Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Cocktail Reading and Tasting A Bit Of History

Hix Bar, Soho

I am not going to rate this bar because I have only been once – and at these prices I am unlikely to go back any time soon (cocktails start at £9 though most are £10.50 and upwards, not outrageous but nonetheless…)

The reason I am writing this is because on the advice of Gin Monkey and Adam of DrElmegirab Bitters I took up some cocktail history reading and very soon got addicted. So I started off with the very readable Straight Up Or On The Rocks: A Story of the American Cocktail by William Grimes. This was a great place to start tracking the progression of drink in general travelling from the taverns of the west to glitzy hotel bars in the city and back to old techniques being reintroduced in today’s bars (though it does need updating with current fast moving trends, prohibition etc). It also got intrigued looks on the tube. There was a quite a lot of mention of punches, but nothing was on a par with the full history found in Punch by David Wondrich – utterly recommended and I am now onto his other book Imbibe! – which, as the title suggests, is all about the punch: the history, the tools, recipes old and new. Utterly fascinating.

Reading these recipes David has done his best to give you access to the drinks “of yore” but we simply do not have the same ingredients around. However when I saw The Criterion Milk Punch at Hix I simply had to go for it. Yes. MILK! And it was so interesting, in a good way.

-          El Dorado 5yo Demerera Rum
-          Martell VS Cognac
-          Pineapple, citrus, spice and milk infusion
All clarified and bottled and served in a metal julep cup with shaved ice and pineapple garnish

It was just so complex with a very fresh palate but a lush texture, creamy and weighty. I would definitely have this again. (Gin Punch a la Terrington made with lemon sherbet that I read so much about was also incredibly well executed).

I do wonder how many people would dare order a cocktail with milk and citrus in, either way, I thoroughly recommend getting your hands on any of these books, then heading to Hix for a special occasion to take yourself back in history. This is the Time Traveller’s Cocktail Club (unlike this!)

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