Wednesday, April 7, 2010
A while ago I wrote about a book that has a permanent place next to all my shakers, stirrers, bottles and glasses: Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. Occupying an adjacent piece of real estate are the various books authored by Jeff "Beachbum" Berry. (If my bookshelf was an actual neighborhood, these would be the guys who are always out the front lawn, drink in hand, starting impromptu block parties).
The books in question, Sippin' Safari, Grog Log and Intoxica! are the definitive bibles of tiki/faux-tropical drink-making and history, and any half-aware cocktailian owns 'em. As for the author himself, there's not much I can add that hasn't already been documented elsewhere. Suffice it to say that Berry's impact on the tiki drink landscape can't underestimated- if it weren't for him, we'd all be buying powdered Mai Tai mix and drinking the equivalent of rum Slurpees.
So yeah, the guy pretty much single-handedly saved classic tiki drinks from being lost forever. No small feat, which is why you should have at least one of his books behind your bar at all times. And if you had to limit yourself to only one, the book I'd recommend conveniently just came out last week: Beachbum Berry Remixed.
Don't worry- I'm not going to do a full-on book review here. This is because:
1) There are going to be a ton of better-written ones appearing in the coming weeks.
2) When I write big, long posts it really cuts into my drinking time.
So the here's the scoop: Beachbum Berry Remixed combines the info from Grog Log and Intoxica! and wraps it all up with a boatload of full-color photos and illustrations. You get recipes, you get history, you get anecdotes, and you get useful facts on ingredients, including brand recommendations and how to make some things at home (if you're so inclined).
More importantly, there's new stuff. BBR isn't a barely-disguised attempt to re-package existing material like some lame greatest hits collection. The Bum has provided a bunch of new recipes (both his own and newly-unearthed ones), and there's also fresh background material on people, places and potions sprinkled throughout.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention there's an entire section containing new original recipes by drink writers, cocktail experts, bartenders, and people who play with booze and then blab about it online (a.k.a. bloggers). If you're the kind of person who travels the boozeblog circuit, you'll notice some familiar names, as there are contributions by this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy (who, by the way, is attempting to make every single drink in the book), and yours truly (As with my appearance in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, I've yet again found myself among people far more knowledgeable and experienced than myself. Nonetheless, I'm extremely flattered).
Anyway, if you're still reading this, stop now and go buy a copy of Beachbum Berry Remixed from your favorite purveyor of mashed-up trees and ink. Then make yourself a drink from it. One of my favorites is...
Zombie (midcentury version)*
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz. passion fruit syrup
1 oz. light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz. gold Puerto Rican rum
1 oz. lemon Hart 151-proof Demerara rum
1 tsp. Demerara sugar syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake well with lots of crushed ice and pour into a tall glass.** Garnish with a mint sprig.
* people who like this incarnation of the Zombie (like me) take considerable guff from those who prefer the other versions. Whether this is due to its hazy provenance, less-intensive rum profile or inclusion of passion fruit syrup remains to be conclusively determined. Regardless, I'm sticking to my guns.
** Because I'm a colossal nerd and take this stuff way too seriously, I like to shake with a few large ice cubes and strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Tomato, tomahto.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the Grogalizer has been updated and is fully operational! If you want to know what recipes from any of Jeff Berry's books you can make based on what currently resides on your liquor shelf, then the Grogalizer is what you need. Get over there and start mixing!