Review: Simon Difford's Cocktails Made Easy
Difford’s Cocktails Made Easy proposes that the average enjoyer of cocktails can make a boastful 500 cocktails from a mere 14 key ingredients in the comfort of his or her home.
Upon opening the manuscript, I cannot help but think of the Absolut Vodka ads I used to thumb through in glossy magazines during the mid-90s. The first 28 pages are dedicated to the 14 very specific brands of spirits that you will need to execute any cocktail in this book, meaning 2 pages for each spirit. Now, I believe that product knowledge and education is essential, but I am suspicious of the sleek full-paged photo of a bottle of Don Julio Blanco Tequila opposite three quarters of a page of brand information, complete with web address and pronunciation. Difford is not prejudice to just alcoholic ingredients either. In “fridge and pantry essentials” you see pictorial representation of, not just any cranberry juice, but Ocean Spray Cranberry juice, as well as Tropicana orange juice, Angostura Bitters, and Fever Tree mixers.
The next section of “Bartending Basics” is concise and easy reading for your average consumer and cocktail drinker. The language is appropriate for the audience while informative and fairly accurate.
The cocktails are listed from A-Z. Sadly, there is no index. So, if you had a drink at a bar or have heard of a drink by name, you can simply look it up. However, if you are craving a gin-based cocktail with mint and possibly some egg whites, you have to search recipe by recipe until you come to one that includes the ingredients at hand. Also, I found the redundant recipe for simple syrup peppered randomly throughout the book rather odd as well as his rating scale of “discreetly indicated…dots above each drink’s name” where 1 dot is “Disgusting” and 5 dots is “Outstanding/Exceptional.” I am confused as to why something Difford deemed as disgusting as the “Prairie Oyster #2” (only half of a dot) even made it into the book. And, finally, would these ratings differ if one deviated from the very discerning list of 14 brands, er, ingredients. Would a Presidente taste/rate better if one used, instead of Bacardi Superior, Appleton’s or Zaya?
In short, while I find this book mildly schizophrenic and exceedingly self-promotional, I feel that its target audience will have moderate to good success in creating the listed cocktails with the instructions and illustrations provided.
Cocktails Made Easy
By: Simon Difford
Firefly Books, 2010
List Price: $ 24.95
Amazon.com Price: $ 18.96
Reviewed By: June Rodil
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