Welcome back in 2016, everyone!
Here at HH HQ, we thought of trying something new this year. With the popularisation of cocktails at the bar, and the introduction of home bar-kit companies like the Taste cocktail kits, this festive season meant cocktails were all the rage at home.
There is a cocktail for every moment, every possible scenario, for every possible palate and texture – learning how to make cocktails at home is the next step in not just hosting dinners and parties – but simply finding a way to add a pep in your step during the day. This customisability and versatility is what Ryan C., aka., Mr. Lyan, is going for in his latest release: Good Things To Drink.
Straddling that most desirable of places between cookbook and coffee-table book, GTtD has cocktails for every occasion: the Morning Buzz, to summer pitchers, fireside sips to autumnal walks in the countryside. And for you gin fans – a whole section on G&T twists!
The award winning bartender sets off first with a 30 page intro to your cocktail making journey: a quick run down of staples, ingredients, equipment, techniques – even down to ice, garnishes, and how to prepare syrups. It’s an excellent intro, but is certainly one for those who already know their way around a cocktail swizzler. Not saying that practice and devotion from a novice won’t do the job either – but my first instinct is that someone handling a shaker and homemade syrups for the first time might needs a more in depth education on the matter.
From there on we find a spectacular array of photoshoots by Kim Lightbody, each paired with a recipe (less classics, more developments on them), with flavour profile, recommended glassware, method, and possible flair for just little something to top it all of.
I enjoy that more obscure ingredients often have recommended swaps and optional ingredients highlighted, making the cocktails more accessible. Not to mention listing ingredients in both metric and imperial because god help those of us to Google a recipe and get fluid ounces.
In other words – wonderfully comprehensive! Yes, some cocktails take more time, prep and effort than others – but sometimes you really do want to go all out (like his cooking, the Hoodooist cares more if the recipe is a challenge rather than a spaghetti dinner). Not to mention, if they’re interesting.
One of these that the Hoodooist is most looking forward to trying is the now-famous Deadly Nightshade.
Besides being one of the Hoodooist’s favourite vegetables ever, the Deadly Nightshade is a gorgeous amber rum sour using, yes, aubergines (/eggplants. Yes, the book even specifies that for the trans-Atlantic divide!).
240g/9.60z demerara sugar
Pinch sea salt
40ml/1.5oz golden rum
20ml/0.8oz Lillet Blanc vermouth
25ml/1oz lemon juice
1 tablespoon demerara sugar syrup or honeywater (instructions to make present in book!)
25ml/10z egg white.
With a wonderfully detailed description on preparing the aubergine puree to shake with the spirits, garnished with roasted aubergine chips – preparing a seemingly advanced cocktail is deceptively easy!
All in all?
Good Things to Drink with Mr. Lyan & Friends is certainly a wonderful book to have, it’s difficult to find fault with it (especially for the Hoodooist, who fusses when recipes lack detail). But everything you need is *actually* here!
This is an excellent book for anyone venturing into more adventurous home-made cocktails. I would however, say that if you are completely new to making cocktails, and need instructions on what goes in a Manhattan, you might want to start with some books addressing basics and classics in more detail than the intro of GTtD, detailed though it is.
Best of luck, home bartenders! This solid text will walk you through expertly.
Good Things to Drink with Mr. Lyan & Friends, by Ryan Chetiyawardana is selling at £16.59 on Amazon.co.uk.