Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry – A Book Review
Sweet is out. Savory is in, and Greg Henry, author of the popular blog Sippity Sup-Serious Fun Food knows savory. Following the success of his first book Savory Pies, he now brings us Savory Cocktails. OK. I can hear you from here. “Oh, of course you’d like this one, Adri. It’s about liquor.” I’ll admit I enjoy a nice tipple as much as, maybe even more than, the next woman. But this volume is a different kind of cocktail compendium. With easygoing style, the author sets you on the road to mastering both contemporary and classic cocktails.
Greg’s sophisticated palate and nonpareil mixing skills take the mystery, but not the romance, out of the art of the barman. Forget the pink drinks with little umbrellas. You know the ones I mean – the ones that sneak up on you, destroying your palate and rendering the evening but a hazy memory. This book contains over 100 savory creations that will whet your appetite and set the mood for an enjoyable evening. If you are new to the art of the cocktail, you will find everything you need to get started, including a list of barware, tools and instruction on basic technique.
Greg makes the point “I don’t care how savory a cocktail is, most well-made drinks require a sweet element for real balance.” To help you along with the sweet component are recipes for classic simple syrup and flavored variations. Are you new to cocktail’s classic ingredient bitters? Have no fear. They’ll feel like an old friend by the time you read Greg’s lesson. Ditto for the current cocktail trend shrubs; these drinking vinegars, popular once again, will quickly become part of your repertoire. Infusions are here too. From citrus to whole spice, with his straightforward directions you will be able to make your own.
The cocktail recipes are divided into 8 categories, sour, spicy, herbal, umami, bitter, smoky, rich, and strong. It’s such a natural, organic way of categorizing the cocktails, and makes the process of finding a drink simple.
I started at the beginning with the Papa Hemingway Daiquiri. It was, it turns out, a very good place to start. The drink is a bright, fresh mix of clear rum, grapefruit and lime juices, and maraschino, garnished with “a masculine hunk of lime.” The libation has its origins in Cuba, and was perfect for our current tropical Southern California weather.
Among the classics I was glad to see my favorite, the Hanky Panky, an alluring mix of gin, Italian vermouth and Fernet Branca. You’ll also find the Gibson, the Vesper and enough versions of the Martini to keep you busy behind the bar every night of the week. There are new cocktail creations too. With fanciful names like Warm Cardigan and This Feeling of Joy, you’ll be intrigued enough to give them a go and very glad you did. The Widow’s Kiss, Dead Glamour, The Long Goodbye and The Fatal Hour conjure up a Chandleresque era of dark wood-paneled bars and curls of cigarette smoke. Old, new, and classics revisited, they are all here.
The author’s elegance and mastery of the art of the cocktail are on display throughout the book, and the photographs are his own. With his trademark masculine style he presents the cocktails at their tempting, mood setting best while showcasing some of the most beautiful barware I have ever seen.
I was also pleased to see a discussion of the use of raw eggs vis a vis salmonella and that the author put forth the use of pasteurized eggs as an alternative to raw. This volume has now joined the list of “must haves” for the home bar. Whether you are new to cocktails or a seasoned habitué, Savory Cocktails will set you on the road to imbibing in a style to which you will be delighted to become accustomed.
Greg Henry is a cookbook author and also writes the food blog Sippity Sup-Serious Fun Food. He’s led cooking demonstrations in Panama & Costa Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway and Alaska to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or at Homefries Podcast Network and was named one of The LA Weekly’s 5 favorite podcasts for food lovers.
Savory Cocktails: Sour Spicy Herbal Umami Bitter Smoky Rich Strong
by Greg Henry
Paperback: 144 pages
Ulysses Press (September 10, 2013)
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I otherwise have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.