Shaken or Stirred? Cocktails, The Old-Fashioned Way


With various recipes like the Brandy Alexander, Cape Codder (vodka-based), Manhattan, Hemingway Daiquiri, Tuxedo Martini, Margarita and a rum-based Zombie (often what one feels like after drinking all the rest), I honestly can’t think why ‘Vintage Cocktails’ by Michelin three-star mixologist Brian Van Flandern appeared in my postbox recently.

I can only imagine the PR’s are plugging it again in time for those Christmas wishlists – it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that I’m always posting images of myself in various watering holes with cocktails on Twitter. Yes, that’s probably why the book appeared in my postbox recently.

Image @ Assouline, 2012

Named the ‘best cocktail book in the world’ by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2010, it features lots of pretty pictures of drinkies taken by Laziz Hamani at New York’s renowned Carlyle Hotel, all of which will make you want to hit your nearest supermarket for a ‘Make Your Own Cocktails’ kit (followed by the booze aisle). It also features a straight-forward description of how to make whatever tipple you fancy – from a Blue Hawaiian to an Old Cuban, all the classics are there, exploring ‘the lost art of mixing the perfect drink with elegance and simplicity‘, or so the book says. I’m not sure elegance still applies after you’ve poured and sampled quite a few for your party guests, or when you lose the will (and your eyesight) to read the recipe late into the evening and end up just concocting your own version of a Brandy Crusta. I didn’t make that name up either, it’s an actual drink. And I tried to make it. But don’t ask me to recall what it tasted like.

As Brian tells us, ‘with just a few ingredients and the right pour, this is the first and only book every host should stock in his or her bar.’ Bar meaning kitchen work surface, obviously.

So if you’re planning on being the hostess with the mostess this party season, then do it with panache, style and not a single cocktail umbrella in sight (totally a no-no for sophisticated sippers). And make sure you rim your glasses properly, because there’s nothing worse than a poorly salted rim. Darlings.

You can buy Vintage Cocktails, published by Assouline, HERE.


1 Comment

  1. sam j westshaw on

    I can confirm that there is nothing elegant about Miss Lawson past 8pm on an evening where cocktails are concerned. Needless to say, we all still love her. Kate’s biggest fan x

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