I finally picked up Dave Wondrich’s excellent new book Killer Cocktails: An Intoxicating Guide to Sophisticated Drinking. It begins with mixological rudiments (types of liquor, equipment, etc.) which you can skip if you’re no longer a beginner and get into the meat of the matter — the cocktails. There are a lot of drinks in there you won’t find anywhere else, and I can’t wait to get to exploring them. Dave’s writing and cocktail discoveries, both new and forgotten, are as top-notch as always, although there are differences of opinion at our Eagle Rock aerie. I enjoyed The Four Commandments of the Martini, but we do shake Martinis at our house; Wes likes ‘em that way, finding them actually colder than when stirred, which is what I prefer — that silky texture and no frakking ice chips. (Dave, if you ever come over, I’ll certainly stir, and I must confess that my own Martini epiphany was a stirred one made by Dale DeGroff.) As much as I’m enjoying it, though, I do have one wee problem with the book.
It’s got a spiral-bound, stand-up design which allows it to stand on the counter like an easel as you mix. Good idea, but someone at the publisher decided that instead of making the book such that you flip consecutive pages as the book faces you, then flip the whole thing over to continue on the other half of the book (i.e., the consecutively numbered pages are on each facing leaf), the pages are printed back-to-back; i.e., you have to flip the whole goddamn thing around after every page if you’re reading it continuously. I found that design unwieldy,and it makes me want to just tear all the pages out and staple them together so I can turn pages without having to flip the entire book around. The contents are worth the annoyance, though.
I was thrilled that Dave came up with a near-forgotten New Orleans cocktail I had never heard of. He says it comes from “The Bon Ton Bar” on Magazine Street in the 1930s; I wonder if that’s the still-extant Bon Ton Café on Magazine, home of some of the best crawfish étouffée and bread pudding in the city. In any case, apparently the bar/restaurant is still there (which leads me to think it’s the same place I’m thinking about) and is the only place in the world that serves this drink.
The Rum Ramsey
1-1/2 ounces Cuban-style white rum.
1 teaspoon Bourbon.
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar or simple syrup.
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice.
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters.
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Optional lime wedge or twist garnish.
It was … interesting. I think it’ll be a lot better with a better rum than Bacardi (which was all I had on hand at the time); I’m trying it with Cruzan white rum next time. The single teaspoon of Bourbon gives it a really interesting character, and it certainly merits further experimentation. Thanks, Dave!