It's December, and time for another books and booze series. I plan these quite carefully beforehand and then generally find myself ignoring the plan after different associations suggest themselves - in the plan 'The Savoy Cocktail Book' didn't actually feature. I thought I'd written a proper post about it before, but it doesn't come up when I search, and it would make a very good stocking filler or Christmas present.
I like this book so much that I have an e-version on my phone which I bought when the hardback was difficult to find at a reasonable price, and a physical copy from when it was re printed. We've had a lot of fun with it. It was first published in 1930 and has been around more or less ever since, this edition has 750 original recipes and a few which have been added along the way.
There are a lot of ingredients it's no longer easy to source, even more variations on the theme of gin and vermouth in fractionally different combinations, and some things which just don't sound very good. There are even more things in it which are excellent, and there's a lot to be said for gaining a thorough understanding of what a difference those fractionally different combinations of vermouth can make.
The best cocktails in this book tend to be the relatively simple ones - or at least they are the ones I prefer. There are two things about these, one is that you don't have to make a huge investment in lots of ingredients (or time, looking at 'The Big Book of Gin' the other day there's quite a bit of space devoted to making your own syrups - which calls for some effort and forward planning), the second is that you do have to make a reasonable investment in quality spirits and liqueurs. And that's not a bad thing.
The theme of my drinking year has been a new appreciation for vermouth's and bitters, largely because of this book and the questions that it's raised for me (vermouth comes in a rainbow of colours and goes from bone dry to sweet) when the only instruction is French or Italian.
Angostura bitters are the easiest to find, most supermarkets should stock them. They're useful to have around for cooking with as well as for drinks, will add interest to an otherwise lacklustre gin and tonic, and feature in a lot of classic cocktails - and some less well known ones like the Newton's Special.
This calls for a dash of Angostura bitters, 1/4 Cointreau, and 3/4 Brandy shaken well over ice and strained into a Cocktail glass. It has a decent orange hit, a touch of sweetness, and is beautifully balanced.