Originally published in 1900, The Cocktail Book, is said to be the first book ever published that was solely dedicated to cocktails. Not as famous as the likes of The Savoy Cocktail Book, it is nonetheless a little gem, so it’s unsurprising the British Library has republished this American guide and interspersed it with illustrations from their vast collection. While the book is meant to be purely about cocktails there is also a section, a few pages long, on how to store and choose wine when you have guests. This feature was included as the book was designed for use in the home, not by bartenders behind their bars, unlike so many of the now classic cocktail books.
That good things come in small packages is certainly an appropriate idiom when talking about this book. At less than 100 pages, it keeps things clear and concise. No long lists of ingredients and instructions, each recipe is a couple of lines long instructing you what to add, when and how.
The book is worth having if for no other reason than for the variety of cocktails listed, old and forgotten though some of them may be. Absinthe based cocktails feature and would be well worth experimenting with, given the renewed popularity of absinthe. The oyster cocktail calls for 6 oysters per serving, while a number of the cocktails call for acid or acid phosphate, a neutral tasting acid (rather than citrus juice) that used to be common in cocktails but fell out of favour. If you want to try cocktails using acid head to Fortnum & Mason’s 45 Jermyn St where the bar tenders have a series of cocktails using it. Ask them about the acid and they will tell you all about it; if memory serves, they make it themselves.
The Cocktail Book is the perfect little tome for any cocktail nut. Recognisable and classic cocktails sit side by side with those lost to history but well worth bringing back, even just for curiosity sake.
The Cocktail Book
Publisher: British Library