Read an Excerpt
How to Use This Book
SPECIAL DRINK-RELATED SECTIONS ARE INCLUDED to give your pitcher drinks pizzazz: Bar Banter: Ingredients and Terms; Pitcher-Drink "Stuff": Equipment-Gadgets, Gizmos, and Glassware; Doin' the Twist: Garnishes and Other Fandangos; Measuring Up: Measurement Equivalents; When the Spirits Move You: How to Light Up the Party Without Getting Lit; and Tipsy Turvy: Hangover Helpers. There's also a chapter on party food for people who don't like to cook-Effortless Eats.
CROSS REFERENCES are indicated by small capitals, pointing to the definitions in Bar Banter.
DIRECTORY OF DRINKS BY CATEGORY gives you at-a-glance access to recipes by style and potency. The headings are: Classic Cocktails and Drinks, Popular Favorites, Tropical Tempters, Sparkling Sippers, Dessert in a Glass, Potent Concoctions (High Alcohol), In the Mood (Moderate Alcohol), Easy Does It (Low to Moderate Alcohol), and Buzz-Free Zone (Liquor-Free).
DRINK RECIPES are arranged in a user-friendly A-to-Z format. Referring to either the Directory of Drinks by Category or the Index will lead you to just the drink you want. But if you know what you want-such as a Martini-you can find it easily alphabetically.
RECIPE INGREDIENTS are listed first for home use (tablespoons, cups), then in fluid ounces for bartenders looking for pitcher panache.
ICE CUBES are standard size, not miniature.
WATER IS ADDED in those recipes where single-drink preparations are classically shaken with ice, which melts slightly and contributes water to the drink.
THE INDEX is particularly extensive, listing recipes by the name of the drink, as well as by the drink's primary ingredients.
Th-th-that's all, folks. Now go party hearty with these fun party drinks!
A grasshopper hops into a bar and the bartender says,
"Hey, there's a drink named after you."
The grasshopper exclaims in surprise,
"You gotta be kiddin'-there's a drink named Ralph?"
Ingredients and Terms
FOLLOWING IS AN A-TO-Z LISTING OF INGREDIENTS and terms used in this book. Cross-references to terms defined in this section are indicated by small capitals. Pronunciations are given for all but the obvious. For a more extensive listing of all things boozy, see The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide, Broadway Books (a Random House imprint).
ABSENTE [AB-sent] Called "Absinthe refined" by the producer, Absente is the most recent proxy for the forbidden absinthe. Instead of the toxic wormwood, Absente contains southernwood (petite absinthe), which is said to contribute the more authentic flavor of the original. Absente's primary flavor hit is anise, but there are myriad herbs that contribute to its multifaceted palate. The clear, pale-green color of this liqueur turns opaque when mixed with water. Absente is a powerful 55 percent alcohol, which is still considerably less than the 68 percent absinthe. Substitutes for Absente include pernod, ouzo, and anisette.
ABSINTHE [AB-sinth] A green, anise-flavored liqueur that was banned in the United States and other countries in the early twentieth century because it contains wormwood, which is toxic when taken in quantity. If that weren't enough, this French potable is a potent 68 percent alcohol. It was the wormwood-high octane fusion that prompted many in the nineteenth-century Parisian artistic community (such as Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Oscar Wilde) to nickname it the "green muse." Among the many absinthe substitutes are absente, anisette, ouzo, and pernod.
ALCOHOL Although used generally to specifically describe any alcoholic liquor, alcohol is a distillation of the fermented (see fermentation) essence of grains, fruits, or vegetables. The result is a clear, intoxicating liquid. See also liquor.
ALIZÉ [ah-lee-ZAY] A French liqueur based on Cognac and passion fruit juice. There are three variations of Alizé, all of which are a relatively low 16 percent alcohol. The original blend, Alizé Gold Passion, is yellow in color and has a refreshing passion fruit flavor with hints of apricots, citrus, and peaches. Alizé Red Passion has the addition of cranberry and other juices, which contribute a red color and tangy flavor. Alizé Wild Passion has a tropical sunset hue and a flavor combination of passion fruit juices, mango, and pink grapefruit. The word alizé means "a gentle trade wind."
AMARETTO [am-ah-REHT-toh] An amber-colored, almond-flavored liqueur, typically flavored with apricot-pit kernels. Originally from Italy, amaretto's now also produced in the United States and other countries. Depending on the producer, this liqueur can range in alcohol from about 21 to 28 percent.
APÉRITIF [ah-perhr-ih-TEEF] A drink (typically light in alcohol) consumed before a meal. Apéritifs can be a single potable, such as champagne or lillet, or a mixed drink.
APPLE BRANDY A generic term for any brandy made from apple cider. Most apple brandies aren't sweet, like a liqueur, but are distilled (see distillation) dry at 40 percent alcohol. In the United States, such spirits are called applejack. Apple brandy has a very subtle apple flavor. The world's most renowned example is calvados.
