“The Cocktail Lab”
The recipes in this book demonstrate the different styles that I have worked in: the simple, the difficult, and the stuff in between. The first five chapters naturally developed their own characters, and it wasn’t until I started to revisit old recipes that they began to evolve into quite distinct areas of interest. I found that the drinks shared a genealogy—an idea was born, then pushed, then pushed further, changing slightly and then being changed again. I would look at the ingredients of a cocktail one way and then this would open up a new line of thinking—a chain reaction—just like my initial involvement in the cocktail industry.
New cocktails are usually born from experimenting with flavor connections and listening to a gut instinct. The recipes in this book are often quite romantic in nature. Yes, they have historical references, but they go beyond that. Inspiration can come from many places, not always obviously related to cocktails, and they straddle diverse terrains—from perfume to films, from poetry to an image of a landscape. Others were inspired by well-loved regulars at my bars—characters worthy of a book in themselves! These stories imbue a hint of fantasy to otherwise quite technical products. I have to be very thankful for my distractions!
When I said earlier that cocktails occupy a nebulous place, so too does this book. It is not a classic cocktail book, nor is it a bar manual. There are recipes here for the home enthusiast but also for the technician. Some of the recipes are known or have solid references, but here my aim is to demonstrate there can be a new point of interest or perspective—what inspired them, how they came together, how they’ve changed, and why they work. Consider it a guide to liquid flavor…
— 40 ml (11/3 oz) gin
— 20 ml (2/3 oz) homemade rhubarb cordial (page 168)
— Grapefruit twist, to finish (page 221)
The natural progression of my interest in the Gimlet remained British in nature and continued to work in accordance with the seasons. I love rhubarb for its complex set of flavors that loans itself to a broad spectrum of cocktails, and in particular rhubarb and gin are a perfect match. The Rhubarb Gimlet is a cocktail with a neat circle of flavors; simple, pared down, and minimal, with a seasonal twist.
1. Combine the gin and cordial in a cocktail tin and stir over cubed ice.
2. Strain into a small, chilled coupette.
3. Finish with a grapefruit twist.
Excerpted from The Cocktail Lab by Tony Conigliaro. Copyright © 2013 by Tony Conigliaro. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.