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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Hat or Avant-Garde? : A Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses by A.J. Rathbun Review
I've seen this book offered for awhile, and because the subject seemed outdated I hesitated before finally selecting to review it. Wine cocktails seem to be from a forgotten era while the cover is reminiscent of the 1970's. However, I've read and enjoyed the concoctions within A.J. Rathbun's Dark Spirits so I decided to be adventurous.

Wine Cocktails is a 96...
Published on April 5, 2010 by L. T. Beasimer

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Size matters! Great photographs but little substance in this 96-page entry.
A 96-page cookbook that reads like a magazine; credit Melissa Punch for impulse purchases as her photography stars in this lightweight mixology entry.

A.J. Rathbun and The Harvard Common Press produced two great bartending books. I wrote five-star ratings for Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist released...
Published on August 15, 2010 by Jared Castle


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Size matters! Great photographs but little substance in this 96-page entry., August 15, 2010
This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A 96-page cookbook that reads like a magazine; credit Melissa Punch for impulse purchases as her photography stars in this lightweight mixology entry.

A.J. Rathbun and The Harvard Common Press produced two great bartending books. I wrote five-star ratings for Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist released in 2007 and Dark Spirits: 200 Classy Concoctions Starring Bourbon, Brandy, Scotch, Whiskey, Rum and More released in 2009.

The former came in at 484 pages, a weighty tome that fit better atop a coffee table than crammed between barware. Good Spirits eschewed the standard bartending book organization by alcohol type in favor of separating the 450 recipes into 12 chapters like Unburied Treasures (great old drinks lost to the years), Pacifying a Crowd (punches) and Fresh Faces (newer creations). Rathbun splashed humor in the recipes and sidebars of obscure facts, drink-related prose and bar talk.

Good Spirits won the 2008 Food Photography and Styling Category from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, recognizing the mouth-watering work of photographer Melissa Punch and food stylist Brian Preston-Campbell.

Dark Spirits served 200 cocktail recipes in 307 pages, focusing on darker liquors that often sit in the back of bartending books, behind vodka, tequila and Champagne. Blessed with the luscious photography and styling of Melissa Punch and Brian Preston-Campbell, I enjoyed Dark Spirits more than its predecessor, toting it to several bars for recipe tests. I started the book as a lover of the Rusty Nail and finished it a slave to the Lalla Rookh.

So, why is Wine Cocktails disappointing? The truth is that size matters.

The book offers 50 recipes divided in four, conventional chapters, abandoning much of the charm that made Rathbun's larger works so enjoyable to read. Rathbun fills less than two pages introducing different wine types under the heading, "A Word or Two about Wine." He writes, "The recipes do cover some ground in the wine they use...if you're not a wine aficionado, don't let this worry you."

I wonder who other than a wine aficionado would consider buying this book.

What is the book missing? Well, for example, Rathbun suggests using "a California Chardonnay" for the Champagne Bowler. That type of specificity is what makes this 96-page cookbook so maddening. He should provide a recommended list of 10-15 brands so we know whether a Central Valley Chardonnay (read: mass produced box and jug wine brands) will suffice. The book should include a cursory overview of American Viticultural Areas, some buying tips, storage tips and suggestions from winegrowers, too. That's just off the top of my head; I'd make a longer list but you get the point.

In summary, this 96-page cookbook offers little that is not readily available through a Google search. Melissa Punch's photography makes this a passable coffee table book - yet, there isn't a single picture of a wine bottle in the entire book -- but the writing is a shadow of Rathbun's earlier works.

Rating: 3 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Hat or Avant-Garde? : A Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses by A.J. Rathbun Review, April 5, 2010
This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've seen this book offered for awhile, and because the subject seemed outdated I hesitated before finally selecting to review it. Wine cocktails seem to be from a forgotten era while the cover is reminiscent of the 1970's. However, I've read and enjoyed the concoctions within A.J. Rathbun's Dark Spirits so I decided to be adventurous.

Wine Cocktails is a 96 page book which provides 50 recipes using wine as a major ingredient. Once past the introductions and Wine Cocktail Basics, four chapters of enticing photos and tempting recipes follow then ends with a measurement equivalent chart. The recipe chapters cover reds and rosés, white wine, bubbly, and after dinner drinks. Recipes included well known cocktails such as Sangria and the Kir Royale, as well as lesser known libations like the Gong and Cabernet Crusta. Each recipe begins with a brief paragraph about the cocktail and is typically followed by a quote, notation, or both.

