Food & Wine Cocktails 2009

Book Review 2009

Along with all those juicy, red strawberries and tart, crisp rhubarb stalks filling the markets right now, here's another welcome seasonal arrival: Food &amp Wine Magazine's annual cocktail guide.

Title & Publisher: Food &amp Wine Cocktails 2009. Published by Food &amp Wine Books, 2009.

First impressions:
Mouth-watering photographs, a wide range of recipes (classic to cutting edge, aperitifs to after-dinner, individual to pitcher). Features contributions from many well-known mixologists and signature cocktails from famous bars. A paperback book spun-off from a magazine and published annually, this pocket guide has something of a built-in expiration date.

Number of recipes:
130 cocktail recipes and 27 party-food recipes. The cocktail recipes are grouped into sections: Aperitifs, Latin Drinks, Seasonal Drinks, Frozen Drinks, Pitcher Drinks, After-Dinner Drinks, Classics, Mixologists' Drinks (these are the cutting-edge recipes), and Mocktails (alcohol-free mixed drinks).

The angle:
An all-in-one resource for cocktails and cocktail parties at home, with recommendations for bars across the USA.

Updates from 2008:
Besides a completely new selection of recipes, other updates from the 2008 edition include the addition of "Top Home Bartending Tips," as well as "Taste-Test Winners" among various brands of whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila, and rum (each type of spirit is further broken down into several style categories: white/dark, value/high-end, sipping/mixing, etc.). Recipes are now formatted to include an at-a-glance system of symbols indicating: level of difficulty, type of party food, type of alcohol used, syrups and purees called for, and type of glassware recommended. Absent from the 2009 edition is 2008's list of top liquor stores.

Strengths:
There's something here for everyone - novices and seasoned home bartenders alike. Leading in with a "Cocktail Clinic" section featuring a spirits lexicon, recipes for homemade syrups, a measurement conversion chart, a pictorial guide to various types of glassware and barware, as well as tips for mixing, this book covers all the basics in a user-friendly, accessible way, while venturing into more advanced turf. The index makes recipes easy to search by liquor used.

Recipes for right now:
Cocktails: Josef the Spy (a delicious-sounding seasonal treat with tequila, Cointreau, strawberry-rhubarb syrup, balsamic vinegar, and Sprite), Pimm's Iced Tea (a riff on the classic Pimm's Cup with Pimm's, orange pekoe tea, lemon juice, and agave nectar); Black Friar's Pint (a "Mixologist's Drink" with gin, cardamom-cinnamon-infused Guinness, sherry, bitters, agave nectar, and egg white); Lucky Clover (a "Mocktail" created for the Clover Club in Brooklyn with raspberry syrup, lemon juice, orange flower water, and egg white)
Party Food: Caramelized Onion Dip (a fresh-food take on the old Lipton's classic); Asparagus Tempura (light, crisply battered spears); Shrimp Salad Sliders ("lobster rolls during a recession"); Banger & Egg sandwiches (the hearty British classic re-imagined as finger food).

Recommended?
Definitely. Cocktail novices and old-hands alike will find something here to inspire them.

• Buy the book: Food &amp Wine Cocktails 2009, $14.95

More 2009 Book Reviews
Too Many Cooks by Emily Franklin
Vegan a Go-Go! by Sarah Kramer
BakeWise by Shirley O. Corriher
Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon
Pesach for the Rest of Us by Marge Piercy
Cooking for Friends by Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm
Big Food by Elissa Altman
Edible Schoolyard, by Alice Waters
The River Cottage Meat Book, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Milk, by Anne Mendelson
The New Steak, by Cree LeFavour
Cooking For Two, by Jessica Strand
A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg
Fresh Food From Small Places, by R. J. Ruppenthal
Picture Yourself Cooking with Your Kids, by Beth Sheresh
Eat Feed Autumn Winter, by Anne Bramley
The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet, by Paulette Mitchell
Heirloom Beans, by Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo

(Image: Nora Maynard)

-Nora Maynard

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