My sister-in-law is an expert bargain book hunter – it doesn’t matter if she is at Barnes & Noble or the local library book sale; Joan ALWAYS roots out the good stuff. She’s also really good at remembering what kinds of things people like and finding books for them…which is how I ended up with an excellent cocktail book for Christmas: The Cocktail Hour by Ben Reed.
At first I thought I’d keep the book on the coffee table and just look at the pictures – the photography is lovely – but then as I got more and more interested in craft cocktails and mixing my own cocktails at home, I realized that this little book was an amazing resource.
I’ve noticed a similarity between cocktail-mixing and cooking: you start to compile a stash of “stock” ingredients that last a fairly long time and can be used across a variety of recipes. Think about the container of vanilla extract you purchase for cookies and use in almost every baked good…the curry powder you use in multiple soups and side dishes…the fish sauce in every vaguely-Asian recipe…these are your vermouths and bitters and good maraschino cherries and liqueurs. You’ll use them in many recipes, but you’ll use a small amount. You buy them for one particular drink but then find they have wide appeal. Indeed, it makes cocktail mixing affordable even when you’re buying good-quality booze: they last awhile and you don’t have to purchase every ingredient for every drink because you begin to build up a store.
My stockpile and my cocktail book are what inspired a recent discovery – the Journalist. I had been gifted a bottle of gin and was flipping through my texts for a new treatment. I stumbled upon a lovely little cocktail and realized that even though it called for five additional ingredients, I had ALL of them from other experiments.
The Journalist is a refreshing concoction of gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, fresh lemon juice, angostura bitters and triple sec. Citrus-y but not sweet; acidic but not overly tart; balanced by the small bit of sweet vermouth and bitters – I thought it was divine. And as a writer, I was partial to the name.
I’ll be keeping the Journalist in the rotation throughout the summer and will continue to attempt to perfect and balance the mix of ingredients – I think it is a delightful and refreshing palate-pleaser.