85 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining and Informative
, July 3, 2009
This review is from: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them (Spiral-bound)
"Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails" is a cocktail recipe book, but--as far as recipe books go--is quite readable and is both easy to digest in part or to read cover-to-cover, depending on your mood. Ted Haigh provides detailed (and interesting) back stories on most of the drinks featured in the book, as well as sidebar sections on many of the lesser-known spirits that the recipes call for. In addition to the main parts of the book, Haigh includes an introduction that covers the resurgence of classic cocktails, a glossary, a bibliography, and a resource guide to help you find many of the rarer ingredients he mentions throughout the text. Haigh clearly put a lot of thought and effort into compiling such a comprehensive guide, and it shows: The book is nicely put together and is wonderfully cohesive, with many of the recipes including references to other, similar or related recipes that can be found elsewhere within the book.
I do have a few complaints about the book: First of all, it's spiral-bound, which makes it nice as a recipe book and not so nice as something to sit down and read through. Second, the recipes are often not updated to modern tastes and are geared towards the sweet palates of those who originally created the drinks. For example, try the first cocktail listed, the Almagoozlum, which is virtually undrinkable given its syrupy combination of 1.5 ounces of both Chartreuse and simple syrup, with no citrus to balance. Make sure to carefully review the recipes before pouring and shaking, in order to avoid pouring expensive ingredients down the drain. Finally, the resources section at the end of the book, while a great addition, generally favors a few extremely overpriced Internet retailers. Google around and you'll easily find better options.
All in all, despite these few issues, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the hows, whys, and whens of classic cocktails. I suspect that many of these recipes were forgotten for a good reason (certainly the Almagoozlum!), but just as many deserve to be revisited so that they can once again grace drinkers' glasses. And even if you find the recipes to be entirely without merit, the background stories will still make this book a worthwhile purchase.
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