The first thing I thought of when I saw this next title was, Casablanca. You know, the classic 1940’s movie with a dreamy Humphrey Bogart and gorgeous Ingrid Bergman? If you haven’t seen this movie and have no idea what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and Netflix/Hulu/Amazon/Instant Demand it immediately.
You can thank me later.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll explain why this next book reminded me of what I consider to be such a timeless movie for three reasons: art, cocktails, and travel.
In his new book, Around the World in 80 Cocktails, Chad Parkhill transports readers around the globe from the comfort of the bar cart in your living room! So, you might be asking, how does this book relate to Casablanca?
Well, let’s go through the reasons. The first reason would be the art inside this book! Around the World is illustrated by Alice Oehr, and when I say “illustrated,” I’m not just talking about cover jacket art. Ms. Oehr created custom “postcards” for each of EIGHTY cocktails featured. Not only does this attention to detail give a reader a little travel inspiration, but it also breaks away from a traditional photograph of a cocktail. Everything from the appropriate stemware to optional garnishes are included, making these illustrations nothing short of beautiful.
The art inside of this book reminded me of Casablanca and how beautiful the architecture is in that part of the world. There’s something so timeless about art and I think that the personalized postcards, or drink portraits, if you will, beautifully captures the unique personality of each drink in this book.
Now let’s get to the second reason, cocktails. This book covers a whopping EIGHTY cocktails…and if you look at the inside covers (both back and front), there are illustrated maps of which cities are featured in the book. You can also mosey on over to the table of contents to get a full list of drinks and places of origin, alphabetized by cocktail name. I was really impressed with the selection of drinks offered in this book. There are some with five or fewer ingredients (aka you can make in a spiffy), as well as ones that require a little more planning in terms of ingredient acquisition ahead of time. I’d say that this kind of variety is a rare thing to find in a cocktail book…oftentimes they’re just about one alcohol or focus more on one kind over other.
I good tie in to Casablanca here would be when Humphrey Bogart says, “of all the gin joints, in all of the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” You could probably guess the context is romantically-based, but who would have known that he’d meet his love interest in a bar?! (If you’re not already convinced on purchasing this book, maybe that extra incentive of picking up a skill or two to impress someone on a date might help! If it can work for Humphrey Bogart, it could certainly work for you…).
Last but certainly not least, the third reason why this book reminded me of Casablanca is because it’s all about the memories we make while traveling around the world. There’s a famous line in Casablanca when Bogart tells Bergman, “We’ll always have Paris.” I won’t spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it, but let’s just say Paris holds a fond memory for the pair. This brings me to one of my favorite parts about this book; aside from the beautiful art and tasty cocktail recipes, there are the stories included with each recipe. I’m all about a good cocktail, but it added so much more value to me as a reader and aspiring cocktail- connoisseur to get to know a little bit more about the drink I’m making.
Mr. Parkhill does a superb job of seamlessly weaving together the history of each cocktail with the actual recipes (and as an added bonus, many recipes include bartender’s tips to perfect your technique).
I did have the chance to recipe test a few cocktails from the book and these are my thoughts (in addition to a very kind sneak peek from the publishers with the accompanying “postcards” for these cocktails):
–Bird of Paradise from Colón, Panama: This is such a refreshing drink that’s designed to “beat the equatorial heat” with notes of Caribbean flavors like: lime, raspberry, and orange. You can spruce up this drink by garnishing it with a tropical flower of your choice. Normally I’m not too fond of gin drinks, but the citrus and other fruit flavors definitely tone it down to be less powerful than a gin and tonic.
–Sakura Martini from Kobe, Japan: Cherry blossoms are synonymous with Japan, so I was very excited to try a drink that incorporates something that I haven’t tried very much of (sake) and something I add to many drinks (grenadine). Not only is this a beautiful drink to serve with the rehydrated sakura blossom, but it’s a fun riff of the age-old straight-up martini. TIP: I’d recommend stopping at local florist markets to find the cherry blossom, or if you’re lucky, many grocery stores carry them in the floral section when they’re in season!
–Spritz Veneziano from Venice Italy: I recently took an Italian bitters class where I tried aperol and campari for the first time. If you haven’t tried either, bear in mind these alcohols have a licorice-like flavor, so some people love them and others…not so much. This is such a classic Italian drink, and as the author notes, these spirits can range in taste from “robustly bitter,” to “smokey and brooding,” while some are “light and elegant.” It just depends what kind of spritz you get. I like that this drink can be served straight up or iced and usually with a fruit garnish to cut the bitterness.
–Tokaji Smash from Tokaj, Hungary: I tried this recipe because I had no idea what the name of cocktail meant and I wanted to know more! The story accompanying this recipe is really interesting, and come to find out Tokaj is a renowned place to grow wine. This drink is pretty citrusy, but I’d definitely recommend it as a standalone cocktail or as a batch drink for a party-it’s SO refreshing.
All in all, I’d go so far as to say this book is basically an all-inclusive trip around the world for under $20. The recipes take you to places near and far, while sharing well-known facts and lesser known lore. It’d make a great holiday gift for that someone who has everything and appreciates a great cocktail from the comfort of home. It’d be a great gift to someone planning a themed party or looking for a signature drink for an event (*hint hint to all my friends planning weddings, please look here before trying to concoct something of your own without any kind of bartending knowledge*).
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Score Card: Cover Art 5/5 | Content 5/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
Book Stats: Title- Around the World in 80 Cocktails by Chad Parkhill with Illustrations by Alice Oehr
Page Count- 176
Binding- Hardcover with color illustrations