Cocktail vs. cocktail

For years, I’ve been a devotee of the sadly-out-of-print book Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century (Paul Harrington and Laura Moorhead). I learned about the book from a friend, and managed to find my own copy at a used book store (and pay far too much money for it). It’s served me well, and while I wouldn’t say I’ve tried all 275 drink classics described therein … well, to admit how many I have tried might reveal more about my drinking habits than I’d care to confess.

Recently, however, The Drinks Bible has been shoved rudely from its pedestal by a new cocktail cookbook, Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks, which I received as a Christmas present from the thoughtful parents of my teetotalling boyfriend. Each book contains cocktail recipes that the other has left out. However, they both provide recipes for the essential classics (the Martini, the Manhattan, the Mojito, and many drinks that do not begin with the letter M). For the most part, I’ve found that I prefer DeGroff’s version of a cocktail to Harrington’s. Harrington’s recipes are sometimes so sour as to be almost undrinkable. I occasionally do find DeGroff’s just a little too sweet, but overall, the flavor profiles of the drinks are more interesting. And it’s a better cocktail cookbook for right now; Harrington’s is a bit out of date in terms of what ingredients you’ll actually be able to find at even the best-stocked liquor store, these days; DeGroff’s is more mindful of this issue, and also includes newer products (like the ginger liqueur Domaine de Canton) that may not have been available when Harrington’s book came out.

Be that as it may, I just got around to trying DeGroff’s recipe for one of my favorite cocktails, the Aviation. And I found that I like the Drinks Bible version much better.

The recipe DeGroff provides calls for 2 oz gin, 3/4 oz maraschino liqueur and 1/2 oz lemon juice. Harrington’s recipe is 1 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz maraschino and 3/4 oz lemon juice. I found DeGroff’s recipe too alcoholic, and out of balance with the tartness that I think this drink needs from the lemon juice.

This might just be me, though; I do like my drinks more sour than most people. But if someone wanted a sweeter Aviation, I’d probably recommend keeping Harrington’s proportions, and just increasing the maraschino up to 3/4 oz (though I haven’t tried that yet, to be honest).

It’s also possible that I’d think differently with a different gin. I used Tanqueray, which I usually prefer because it has a stronger juniper flavor than Bombay Sapphire, and I find that Bombay Sapphire with tonic tastes too much like Sprite (though it’s not quite as Sprite-like as Tanqueray Ten and tonic – shudder!). Perhaps Bombay Sapphire or a milder gin would work better in DeGroff’s recipe.

A nice variation, which I got when I ordered an Aviation at Clio Restaurant, is to use Meyer lemon juice in place of ordinary lemon juice.

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6 Responses to Cocktail vs. cocktail

  1. ruthling says:

    Have you gotten in to Boston Shaker in Davis Square yet? I’m not a big cocktail fan (I like my booze straight, or just beer) but they’ve got a lot of nifty tools and a huge selection of bitters.

    btw, I created a feed to read your blog on LJ which I use as my RSS reader these days, I hope you don’t mind. If anyone else wants to read it there, they can find it linked from my journal.

  2. Donald says:

    I’m glad you like my parents’ gift.

    And that’s all I have to say. I am, after all, a teetotaler.

  3. Kristin says:

    Ruth – No, I haven’t had the chance to visit Boston Shaker yet, though I’ve heard of it. A bartender recommended it as a place to get genuine Luxardo maraschino cherries, but I found them at the Fresh Pond liquor store, which is more convenient for me.

    And no, I don’t mind at all if you have a feed for reading my blog on LJ. Not that I understand how that works. I really don’t understand a lot of how these things work.

    Donald – I don’t mind that you’re a teetotaller! That way I always have a designated driver. 🙂

  4. Heide says:

    Works like that for dad and I as well, I do all the driving anyway.

  5. Lisa says:

    I have a meyer lemon tree in my backyard.

    Have you ever tried Hendricks? I prefer Bombay Sapphire to Tanqueray, but that might be because I don’t like to ruin it with fruit and pop. Why would you try something called Tanqueray Ten. Sounds like something people who teach their babies to do high fives would drink with 7-up and lime juice from a squeeze bottle.

  6. Kristin says:

    Yes, I like Hendricks a lot, although it’s very different from the traditional London dry style of gin. There are a bunch of newer American gins that are also supposed to be quite good – Aviation and Bluecoat, for instance.

    I tried Tanqueray Ten on the recommendation of friends at a wedding. The fact that none of them were gin drinkers should have clued me in. Still, my fancy new cocktail book does have a yummy-sounding recipe for a Tanqueray Ten based cocktail, with pomegranate juice.

    I like gin either straight, or mixed with juice and soda. It’s not ruining it if you use quality mixers, rather than grocery store sour mix. It’s just a different experience.

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