This classic cocktail book is a must for any concoction creators bookshelf…
15 years ago, author and cocktail enthusiast Adrienne Stillman sat in New York City’s famed Milk & Honey bar and sipped on her first Gold Rush cocktail. It was a honeyed whiskey sour variation, created and launched at that particular bar. And, by the final drop, she was hooked – not just to Gold Rush, but to the idea of finding more amazing cocktails like this in her life.
A decade and a half later, Adrienne transmitted her bubbling passion and knowledge into Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World, the newest title in Phaidon’s International Culinary Bible series and first to be devoted exclusively to drink making.
“Honestly, I was trying to squeeze in additional recipes right up until we went to press,” Adrienne says. “There are so many great cocktails out there!
“One of the last ones I was able to get in that I’m really pleased about is the Japanese Fresh Fruit cocktail, which is made with a few pieces of perfectly ripe fruit – like a mandarin orange, but you can use anything that’s in season – and shōchū, a low-alcohol Japanese spirit made from rice, barley or sweet potatoes, topped with sparkling wine.
“It’s so unique and infinitely versatile.”
In the years between that momentous night at Milk & Honey and finalising the edits in her vast cocktail collection, Adrienne travelled to the quirkiest bars around the world. Not surprisingly, a quaint bar in Melbourne made her top three!
“It’s called The Everleigh,” she says. “The hospitality and drinks are top-notch, and it has a magical feel to it – like you’ve walked back in time.”
“Another top destination is Attaboy in New York City. One of the reasons I got my first apartment was that it was located right around the corner so I could go there every night.
“And, at the top of my hit-list is Gen Yamamoto in Tokyo, the original home of the Japanese Fresh Fruit cocktail I described earlier. It’s a tiny bar with eight seats where he serves up truly innovative cocktail flights.”
Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World is a comprehensive concoction that is overflowing with 610 cocktail recipes from six continents and 60 countries, spanning from the past 500 years. Whether it’s classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned or Long Island Iced Tea, a traditional Wassail from the Middle Ages, or even something truly modern like the Earl Grey MarTEAni, you are sure to find it in this textbook-sized collection. Or at least a variation of it.
According to Adrienne, there are two things that stand out for her in her book:
“The first is that the book is truly designed to facilitate discovery,” Adrienne says. “The recipes are grouped by style: Refreshing, Sours, Spirit Forward, Tiki & Tropical, Coffee & Dessert and Punch.
“So if you know you’re in the mood for something citrusy with rum, turn to the Sours chapter and look for the Daiquiri section. There are 30 different variations for you to choose from.
“The second is the essays. Sprinkled throughout the recipes are short essays on topics like Why Ice Matters, Home Bartending Hacks and Entertaining with Cocktails which all provide helpful tips on how to make the best possible drinks at home, without a lot of fuss or fancy equipment.”
In short, Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World is expertly designed, bringing easy-to-follow recipes with an authoritative voice that perfectly distils the cocktail’s distinctive essence for any reader. In fact, while the cocktails are numerous, most of them don’t require bartending skills, equipment or glassware to get them right. All you really need is a shaker and a shot glass.
But perhaps the most important part of the book is how historical it is when charting cocktail origins. We were most surprised to learn that the Japanese Slipper heralds from a bar in Melbourne, while the Lemon, Lime and Bitters is a uniquely Australian mix, most notable as a post-golf tipple.
Australia aside, the Spirited book is a sophisticated collection that travels the world – from New York to Moscow, the United Kingdom to Mexico – your tastebuds will be allowed to travel overseas from the comfort of your kitchen.
In fact, we’d even go so far as to call it a cocktail bible, but Adrienne is a little hesitant:
“Maybe it’s my Catholic school education, but whenever I hear ‘cocktail bible’ I start to worry I’m going to be turned into a pillar of salt. Insofar as ‘bible’ means comprehensive or definitive, then yes, that is certainly the goal of Spirited.”
Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World by Adrienne Stillman is available nationwide across Australian bookshops or online via Booktopia where it can be delivered straight to your door – less time stressing and more time cocktail making.
Still feeling spiritual? Check out our 10 Australian Botanical-infused alcohols to try this spring! And if you’re looking for ways to feel and look healthier, we’ve got 5 easy superfood drink recipes that you can make at home!