APRICOT BRANDY A distillate made from apricots or pure apricot juice with a typical alcohol range of between 20 and 24 percent. Apricot brandy has a fruity aroma and flavor but is dry, unlike a sweet apricot-flavored liqueur. Peach brandy may be substituted. See also brandy.
BANANA-FLAVORED LIQUEUR see crème de banana
BITTERS A bitter to bittersweet distillation of a complex blend of aromatic plants (herbs, barks, flowers, seeds, roots). Some bitters taste distinctively of their base ingredient (such as apricot, orange, or peach), and are named accordingly. Among the more popular bitters are Angostura (named for its angostura-bark base) and Peychaud's (named for its inventor). Because the flavor of bitters is so intense, a little goes a long way.
BLEND n. An alcoholic beverage created from two or more distillates. For example, blended whiskey is a combination of two or more 100-proof straight whiskeys blended with neutral spirits.
BOURBON An American corn-based whiskey made with a mash-grain that's ground or crushed before being steeped in hot water and fermented (see fermentation). Its name comes from the fact that it originated in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Straight bourbon is made from a mash that contains between 51 and 79 percent corn. Corn whiskey is made from a mash that contains over 80 percent corn. Single-barrel bourbon means just that-it comes from a single barrel. The term small-batch bourbon describes a high-quality blend of bourbons from selected barrels and of different maturity levels, and doesn't necessarily mean that a small amount was produced. The alcohol content of bourbon can range from 40 to 50 percent.
BRANDY In the most basic terms, brandy is a liquor distilled (see distillation) from wine (grapes) or other fermented fruit juice. Some of the finest brandies (Cognac and Armagnac) hail from southwestern France. Other fruits popular for making brandy include apples (calvados) and plums (slivovitz). Although some brandies are aged in oak (such as Armagnac, Calvados, and Cognac), most are not. The majority of brandies are 40 percent alcohol. See also apple brandy; apricot brandy.
BRUT see champagne
CACHAÇA [kah-SHAH-sah] The national spirit of Brazil, cachaça is a 40 percent alcohol distillate made from unrefined sugarcane. Its flavor is often described as a cross between tequila and rum, with a slightly smoky character. Cachaça is indispensable in Brazil's most popular drink, the Caipirinha. Although Brazil produces myriad brands of cachaça, those most readily available in the United States are Pitù, Cachaça 51, Ypióca, Velho Barreiro, and Toucano Gold (a cachaça "rum" that's been aged two years in oak casks).
CALVADOS [KAL-vah-dohs] Considered one of the world's greatest brandies, Calvados comes from the Normandy region in France. This brandy is made from apple cider, which gives it a perfumy apple scent. Its rich flavor and body come from aging in Limousin oak for two to five years or more. Calvados is 40 percent alcohol.
CANE SYRUP An extremely thick, sweet syrup made from the juice extracted from sugarcane. Cane syrup has a characteristic sugarcane aroma and flavor. It ranges in color from dark gold to dark brown and can be found in natural food stores, Caribbean and Creole markets, and some supermarkets.
CANTON DELICATE GINGER LIQUEUR A ginger-flavored liqueur made in southern China by Charles Jacquin
et Cie. It's comprised of six different kinds of ginger, herbs, ginseng, and brandy. This ginger liqueur is 16.5 percent alcohol, isn't overly sweet, and has a subtle ginger flavor that doesn't bite.
CAVA [KAH-vah] A sparkling wine produced in the Catalan region in northeastern Spain. The word cava is Catalan for "cellar." The best cavas are those made with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes. Most have an alcohol level of 12 percent.
CHAMBORD [sham-BORD] A black-raspberry-flavored, garnet-colored liqueur made in France by the American-French company Charles Jacquin et Cie. There's really no flavor substitute for the intensely flavored Chambord, which is a relatively low 16.5 percent alcohol.
CHAMPAGNE [sham-PAYN] Although most of us have fallen into the habit of calling any sparkling wine "champagne," true Champagne comes only from France's Champagne region, northeast of Paris. Most countries acknowledge French tradition by calling their sparklers by other names: Sekt in Germany, spumante in Italy, cava in Spain, and simply "sparkling wine" in the United States (although some producers are stepping on convention and labeling their sparklers "champagne"). Look for a sparkling wine with "méthode champenoise" on the label, which indicates that the wine has undergone a second fermentation in the bottle, a traditional French method that produces superior sparkling wines. Vintage champagnes are produced from the best grapes and must be aged three years before being released. Nonvintage champagnes (the majority of those available) are blends of wine from two or more years. Blanc de blancs sparklers are made entirely from Chardonnay grapes and have a pale-blond color. Blanc de noirs describes wines made with Pinot Noir grapes (sometimes Meunier), which confer a pale apricot to pink hue. The label will tell you the sparkler's sweetness level: extra-brut is bone-dry, under 0.6 percent sugar (you won't find many of these on the shelves); brut is very dry (less than 1.5 percent sugar) and is what's most commonly available; extra-sec or extra-dry is slightly sweeter; sec is medium-sweet; demi-sec is sweet; and doux is very sweet. Most drink recipes call for brut or extra-dry. Champagnes typically have an alcohol content of 12 percent.