After thumbing through this book, I've determined I'm a bit of a wine snob. White wine seems suitable for mixing, while blending delicious reds and my beloved port into cocktails seem sacrilege. The images are beautifully photographed using 70s style props and are reminiscent of those found in gourmet magazines such as Bon Appétit. I'm not only faced with apprehensions of mixing wine cocktails, but these images make me wonder if I'm being asked to revive a long forgotten tradition. Some of the recipes are noted to come from books printed as far back as the mid 1800's, or more recently from the 40s and 50s. Perhaps this is A.J. Rathbun's creative intent, as he asks us in his introduction to have a little trust in him, recognize a long history of "mixing wine with other ingredients to make scrumptious drinks" and to "take advantage of these flavor minglings."

To retain my trust in A.J. Rathbun, I figured I should skip the whites and test the reds. The Bishop, a divine concoction including lemons, Cabernet Sauvignon and rum, appeared to be a mouth watering starting place. With the use of a muddler, shaker, and a strainer, I quickly shook up a few glasses. With my first sip, my apprehension quickly faded and I was an instant convert. Lady Macbeth was next on my list. The sparkling wine and port cocktail was tasty, but unlike the Bishop I don't look forward to making it again.

A.J. Rathburn has written another interesting cocktail recipe book. Most of the recipes appear to be refreshing poolside cocktails, and require ingredients found in a well stocked bar. Mixing with cheap wines is not advised, and I would agree. If you wouldn't drink the wine on its own, it won't taste better as a cocktail. At the same time, it's not necessary to purchase expensive bottles of wine either. If you are open to a little adventure, give this book and its recipes a chance. I'm confident you will find some new favorites.

PROS:
Beautifully photographed images
Delicious recipes
Uses ingredients found in a well stocked bar

CONS:
The book and material feel dated
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Yummy Wine Cocktails, April 24, 2010
This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
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I never thought about doing much with wine, other than pouring it into my glass and letting it breathe. I am not a wine expert by any means but there were many fun and tasty wine cocktails in this book. The recipes range from complex to simple. I recommend the vanilla-pear mimosa - (or make it a mom-osa which is all I can drink right about now) - delish!

4 stars because I wish that less recipes mixed with other alcohol. We all know what happens when you drink wine all night and then go out and have some tequila shots. So - why do I want to mix the two in a cocktail?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wine Cocktails, November 15, 2012
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This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
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This review is for A. J. Rathbun's Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (part of the 50 Series). The recipes in this book are easy to interpret, clearly presented, and accompanied by gorgeous color photos of the final product. The author also vividly describes the taste of the cocktail, almost to the point that the reader can almost taste it! This book makes me want to try every one of the recipes, which is a very good thing in my opinion.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Way to Use Up the Leftover Wine, May 19, 2010
By 
Anna Hope (PA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
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I've tried my non-bar-tending skills on several concoctions in this book. Thankfully not all the recipes - cuz that would mean I was a lush. But for a patio party or a special holiday morning soaking up sun rays, these are pretty good bevies.

The Reds section uses anything from Merlot to dry Sherry, Cabernet Sauvignon to dry rose', and Chianti. The Aloha punch's tropical fruitiness is great for a party but I kinda disagree with the Bordeaux Cup. The author says "This is a nice summer beverage for evening parties." But our late April evening gathering thought it was more appropriate for Christmas time with its taste of cloves, cinnamon, and allspice.

The Whites uses Savignon Blanc, Riesling, Moselle, Sancerre, Chablis, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and one sparkling wine. This section proved a little harder for me to emulate as I'm located in one of the states where you can only buy what the state liquor stores has hanging around and some of the suggested wines proved impossible for me to get a hold of so I was left using the most standard types. I would definitely suggest the Loire Lemonade even though i couldn't get my hands on any Sancerre.The Muskrat is good but you'll never get that "Muskrat Love" song out of your head,so beware!

The Bounteous Bubbly was my favorite section since I'm a sucker for Champagne. This category can also save you a few bucks by using sparkling wines.The Vanilla-Pear Mimosa was good if a little too alcohol tasting for my like. ( We also tried making them with left over apricot nectar from the Muskrat's with some success) But my hands down favorite is a Kir Royale which I am now hopelessly hooked on. I liked a modified Venetian Spritz with Prosecco, I'm not drinking anything with an olive in it. Ewwww!

