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The Caterer

The International Guide to Drinks

27 July 2006
The International Guide to Drinks

In all professions, there are books that become base references for anyone working in them. Trainee chefs, for instance, traditionally cut their teeth on Victor Ceserani's Practical Cookery and its subsequent updates. And The International Guide to Drinks feels as if it's in the same vein for aspiring bartenders.

The book was first published in the early 1950s and has just undergone its latest revision. It's definitely a textbook: there's no expensive print paper, no glossy poster-size photos in soft focus.

However, it does have the essential cocktail recipes, alongside other useful information detailing essential tools of the trade, standard non-liquid ingredients (olives, maraschino cherries, eggs, limes, nutmeg, etc), glassware - even brief summaries on wine and cigar types.

Also useful is a conversion table for imperial and metric volumes, and a short and sweet history of the cocktail at the beginning of the book, before the recipes kick in.

Did you know, for instance, that the first cocktail book was published in the 17th century? Or that the term "cock-tail" probably derives from the practice of docking the tails of draught horses.

The recipes are divided between six chapters, including the main one ("Cocktails and Mixed Drinks"), which has several subchapters, among them an A-Z of recipes and Classic Styles. The latter covers the ever-popular Champagne cocktails, as well as eggnogs, cobblers (both wine- and spirit-based), Collins and daiquiris.

The Va-Va-Voom cocktail has a more contemporary ring to it and also sounds worth a try (speaking from the punter's point of view, that is): vodka, passion fruit syrup, apple and lime juice, honey and mint leaves seem to be a good bet to push during hot summer weather.

Failing that, an attempt at Golden Egg-laying might prove lucrative (advocaat, watermelon and butterscotch liqueurs and some passion fruit syrup), although it's not for the faint-hearted customer.

The International Guide to Drinks
Compiled by The United Kingdom Bartenders' Guild
Ebury Press, £12.99
ISBN 0-09-191202-4

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