I was walking the street this week in driving rain. And it was cold. I should finally admit that summer is over. Heck, fall is half over. Winter approaches.
Which means our drinking habits change. Summer is the time for pitchers of sangria and margaritas. Fast and fruity, many of us tend to make “easy” beverages in the summer. And it is only now, as the holidays approach, that we become serious in our home cocktail making.
Last year, cocktail maven Julie Reiner wrote The Craft Cocktail Party. If you want wonderful guidance for this holiday season, then there is no better book on the market. Craft is a cocktail gem. Julie has three cocktail establishments in Manhattan and Brooklyn and is a hands-on operator. She has over two decades of cocktail genius on display in this masterful book.
Oh, the book is divided into four sections for the four seasons. And, yes, Summer is the first season. Julie believes in cocktail quality and elegance year around. Now, I often judge a book by its first recipe. And here is Julie’s: the La Rosa is a totally unexpected combo of tequila and amaro with red wine and muddled strawberry. And, how about the second recipe in the book: the Maria Sin Sangre is a Bloody Mary made, not with tomato juice, but by muddling cherry tomatoes with basil and then using tequila and not vodka.
You know what? I don’t care if those are her summer recipes. Our Sunday brunch this weekend will have Suzi and me muddling away on those tomatoes and basil leaves.
What is a craft cocktail? Don’t worry. The recipes here do not require 15 ingredients and equipment from a chemistry lab. Julie defines craft cocktails as ones made with proper technique and quality ingredients. She is meticulous about the relative proportions of the different ingredients and offers you advice with a generic recipe for your own cocktail creations: 2 parts spirits, ¾ part citrus, ¾ part sweetener. Not 2:1:1 but 2: ¾:¾. That formula reflects the care, and the extensive experience, that Julie projects in Craft Cocktail Party.
There are two types of recipes in this book. Classics, of course, like the French 75. But then her inspired extensions of those classics with the famed Julie Twist: the Leftover Cosmopolitan using cranberry sauce — a beverage for Thanksgiving Day or that Friday is you insist on following the “Leftover” title. There is the Juniperotivo, pictured at the bottom of this post, with muddled mint leaves combined with sugar syrup, gin, lime juice and pomegranate molasses. It’s the perfect holiday delight. Just to keep you all happy, today’s recipe on the blog will be this Juniperotivo!
The book brims with her seasonal recipes for beverages, cocktail making advice, and side recipes for components to incorporate into your beverage: Berry Syrup, Ginger Syrup, and even Lemongrass Syrup.
Julie is a bright, lovely woman recognized for her dazzling expertise and creative power. All that is on display in The Craft Cocktail Party. Even if your upcoming “party” is just you and your spouse on a Saturday night, you want to open the pages here, experiment, sip, and surely relish craftsmanship at its best. Your own, homemade craftsmanship!