The After-Dinner and Exotic Treats section was another area where I was sometimes stuck to find exact or similar bottles. This section does use a bit of vermouth, sake, ice wine, Vin Santo, Pernod, sparkling, Marsala, Port, Sauternes, mead, and sherry. I look forward to trying these as I've heard great things about ice wine but can't get my hands on it and I've tried sake on vacation but can't find it around these parts. Maybe our next toast will be to hope for the state control board to start stocking them.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wine Tales, July 22, 2010
By 
Enrique Torres "Rico" (San Diegotitlan, Califas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
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I love wine. My formative wine drinking years in my 20's was where I cut my teeth on such unsophisticated import grape blends like Lancers and Mateus. Who could forget(well, on a few occasions) the jug wines like Red Mountain or Almaden? Through the years my tastes and palette have developed and become more refined where I can distinguish the various varietals, have a wine collection and have tasted the great wines, like Opus (if you don't know the rest of the name maybe you're more likely to like wine cocktails , hint: we're # ?), of the world. I was curious about this little book and it's suggestions on how to change the wine into cocktails. My furthest exploration, way back in the day , was with wine spritzers. OK, so I bit and read and tried a cocktail or two. One of reasons people like to drink wine is the lower(but not so low) alcohol content as compared to cocktails. If you had the other fire waters you've defeated the purpose, just one winos opinion. The ideas sound good but if you are not into wine you wouldn't want to ruin a perfectly good glass of wine. I would never consider using any wine that I cared about but rather would use something like "Two Buck Chuck" for these cocktails. Cocktails and wine are two different alcoholic drinks but surprisingly, these fancy concoctions pass the taste test when combined for something totally different. The result is a cocktail though, far removed from a glass of wine. Unless you have a well stocked bar you won't be able to make these suggested drinks. The wine punches seem to be good for larger gatherings to keep the masses happy. Wine aficionados, or winos, as I refer to myself don't care much for cocktails (anymore) as much and tend to not have the aforementioned well stocked bar. I gave mine to my sons, who are in that youthful, let's party mode of life that is highlighted by the twenties. They also might be better suited for trying these drinks with their friends, because they prefer cocktails. In conclusion, if you like cocktails you might like this book, if you like wine you wouldn't want to waste a perfectly good glass of vino. Recommended for something different(just not for me)at your cocktail party from this old wino.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Winning formula, April 13, 2010
By 
Michael Smith (Palo Alto, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
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A. J. Rathbun seems to have found a winning formula with his latest book, Wine Cocktails. It is appealing with its shimmering pictures, enticing recipes, light and humorous directions, and tasty concoctions. I appreciated his attention to detail in this book, which is filled with lots of choices in the seemingly unending array of new wines being produced and sold world-wide. It's nice to have more choices with cocktails that don't have to include heavy alcohol and which include the ever popular wine drink.

Even though wine coolers have been popular for years, this book takes wine cocktails to a higher level. Using the popular red, white and bubbly wines readily available, he gives lots of intriguing recipes for both sweet and dry coolers. Each page is introduced with wine cocktails served in appropriate glasses and graced by artful displays. Then he follows with sometimes humorous and short information before giving the recipe specifics. I was especially impressed by the Aloha Punch, Cabernet Crusta and Cactus Berry. Also I learned about liquors, such as Hpnotiq and
Sancerre, which I have never heard of before. That gives me reason to buy and try new beverages, even though it involves purchasing things I may not like or use again.

However, if you are lazy or cheap, it's probably easier to just buy those sweet wine coolers and not fuss with the detailed mixers he suggests. It all depends on how much you want to experiment with medium priced wines. I suppose some people would be leery about serving these recipes to purists who wouldn't think of mixing something else with their favorite, high priced wines. As for me, it's fun to experiment as long as the result is a crowd-pleaser, and I think Rathburn's book will surely provide some great concoctions for your next gathering.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How To Turn Average Priced Wine Into A Delicious Masterpiece!, April 10, 2010
This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
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A.J. Rathbun has written an absolutely fabulous book on making the most delicious wine cocktails out of very average priced wines. This 96 page small book is basically divided into 4 main chapters on wines- Reds and Roses, White Wines, Champagnes and Sparkling Wines and After Dinner and Exotic Drinks (Sherry, Ice Wine, Saki, Vin Santo and others).

These 4 basic category of wines mix well with gin, brandy, other liquors, fresh juices, fresh fruit, herbs and club soda. There is a basic Simply Syrup recipe (Just water and sugar) included which is used in a lot of the wine mixers. A very old mixer ingredient is Bitters, which is now making a comeback, and it's nice to have exactly what Bitters is, explained in this great book. Bitters is an old recipe of herbs, spices, roots, fruits and other ingredients designed to add different notes and flavors to drinks.

