The Complete Book of Spirits: A Guide to their History, Production and Enjoyment by Anthony Dias Blue

336 Pages, Hardcover

HarperCollins Publishers Inc., New York, NY October, 2004

Reviewed by Daniel Benabou for Good Cooking November, 2004

 

There is a lot to read in this book and if you read it all, you will be somewhat of an expert. Certainly you will be able to hold your own with the sales people in liquor stores and then some. Good Cooking liked the Mai Tai recipe from the original Trader Vic's restaurants!


The Review---

 After reading The Complete Book of Spirits, I thought it was excellent. I particularly liked the author's layout and how he told all about the history of each drink. I also liked how the writer explained in detail how each
drink's spirit was invented, and all the details of how it was made and the ingredients of each drink. An example of this is that I thought vodka was only made from potatoes. By reading this book, however, I discovered that vodka is made from many herbs, as well as potatoes.
There are many other parts of this book that I liked too. These include the tasting notes and rating systems of every drink and the home making recipes. My favorite home making recipe is the limoncello. I cannot wait until the spring time when I get to try it out! I definitely liked how the writer described the liqueur or cordial from each country.
I also learned a lot from this book. Until I read it, I never knew what tequila was made of, but now I know that it is made from agave plant. In addition, I learned a lot about scotches on page 155. Before reading this section, I was intimidated to go to the store and buy or taste any scotch. This was because I never knew what I was looking for and the tastes that I'd like. After reading this book, it is now easier for me to identify scotch and single malt beverages.
There are also some parts of the book that I did not like much. One of these is how there are not any pictures of what the drinks are made of. The writer gives a good description, but how will I know what the plant looks like if I wanted to go out and buy the ingredients? 

I tried the following recipes:
The Classic Margarita I liked the recipe, but substituted Cointreau for the Triple Sec. 

Classic Margarita
1 lime wedge
Kosher salt
2 ounces of tequila
1 1/2 ounces triple sec or Cointreau
1 1/2 ounces lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup

The Classic Pina Colada I enjoyed it very much. Perfect for my taste.

Classic Pina Colada
3 ounces light rum
3 tbsp. coconut milk
3 tbsp. crushed pineapple
1 pineapple slice

Shake the ingredients with ice cubes. Strain into a Collins glass. Add the pineapple slice as a garnish.

This book was easy to use; easy to read and follow. I would recommend it to friends and would buy it for myself to have on hand.

'2004 by Good Cooking, Inc.