It's the season for likely stocking fillers to start appearing at work, and as I'm a sucker for a vintage cocktail book I fell for this one straight away. It's a slim little thing with board covers that double its width but it promises 200 excellent recipes, takes up less space, and will travel more easily than my beloved Savoy Cocktail book, and had some promising looking things in it so here we are.
The thing I want most from a cocktail book is simplicity. I know I'm getting Alice Lascelles 'The Cocktail Edit' for Christmas so I'm having to be patient about really exploring that one - but for a contemporary cocktail book it's absolutely the one to go for this year.
My home doesn't have the range of ingredients or equipment that a good cocktail bar would have on hand. I'm relying on good quality booze that I will use whilst it's fresh (vermouth, which I love, will lose its flavour the longer a bottle is open). I want 17 (or more) different takes on the same basic principle to keep it interesting, not 17 different bottles all with a single measure taken out of them getting sticky and gathering dust in my kitchen. Vintage books are excellent for having a lot of variations on the theme of french vermouth, Italian, and gin. Some will use brandy/whisky/rum etc, but you get the idea. All are brief on instructions (you shake or stir and that's about it).
Most of the recipes in here are definitely in the Savoy book, but there are a couple specific to famous Hollywood restaurants of the 1930s which are definitely appealing, and even when you discount the harder-to-find ingredients (Swedish punch for example) there's a lot here that only calls for things you'll find in any reasonably large supermarket. Aim for good, but not necessarily premium quality, bottles - I wouldn't use anything I wouldn't drink on its own, but I'm not putting the super glamorous £50 bottle of gin I was given in cocktails either.
Altogether a decent little book for some vintage inspiration, a nice add-on present with a decent bottle of vermouth or similar, good if you're staying with grown-up family that likes a drink, or want to party like it's 1933.