CLUB SODA Water that's been injected with carbon dioxide, which makes it bubbly. Club soda gets its slightly salty-citric flavor from small amounts of added sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate. For those who don't like that flavor (like me), seltzer water makes a much cleaner-tasting mixer. Club soda is also called soda water. See also tonic water; water.
COCONUT MILK An unsweetened, milky liquid made by processing water with coconut meat. It's sold in regular and low-fat versions. Although once only available in Asian markets, coconut milk can now be found in many supermarkets, generally in the "ethnic" section. Some Asian markets also carry a thicker, more concentrated coconut cream, which is unsweetened and not to be confused with the exceedingly sweet cream of coconut.
COCONUT RUM see malibu coconut rum
COINTREAU [KWAHN-troh] Considered by many to be the world's most distinguished orange liqueur, Cointreau is colorless, crystal-clear, and has an exotic, mildly bitter orange flavor. It's flavored with the peel from two types of orange-sour oranges from the Caribbean island of Curaçao and sweet oranges from Spain. Cointreau's alcohol content is 40 percent. See also curaçao; triple sec.
CORDIAL see liqueur
CREAM There are two types of cream used in the recipes in this book-heavy cream and half-and-half. Heavy (or whipping) cream is about 40 percent milk fat and gives drinks a smooth, silky texture and body. Half-and-half is a mixture of half milk and half cream. It has only about 12 percent milk fat and adds a lightly creamy texture and flavor.
CREAM OF COCONUT A thick, extremely sweet blend of coconut paste, water, and sugar. Cream of coconut is available in supermarkets and liquor stores. See also coconut milk.
CRÈME DE BANANA; CRÈME DE BANANE [krehm deuh bah-NA-nuh (-NAHN)] A clear, bright yellow liqueur (24 percent alcohol) with an intensely sweet, banana flavor.
CRÈME DE CACAO [krehm deuh kah-KAH-oh] A chocolate-flavored liqueur with a clear, dark brown color. White crème de cacao is clear and colorless but tastes the same. Crème de cacao is 24 percent alcohol.
CUARENTA Y TRES [kwah-RAYN-tah ee TRAYSS]
CURAÇAO [KYOOR-uh-soh] A generic term for orange-flavored liqueurs flavored with the dried peel of bitter oranges native to Curaçao, an island in the southern Caribbean. Most curaçaos are amber in color, some are tinted blue, and a few are colorless. Curaçaos can range in alcohol from 23 to 40 percent. See also cointreau; triple sec.
DISTILLATE; DISTILLATION n. Any alcoholic beverage that has undergone distillation, such as brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey.
DISTILLATION The process of purifying and/or concentrating a liquid through several steps of evaporation and subsequent collection of the condensation.
DRY A term used in the world of wine and spirits to describe a potable that isn't sweet. For sparkling wine sweetness designations, see champagne. See also sec.
FERMENTATION A process in which the enzymes from yeast convert natural sugars in grain, fruit, and vegetables into alcohol. For example, yeast converts the sugars in grape juice for wine, those in sugarcane molasses for rum, and the starch in grains (subsequently converted into sugar by diastase enzymes) for whiskey.
FLOAT n. A small amount of liquid (such as 151-proof rum) that floats atop another liquid without being mixed in. float v. To slowly and steadily pour a liquid over the back of a spoon onto the surface of another liquid. The spoon is used to break the "fall" of the topping liquid, distributing it evenly onto the liquid below so that it floats rather than immediately blending in.
FRUIT JUICES; FRUIT NECTARS There are loads of fruit juices on supermarket shelves and in the freezer section, and most of them are fine. The one exception is bottled lemon and lime juice, which in no way compares to the flavor of fresh. So, come on, guys, don't be lazy. Get out that juicer and go to it. Your drinks will thank you for it-so will your guests. Fresh orange juice is also preferable, providing it's flavorful. Bottom line: Sometimes orange juice made from frozen concentrate simply has more taste. See also Squeeze Play; Lemon Logic.
GALLIANO; LIQUORE GALLIANO [gal-LYAH-noh] A brilliant yellow Italian liqueur (40 percent alcohol) flavored with spices, herbs, and flowers. This sweet, syrupy elixir has a spicy-herbal flavor reminiscent of licorice.
From the Trade Paperback edition.