There comes a time in every amateur bartender’s life when you have to leave the college staple of jungle juice (or in my Caribbean circles—curiously strong rum punch) in the past along with your twin bed and hastily written research papers. Even I had to be (not so) gently admonished that Stoli Razberi and Red Bull was not a proper drink. As we mature, expectations are raised.
However, as Eric Prum and Josh William remind us, cocktails should still be fun, simple and social. Shake (Wine Enthusiast) is the manual for everyone who wants to dazzle at their next get-together without an overwhelming amount of preparation. No longer are good and proper drinks relegated to the new hip bar. The foreword, written by Serious Eats contributor Lauren Sloss, tells the reader what they need to know and they should expect from this visually stunning tome. SHAKE demystifies mixology – making it comfortable and accessible to everyone.
Starting with Cocktail Crafting 101, which models itself after an introductory course for a major in Mixology, SHAKE gives the reader a solid foundation on home bar setup. Once the foundation has been laid, the real fun begins. From there, Prum and Williams go on a well-watered walkabout through the seasons. While the bounty of fresh produce, herbs, and yes, even flowers featured spring and summer recipes aren’t as available in fall and winter, they’re more than made up for by the deeper, richer flavors of concord grapes, cider, nogs and even a hit of dried chiles. All the cocktails combine the typical with the unusual in ways that make even the most experienced barkeep raise an eyebrow—and a glass.
As you leaf through the glossy pages filled with pictures of bright fresh fruits and flowers, shiny bar tools and the cute-as-a-pair-of-new-buttons authors, you are sure to find your next signature libation. With fall in full swing, I think that I will trade my customary vodka gimlet for the Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour. According to Plum and Williams, this drink qualifies as a brunch dish, so it is a double win.
The Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour
The Particulars (makes two drinks)
3 shots bourbon
1 & 1/2 shots fresh lemon juice
3/4 shot dark amber maple syrup
1 large sprig of rosemary (plus 2 small sprigs for garnish)
Crush the large sprig in your hand and add it to the shaker.
Add the bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup, and ice to above the level above the liquid and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
Strain the mixture into rocks glasses containing large cubes of ice and garnish with remaining rosemary sprigs.