I have to admit that I was a tad bit intrigued when I was first approached about writing a review for DIY Cocktails: A Simple Guide to Creating Your Own Signature Drinks. I mean, a book that not only gives you recipes, but also helps you to create your own? Hmmmmm... sounded interesting and definitely different. I couldn't wait to dive in and see what it was all about.
When the book arrived the first thing I noticed was the interesting cover. The paperback had extra flaps on the front and back covers, giving the illusion of a hardcover book. While there is no actual dust jacket on it, the helpful flaps not only give you information about the book and the authors, but also make for built-in bookmarks! And trust me, you'll be happy they're there so you can easily mark recipes you can't wait to make.
The book is authored byDrinkoftheWeek.com's Marcia Simmons and Jonas Halpern. As described in the wordy, yet also helpful introduction, the duo managed to come up with a way that the average person can create their own drinks. And, not just drinks that follow basic and overused recipes, but those that are created by using their own personal tastes and preferences. What really caught my eye was that the book is geared towards the every day Joe and the ingredients that he already has on hand. Unless your bar is barer than Old Mother Hubbard's cupboards, you won't need to go out and buy pricey liquors, flavorings, or any other bar gear in order to create your own signature drink. Nice!
After the introduction is The Basics. In this part of the book you'll be treated to two chapters that give a little background, helpful information, and information about how the book will work. Basically, when it comes to creating a recipe, it isn't necessarily about the ingredients that you use but about the ratio of those ingredients. A combination of the right ratio can create a treat that tickles your taste buds and might even give you a happy buzz. The wrong ratio can taste pretty nasty and also give way too much alcohol. Yuck!
In this section you'll also learn about the different types of glassware, how to chill a glass, what bar tools do, how to measure and use mixing techniques, and how to prepare ingredients. Once you've gotten through The Basics you'll be ready to move on to The Ratios.
This section is broken down into 9 chapters, and each focuses on a different type of drinks. First up is The Original Cocktail. The flagship drink is the Old Fashioned. You'll get a look into why the recipe works and how you can tweak the recipe by changing the ratios and/or adding different ingredients to make it your own. You'll also learn about strong ingredients, bitters, and how homemade ingredients an add personal flair to your drinks.
Next is With a Dash, a Splash, or a Twist. With a name like that, it should be no surprise that this section mainly focuses on martini recipes and the ingredients that can be added to make different types.
Liquor Makes a Friend is all about drinks with a 2:1 ratio. This means two parts of a strong ingredient and one part of a weak ingredient. Sounds easy enough, right?
Life of the Party features popular drinks that most people like to drink at places like, you guessed it, a party! Margaritas and cosmos-yum! Tropical Drinks is pretty self-explanatory. It'll also make you want to get up a do a hula. Just saying...
Sweet and Creamy features drinks that are, well, sweet and creamy. White Russian, Brandy Alexander, and Grasshopper are the featured recipes. You'll also get some insight into the liquors, milks, and creams that go into these drinks.
Elegant Sips offers the how's and why's of stylish drinks. This section surely provides something for everyone.
Effervescence. This chapter is obviously about fizzy drinks, mainly what goes into them and why they're so darned bubbly good.
The last chapter is Parties and Punch. Here you'll learn about to make crowd-pleasing drinks for a par-tay.
Each chapter offers pertinent drink recipes, what you need to know to tweak the recipe in order to make it your own, or what you can do in order to create a completely new, original recipe using the same basic ideas. There are even handy note pages so you can jot down your ideas and recipes as you go along.
You'll even be given tips on how to fix a recipe that you've created in case the flavor just isn't quite what you were looking for.
Oh, and not to be overlooked are the pictures. They are awesome! Bright, vivid, and so real you'll want to try to pluck a glass right off of the page. The book is a little long. And some sections might be a little wordy. So, I would suggest maybe skipping around to those that interest you the most. But, all in all this is a good read with a unique concept that's definitely worth picking up.