All you need to know about Spirited - Cocktails from Around the World
Our authoritative, global overview of cocktail recipes, from the classic to the cutting-edge, is a deeply satisfying mix
So, what’ll it be? Whatever your taste for cocktails, you’re bound to find it satisfied within the pages of Spirited - Cocktails from Around the World, Phaidon's first ever beverage bible and the most comprehensive (and, if we say it ourselves, beautifully-photographed) drinks compendium ever published.
The hard backed 432-page book is an encyclopaedic celebration of mixology, with over 610 recipes from 64 countries featuring 59 different spirits; accompanied by 10 essays and indexes by both name and by ingredient.
Author Adrienne Stillman - co-founder, editor-in-chief, and event director of Dipsology, a curated guide and community for cocktail enthusiasts - reached out to her contacts around the world to draw up this truly international survey. As she writes in her introduction, “I spoke to bartenders from Nairobi to Hong Kong to Vancouver to Madrid to Mexico City and everywhere in between.”
The author also put in an enormous amount of research, both in the library, and at her own mixing station. “I dug deep into historic cocktail books, from Jerry Thomas’s 1862 Bartender’s Guide, to Harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book, to modern collections from today’s top bars and booze writers,” she writes. “I spent untold hours comparing nuanced versions for each drink, testing slightly different proportions of liquor, vermouth, citrus and sweetener, served up or on the rocks, shaken, or blended.”
Some of the recipes, such as mulled wine, have truly ancient origins, while others were first mixed up just a few years ago in innovative, contemporary bars such as New York’s Dead Rabbit, Seattle’s Zig Zag Bar, and the Townhouse in London.
The result is a hugely refreshing and satisfying survey of mixed drinks, that would burnish any respectable bar anywhere in the world, while also satisfying the demands of domestic mixologists, and armchair barmen and women.
Arranged into cogent chapters, such as Sours or Punches, the book presents exacting, easy-to-follow instructions for making everything from an Alexander to a Zombie. Yet the book really distinguishes itself with its crisp, colour photography, contemporary layout and deep research.
With this book in hand you will learn that the French 75 takes its name from a French artillery gun with a 75mm shell because it was said to “knock you flat”; that Mick Jagger helped popularise the Tequila Sunrise; that the Bellini owes its appellation to the Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini “because its color supposedly evokes the pink glow of the artist’s paintings,”; that the Old Fashioned really is quite old fashioned; and that gin and tonic “was an English favorite with roots in the British Navy when quinine (the main ingredient in tonic water) and lime juice were used to ward off malaria and scurvy, respectively.”
A stickler when it comes to geography, Stillman reveals that the Moscow Mule was actually created in California, at “the Cock ’n’ Bull restaurant in Los Angeles, where many Hollywood stars had a signature copper mug engraved with their name," and Doctor Funk is the only Tiki cocktail with truly Pacific origins. But rest assured, Irish Coffee really does come from Ireland.
Spirited - Cocktails from Around the World also offers a remarkably sober take on some of the more flighty folk etymologies behind famous drinks. Consider this entry, which unpicks the derivation of the cocktail we know as a Harvey Wallbanger. “Created in California during the 1970s, perhaps by a surfer named Harvey who favoured Screwdrivers with Galliano, perhaps at a house party where a guest named Harvey was purportedly found the next morning banging his head and complaining of a hangover due to too many of these. Most likely the drink was a creation of McKessen Imports Company, who owned the sweet yellow Italian liqueur, Galliano, and were looking for a way to move this unusual product off shelves.”
And sharp histrionics aside, Spirited also offers plenty of practical information for too. Its feature essays, guides to glasses, spirits and bar equipment, and nifty home-bar hacks will make readers instant experts on, say, the difference between mezcal and tequila, Dry London and Old Tom gins, the countries that add an ‘e’ in when spelling ‘whisky’; and the wisdom of building a drink up with the cheapest ingredients first (“in case you make a mistake with the measurements, you do not have to throw away the expensive ingredients.”)
Spirited is the crucial ingredient when levelling up the potent potables at your next gathering; sociable foodies will love the flavour combinations and textures of the more exotic drinks; hospitality professionals also get a lot out of this deep, and satisfying dive into mixology; and teetotallers can even get a kick out of Spirited, as it also includes a wide selection of alcohol-free drinks. It really is how people around the world drink. Find out more and order your copy here.