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Review – Cosmo’s Official Cocktail Book

Posted by Reese On May - 31 - 2011

Cosmo's Official Cocktail BookLet’s get something very clear.  I’m not a reader of Cosmo.  But, that said, I did have a subscription to Maxim for a couple years and, let’s face it, you remove the gender slant and they’re really the same thing.  So, when my review copy of Cosmo’s Official Cocktail Book arrived I tore into it in search of the lost secrets of how to please my man and get him liquored up in the process (wait a sec…).  What I found was a pretty good collection of cocktails and some fun stuff thrown in for kicks.

The recipes in Cosmo’s book, not surprisingly, lean toward the sweet side, but they do add some fun ingredient twists and they’re actually not half bad cocktails.  In addition, throughout the book you get little quizzes, tips, facts, etc.  On top of all that there are a pair of features that I really like.  First, the recipes are all fairly simple with easily accessible ingredients.  And, on that note, if there is an ingredient you’re not familiar with you can look it up in the back of the book to get an idea of the flavor, etc.  Second, there is a “Cocktail Crash Course” section at the end of the book that introduces the tools, spirits and some pointers from a bartender.  These features make the book accessible to cocktail mixers of all skill levels, which I think is exactly how books like this should be.  I do have one complaint, which was pointed out by my loyal test subject, the cocktail pictures don’t always show the true look and color of the cocktails.  While this is likely not a problem for a guy, it was pointed out that some ladies out there might pick cocktails to match a color palate.  So, knowing that, make sure you mix up a sample cocktail to see if the colors work and, bonus, you get to drink the sample.

Blood Orange Bonanza

Blood Orange Bonanza (Cosmo's Official Cocktail Book)
3 oz X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 oz Light Rum
1/2 oz Grenadine
1) Combine ingredients in a blender
2) Add a handful of ice and blend until smooth
3) Garnish with a slice of blood orange

First, let me say 70′s blenders are rarely going to get you a picture perfect frozen drink.  Mine sure as hell didn’t, but enough whining.  Like a number of cocktails in this book, the Blood Orange Bonanza is very pink.  But, like cocktails in the past, I’m going to let that slide.  It’s all about the flavor, right?  This drink was a little too sweet for me at first, but it was well received by Elisabeth.  And, as the ice melted a bit the sweetness was cut and the overall flavor is quite nice.  The liqueur offers some bright fruit flavors and the rum rounds it all out.  I could have used a bit more sourness in this for my taste, I’d say a touch of lime juice or even blood orange juice would do some great things.

I added about 2 oz of prosecco once I’d had my initial sips and was really pleased.  The prosecco cut the sweetness and gave the drink a really pleasant effervescence.  I’d definitely suggest giving that twist a try if you mix up this cocktail.  We also mixed up a few others from the book so keep an eye out for the recipes and my thoughts.

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Cocktail Town: San Francisco

Posted by Reese On April - 5 - 2011

Cocktail TownTraveling to a new city can always be a bit daunting.  Unfamiliar streets, unfamiliar restaurants, unfamiliar landmarks and, possibly the worst, no knowledge of where to go for a good cocktail to calm your nerves.   Cocktail Town takes the guess work out of that problem and shows you around the cocktail hotspots.

This is the travel guidebook booze hounds have been looking for.  The project isn’t all about books, though.  It’s actually a combination of a website and a series of coffee table style books.  The first book in the series covers the cocktail scene in San Francisco.  Starting first with a look at the local distilleries (Distillery 209 and St. George) and followed by a look at classic ingredient producer Small Hand Foods.

Then the book gets into the meat of the topic, the cocktail hotspots of the area.  Each spot has an overview of the atmosphere and the feel of the cocktail menu (i.e. classic cocktails, twists on favorites, etc).  In addition, Cocktail Town includes a signature recipe from each spot.  The photography and recipes alone were enough to keep me flipping through this book.  The photos are stunning and the recipes highlight the creativity of the bartender’s craft.

If you’re looking for an introduction to the cocktail hotspots in the San Francisco area and some great recipes, Cocktail Town is well worth a look.  The web site includes the same info as the book and supplements the recipes with how-to videos, so that’s where I’d start.

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.


The Bubbly Bar

Posted by Reese On December - 28 - 2009

A few months ago I received a review copy of Maria Hunt‘s new book The Bubbly Bar.  Unlike most cocktail books, this one centers entirely on Champagne based cocktails.  The book starts, as it should, with the classics.  Some I’ve featured already (eg The Champagne Cocktail and the French 75) and some I have not (look for the Bellini and the Kir Royale later this week).  After the classics are laid down Maria goes on to cover more recent creations.  Amongst these are  riffs on other cocktails (like the Aperol Flip and Ruby Red Sangria) and original cocktail creations (like the Violet Fizz, which I’m going to mix up later this week, and the Cucumber Cooler which I’ve listed below).

The recipes are straight forward, using fairly common ingredients for the most part.  Another definite high point is that Maria put some effort in to making the drinks balanced.  Which, in a world where a lot of restaurant creations are much too sweet, is very welcome.  In addition to the well thought out recipes, the photographs are also quite stunning.  Overall, the book is well done and worth checking out if you’re looking for some new ways to enjoy an old classic.

Cucumber Cooler (The Bubbly Bar)
6 Thin Slices of Cucumber
1/2 oz Vodka
Juice of 1/2 Lime
3/4 oz Agave Nectar
5 oz Dry Sparkling Sake
1 Cube of Cucumber
1) Muddle vodka and cucumber in a rocks glass
2) Add lemon juice and agave nectar
3) Stir to mix thoroughly
4) Fill glass 3/4 full with ice
5) Top with sparkling sake
6) Garnish with a cucumber cube

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Christmas in July!!!

Posted by Reese On July - 30 - 2008

Santa came extra early this year folks! Shortly after we launched the site my Aunt Ronnie ordered a boat load of cocktail books from Harper Collins. They all arrived yesterday!  As a result the Cocktail Hacker library has increased exponentially.

Here’s the list of books that Ronnie got for us:

The Ultimate Party Drink Book – Bruce Weinstein
The Bartender’s Bible – Gary Regan
Cocktails: An Indispensable Guide For the Budding Mixologist – Jeremy Harwood
Beer – Eve Adamson
champagne – Don and Petie Kladstrup
Shaken not Stirred -  Anistatia R. Miller and Jared M. Brown
In the Land of Cocktails – TI Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan
The Complete Book of Spirits – Anthony Dias Blue
The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks – Anthony Dias Blue

I’m really looking forward to reading each of these and we’ll be posting reviews/highlights as we do.  Thanks so much Ronnie!