from Lancaster, who reflects on middle age and her bucket list.

Goebbels: A Biography by Peter Longerich. For the history buffs (especially WWII), you can delve into this over 900-page book on Hitler's henchman Joseph Goebbels.

John Hughes: A Life in Film by Kirk Honeycutt. The size and shape of the book reminds me of a yearbook, which is fitting for this photo-packed reflection on John Hughes' life and films (Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, and more).

What Katie Ate On the Weekend... by Katie Quinn Davies. Gorgeously photographed cookbook, with an international bent.

When To Rob a Bank... And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. From the authors of Freakonomics, comes this new book of the best posts from their years of blogging on their website.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. As the title simply states, Pultizer-prize winning author McCullough focuses on the first brothers of flight.