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December 03, 2013

DIY Cocktails

Nancy Matsumoto

Inspired by both the cocktail and the DIY booms, this book does what Michael Ruhlman’s “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking” did for food — it liberates readers from specific recipes and gives them the tools to experiment knowledgeably without having to endure wildly off-target failures.

Simmons and Halpren studied classic and custom cocktails and reduced them to fundamental ratios that you can memorize or refer back to when improvising with the spirits and ingredients that you happen to have on hand. They’ve broken down cocktail ingredients into four categories: strong, sweet, sour and weak, the latter including club soda, tonic water, and even the crucial ingredient in some cocktails, ice melt.

The authors cover the basic tools, terminology and techniques from muddling to rinsing, or coating the glass with a spirit then dumping it to impart a hint of that flavor to your cocktail. “DIY Cocktails” is divided into sections by different ratios of ingredients, featuring recipes for well-known “flagship” cocktails in each ratio, as well as suggestions on how to improvise with home-infused spirits and your own bitters and syrup concoctions.

After reading this book, you’ll be able to create signature cocktails in your own preferred ratios. The downside? The risk of turning into that new class of party bore: the geeky cocktail know-it-all.