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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

  • Trophy Room Cocktail — Bourbon, Cognac, Cynar, Maraschino Liqueur, Peychaud's Bitters, Bitters, Orange peel
  • Stiggins' Ruin — Overproof rum, Pineapple rum, Pear liqueur, Gran Classico
  • Operation Fork — Brennivin, Aromatized wine, Herbal liqueur, Absinthe, Wormwood bitters, Cherry, Cherry syrup
  • Songs My Mother Taught Me — Mezcal, Cardamaro, Amaro Montenegro, Fernet Branca, Bitters, Orange peel
  • Calexico — Aquavit, Rye, Herbal liqueur, Bitters, Ancho Reyes Verde chile liqueur, Lemon peel

Recent Discussion

  • Re The Last Wynd, 1 day ago HallA commented:

    Very nicely balanced last word variant. Used honey syrup rather than honey. The combination of the botanicals from the yellow chartreuse and then maraschino is a really nice, complex evolution.

  • Re Jalisco Stroll, 1 day 19 hours ago bkemp1984 commented:

    Really great, though with my combo of Espolon, Gran Classico, and Cocchi Americano, the tequila got kind of lost and I ended up adding about a half oz more.

  • Re Run Through The Jungle, 2 days ago HallA commented:

    My recommendation is that unless you're using kahlua or one of the pretty sweet coffee liqueurs (I actually haven't had galliano ristretto so don't know where it sorts out) I would use the demerara syrup. I usually like things pretty dry so I super super lowballed it (like three drops instead of a bsp and also used scarlet ibis for the non blackstrap rum, which is quite dry) and it was a little unbalanced / too sour.

  • Re Lost in Translation, 2 days ago Todd Birkel commented:

    I happen to have the syrup for the ‘Cubed Old Fashioned’ on hand, which married perfectly with this drink. I used lemon juice instead of lime juice, because it is generally what I prefer. A truly successful whiskey-tiki libation.

  • Re Baby Zombie, 3 days ago HallA commented:

    Dangerously sweet for the booze content. Would be careful to not make this with high fructose grenadine (or take it down) as this is inclined to lean sweet but with the passionfruit and lime there's nice bite there with layers of booze. Very nice,