Most of the drinks have the basic wine, ice and between 2 to 8 ingredients added, the average having wine, ice and 3 to 5 ingredients, making the drinks simple to create. There are 2 punch bowl wine cocktail recipes, making it extremely easy to prepare, when entertaining a large crowd. Also included in the back is a chart with measurements and their equivalents for really easy mixing. The author also takes the time to explain everything, such as Japanese saki mixes well with many ingredients and that Ice Wine, a Canadian favorite, is actually frozen grapes made into wine. I would have never known what Ice Wine or Bitters were, if not for the author's taking the time to explain everything. I just can't believe how you can take an average priced bottle of wine and turn it into such a delicious masterpiece of a fancy drink! When entertaining, it's always helpful to save money without compromising the quality, and this is a great way to cut corners!

This is a beautiful small, hardcover book with gorgeous full color photographs of the wine cocktails, and even shows the correct glasses used for these delicious drinks. I've tried a couple of these recipes, but can't wait for warm weather this summer to treat our guests to some really beautiful and absolutely delicious wine drinks from this 5 STAR Book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars More Mixological goodness from Rathbun, April 8, 2010
This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
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A.J. Rathbun has been a companion in my liquor cabinet ever since picking up his Dark Spirits: 200 Classy Concoctions Starring Bourbon, Brandy, Scotch, Whiskey, Rum and More. His mix of witty writing and fine cocktail recipes gathered from bartenders all over the United States always goes down smooth and gives me some new ideas.

My interest was definitely piqued then, when I saw Rathbun's latest book "Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers that Show Off your Reds, Whites and Roses." Because Rathbun was doing the writing I knew at the very least I would get a good read out of the book, and probably a handful of new recipes.

Like most people, my experience with wine cocktails was limited to topping off some drinks with a bit of bubbly to give them an effervescent finish, or to brewing up a batch of mulled wine on a dark winter's night. I never really thought of these as "wine cocktails" per se but that is what they were.

Rathbun doesn't spend a lot of time on wine itself, writing there are already plenty of books on the topic available. He does spend a bit of time convincing you to not be shy about mixing your wine with other drinkables to make a cocktail. Drinking is all about having fun, not showing off, and if you can have a good time making wine cocktails then that is enough of an excuse.

The recipes in the book are split pretty evenly between reds and whites, with thirteen red wine recipes (most which recommend a specific red like malbec or cab sav. Only three recipes ask specifically for rose.), twelve white wine recipes (which also occasional recommend a specific white wine), twelve bubbly recipes, finishing up with thirteen "other" recipes featuring treats like port wine, Marsala and sake.

I have enjoyed all of the recipes I have tried, although I haven't tried nearly as many as I would like. Rathbun has a tendency to call for oddities in his drinks, specialty liqueurs of the sort that I have rarely seen much less heard of (an ounce of kirsch? Three ounces of Hpnotiq?). Many of the cocktails also use various spirits such as rum, tequila or vodka to give them some bite and very few are simple wine cocktails. A night pouring from "Wine Cocktails" will take some preparation and some shopping trips.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Want to impress Martha Stewart with some wine cocktails?, March 28, 2010
This review is from: Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series) (Hardcover)
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This colorful book is filled with beautiful pictures of wine cocktails so impressively presented they had me wanting to reach through the pages to try them. Those along with the recipes and information to help you create them so that they'll look just as impressive, quickly lets you know you may be saving many of them to try for when you're hosting a game night, book club or for some other special occassion.

For newbie cocktail makers, A.J. in a breezy style covers the basics -from the cocktail shaker and glassware you'll need to explaining how to make the different garnishes. Making good cocktails, just like making good food, it seems, takes some special equipment and attention to detail. And, even if you have a well stocked bar, also tend to require some special ingredients - ranging from different liquers and types of wine to a variety of spirits. Some of the mixtures are surprising. Suddenly, Sangria is perked up with brandy instead of the usual concoction and white whine is being turned into a "Loire Lemonade" with lemons and lemon-flavored vodka.

Each drink has it's own bar name, a fun, friendly description of it, and easy to follow, specific directions for making it - right down to the garnishes to go with it. In the end, the hardest part of any of these recipes is choosing the right cocktail for the occassion and making sure you have the right utensils and ingredients on hand.

Like any good cook book, reading along there's a few I immediately marked as ones to keep in mind for different types of gatherings, as well as some just to try for fun. In fact, the one we ended up trying first, just to make one was the simplest of the lot- a "Kitty Highball" mixing a red Bordeaux wine, ginger ale and lemon twists. Which, while maybe not as decadently impressive as some of the others featured in the book, was refreshingly perfect on a spring evening.

Bottom Line: If you like entertaining and making punches and cocktails and want to turn out some that would even impress Martha Stewart, or if you just want to learn how you could make some like that, this is the book for you.
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Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses (50 Series)
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