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A Spontaneous Libation for your Consideration

From the Knowledge Vault

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh

From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie and Beyond, 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind them

Buy this book. What Ted Haigh lacks in title conciseness, he gives in content quality. The book leads off with a brief history of cocktails. This background provides a context in which to understand the slew of previously little-known cocktails that he selected from the prohibition era and before. These old-and-new-again classics have been adapted as needed for modern tastes and ingredients. Many of the recipes have an interesting history which my guests uniformly enjoy. Other recipes have “drink notes” providing serving ideas, ingredient options, and helpful tips.

With a wire-bound hardcover binding, handsome faux-vintage cocktail pictures, and period photographs, VS&FC can both spiff up a coffee table and lay flat in a bar. The ingredients are clear and presented in both US and metric units. The instructions are written for someone without extensive cocktail knowledge, but the few extra words don’t irritate the experienced cocktail-maker.

The main recipe section leads into a couple dozen concise “extra credit” cocktails. Many important better-known cocktails reside here, such as the Negroni, Sazerac, and Sidecar. These recipes broaden the appeal for the cocktail novice, although many readers will already have these recipes elsewhere. That said, it’s reassuring to read Ted’s take on appropriate ratios and ingredients. He is, after all, known as Dr. Cocktail.

Ted selected twenty-five “Pioneering Champions” — influential on-line writers. For those who follow blogs and social media, the names and websites will be familiar, but the biographies perhaps not. I found this unexpected bonus entertaining. These are writers worth seeking out and following.

Recent Additions

  • Calexico — Aquavit, Rye, Herbal liqueur, Bitters, Ancho Reyes Verde chile liqueur, Lemon peel
  • Rare Hearts — Cognac, Bourbon, Herbal liqueur, Cardamom bitters, Lemon juice, Vanilla syrup
  • Long Peninsula Iced Tea — Light rum, Curaçao, Cola, Lime juice, Simple syrup, Brewed Tea
  • Blueberry Patch — Rye, Ginger liqueur, Blueberry syrup
  • Rhubarbaration — Bourbon, Zucca, Rhubarb syrup

Recent Discussion

  • Re Calexico, 1 hour 25 minutes ago Mixed up in Na… commented:

    This is a remarkably well-balanced and interesting drink with a bit of heat in the finish. Substituted Tattersall aquavit and Old Forester 100-proof rye, as that is what we had on hand.

  • Re Poppies in October, 4 hours 38 minutes ago BamBoozled commented:

    Tasty AF. Used Rittenhouse rye and subbed Italicus liquor for black tea liquor

  • Re Stigmata, 20 hours 55 minutes ago lesliec commented:

    I agree with a previous comment about being 'thin'. Maybe swap amaro/vermouth quantities? But it's pleasant anyway.

  • Re Meatpacker, 2 days ago Biff Malibu commented:

    Cut the bitters - they are out of place.

  • Re Jakarta Mai Tai, 2 days ago Craig E commented:

    So glad you tried it and you liked it! The recipe is built quite directly on the modern version of the Trader Vic Mai Tai, including the nutty curry-leaf syrup in the place of orgeat and even the split rums.