This is not your typical cocktail book by any means and yet you are sure to fall in love with it just a few pages in. Oskar Kinberg is Swedish and, after a stint in the Army, came to London with those best of intentions [like ultimately going to school] and fortunately for us became distracted by the London cocktail scene.
Now with his own bar and restaurant in London, Oskar rewards us with both 75 of his recipes and his philosophy. You will relish both.
The first recipe is for sugar syrup because many, although not all his recipes, begin with a sweet base. He does claim that he prefers savory over sweet, yet he acknowledges that sugar makes everything taste better. Everything.
Most cocktail books are organized around the spirits with chapters for whiskey, rum … Not here. There are 25 mini-chapters here for ingredients: cucumber, apple, berries, pine, pineapple, rhubarb, condensed milk, tea, olive, oil, sloeberries, pea shoots, … Yes, condensed milk and olive oil — though not in the same drink!
It’s a London book so, yes, nettles are one of the ingredients. Interspersed among the cocktail recipes are another 20+ recipes for larder items, ingredients to be employed in specific recipes: nettle cordial, jasmine syrup, green tea syrup, gin “washed” with olive oil, … Oh the ideas are diverse and often cutting edge, but they do seem irresistible.
With all those natural flavors and ingredients, do not be deceived. Here is Oskar’s approach in his own words: “A cocktail for me is never a healthy thing. It’s something luxurious and indulgent.”
His favorite cocktail the book is The Adam and Eve: rum, milk, sugar syrup and banana put into a blender. I suppose you can substitute some vanilla ice cream for the milk, but I’d check with Oskar first.
His cocktails are works of beauty. Here is his Pea and Tonic:
This is a beefed-up Gin and Tonic with fresh verbena leaves and pea shoots inserted into the cocktail, not just for appearance but also for flavor. Some of the verbena and shoots are first muddled in the shaker before gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and tonic water are added. Yes, even his Gin and Tonic has some simple syrup.
This cocktail book is one you can embrace and experiment with all year long. Never tried sorrel or shiso or tonka beans? Now you have every reason to play and to imbibe. Muddle and drink to your heart’s delight.
The Cocktail Cookbook was published in 2016 by Frances Lincoln Limited, part of Quarto Publishing.