Review: The Cocktail Collective

The past year or so seems to have been critical for the careers of several writers with whom I’m acquainted; in addition to my own success, a number of them have published books as well. So to promote their work, I’m inaugurating a new feature I call Reviews of Books by People I Kinda Sorta Know.

The Cocktail Collective
Jacob Grier, editor
SK2R Publishing (100 pp, $10.94, 2010)

When I purchased this recipe collection, edited by top-shelf bartender and Portland, Oregon resident Jacob Grier, with its odd blue martini on the cover (with, what is that, black salt? some kind of caviar? or is it just the salt-rimmed glass of a red drink with the image colors inverted?), I was expecting a chichi handbook directed at Left Coast foodie hipsters: “As you swirl the Julia Butterfly Hill over your lip piercings, savor the subtle notes of Dennis Kucinich and eco-terrorism.”

Instead, The Cocktail Collective is an extremely serviceable collection of traditional drinks — Tom Collins, Manhattans, White Russians — along with whole new inventions. Or, if not original, at least beverages you won’t find in Mr. Boston: I was impressed that the Vesper, the drink concocted by James Bond in Casino Royale, is included.

The spiral-bound book lays flat on the countertop and is divided by main ingredients: brandy, gin, rum, etc. Further the recipes use a color-coded symbol system for the glassware, so at a glance you know which of the six glasses you should use to serve the cocktail. And while some of the species of syrups and liqueurs and bitters are a little esoteric for the average home bar, the utility of el boracho’s greatest hits between two covers — tiki drinks like the Fog Cutter and Mai Tai on pages 40-41; Bloody Mary on page 54 and Whiskey Sour on page 74 — outweighs any pretentiousness. Jacob also includes brief chapters on stocking and equipping your home bar and instructions for making basic ingredients like simple syrup and honey syrup.

The book actually retails at $6.95 but since seems to be the only place to purchase it — and you can’t use Super Saver Shipping — I had to pay $3.99 shipping on top. Yet even at $10.94, the price is peanuts for what I received. A few Christmases ago, I gave my brother-in-law a starter kit for the bar of his new house. If I was to repeat that this year, The Cocktail Collective would be the very first item in the box.