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Mr. Boston Summer Cocktails - Cocktail Book Review

Celebrating Fresh Herbs

by Anthony Giglio, Jim Meehan
(Wiley, 2010)

Mr. Boston's Summer Cocktails

The cocktail, despite its enduring popularity, has only recently started garnering more than a Rodney Dangerfield-level of respect.  Summer cocktails in particular have had a hard go at it, due to the ubiquity of watered-down frozen margaritas and overly saccharine “fruit” martinis.  With Mr. Boston Summer Cocktails, editors Anthony Giglio and Jim Meehan combat this perception one muddled herb at a time.

Herbs show up throughout much of the guide.  Not merely the conventional mint is featured but a plethora of savory herbs show up, from basil to shiso (also known as purple mint or Japanese basil). Take the Mediterranean Breeze, in which a simple spring of thyme adds a complexity to the crisp, citrus-focused drink made from lemon, lime, limoncello, and citrus vodka.  This drink highlights the book’s ingredient-focus that mirrors the dominant culinary philosophies of seasonality and localism.

With many drinks designed to highlight seasonal fruits, the result is a bevy of libations that would please both Alice Waters and a Hamptons-summering Miranda, Carrie, Charlotte, and Samantha.  One such drink is the gin-based Marylebone, in which fresh blackberries are brought to a higher plane by the addition of fresh lemon juice and allspice liqueur. 

Eye-pleasing imagery aside, with rare ingredients like allspice liquor, this book is not for the novice.  The brief introduction to the cocktail making and few helpful tips seem like an afterthought. Instead, the book focuses on show-stopping drinks like the Electric Ladyland, which whimsically combines rose jam with pisco (a Peruvian grape liquor), fresh lime juice, and champagne. Though the book falls short in terms of technique, it does offer a valuable window into the ambitious world of contemporary cocktail creation.

Reviewed by Jesse Fox

(Updated: 05/23/13 BH)

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