Sunday, May 17, 2015

Good Drinks - Ambrose Heath

I've never cooked from any of the Ambrose Heath books I have (which is 4 now) but I do love reading him. Persephone books have published a couple (Good Food on the Aga, and The Country Life Cookery Book') and do have Faber & Faber have reissued this one (which they first published in 1939) and 'Good Food' (1932). 'Good Food' has the added bonus of charming chapter heading illustrations by Edward Bawden. 

The only thing I don't like about 'Good Drinks' is the 'I'm a long term fan' quote from Sophie Dahl on the front, and then only because I think, small as it is, it gets in the way of the original cover art - it could have gone on the back in inch high letters with my goodwill (as if that mattered). 

Heath's worth reading because he's informative about food generally, great for historic detail on cooking in the inter war years, and amusing with it. He is however short on details - recipes for cocktails (part 1: Hard Drinks) are confined to a list of components and ratios, nothing about temperature, glass shape, shaking or stirring, or any other helpful tips. It speaks of a different age of cocktail drinking, or perhaps more specifically it speaks of a comfortable middle class inter war lifestyle.

There are more things I find interesting in here than tempting (if anyone wants to experiment with a mahogany - equal parts gin and treacle, please report back...) and some things that Heath clearly found more interesting than tempting (a Kitty Highball: claret and ginger ale, which is as he comments Prohibition getting its own back - he puts it in 'Curious Drinks'). I think his opinion of the Texas Highball must have been even lower, this mix of bourbon and port served with a little ice gets a (!!!). A sentiment I concur with. 

There are things I will make though - Mexican hot chocolate, a mix of chocolate coffee and vanilla isn't ground breaking but sounds great. A Honeysuckle turns out to be a rum hot toddy, but with a much nicer name. Gluhwein, Glogg, Mulled Wine, Mulled ale, Wassail, and negus are all covered and take us back far further than the 1930's. The section on punches and cups is a delight, if I ever get a reliable source of mulberries I would very much like to make mulberry brandy as an alternative to sloe gin.

All together then it is potentially a practical book, though I expect I'll spend much more time reading it than drinking from it. Either way it's a great little book to have to hand. 


  1. I'm still thinking about gin and treacle. Ew. EW.

    1. Quite... But like looking at a big red button that says do not press I find myself tempted!

    2. I can't get that combination out of my mind! Treacle is great, as I prefer dark & rich flavors in just about everything - except liquor, where I stick to gin & vodka. So this is intriguing.

  2. I wonder if you might be able to buy frozen Mulberries on line, a friend of mine did so with Sloes last autumn. From the Bay of E, I believe.

  3. That's a brilliant suggestion, and one I'll try. I'm desperate to get hold of mulberries, so much so that I planted a tree a couple of years ago - sadly it died over the winter - frozen berries may be a much better plan.