DIY Cocktails

by: Marcia Simmons, Jonas Halpren

Adams Media
April, 2011
Ingredients, Recipes, Training,

DIY Cocktails provides a step by step guide to understanding why the "classic" cocktail recipes work, and then encouraging the reader to try their own modifications in an effort to become more comfortable with coming up with their own recipes.

DIY Cocktails: A simple guide to creating your own signature drinks

The return of the cocktail is clearly in full swing. Where once consumers were satisfied with simple recipe guides that presented a plethora of different cocktails, it has started to become common for authors to go beyond a rehash of the old recipes yet again, and instead provide the reader with specialty trends, advanced techniques, or focused explorations into the art and history of mixology.

In DIY Cocktails, the authors try to provide the reader with some guidelines and examples which will aid them in feeling comfortable going “off road” with their cocktail mixing endeavors. Starting with a good cross section of the classic standards (Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Martini , Gin & Tonic, Sidecar, Mai Tai, Brandy Alexander, Daiquiri, Mojito, and several more), they detail the ratios which make these various drinks work, then provide guidance, and insights on how to utilize other ingredients and techniques to experiment with your own variations.

When many consumers try to mix their own drinks without using a recipe, their efforts may be more akin to a room full of monkeys attempting to produce a work of Shakespeare. DIY Cocktails provides the foundational concepts which will at least help the readers start from a firmly established template, and evolve from there. The information, details, and recipes presented in the book are fairly solid and well researched, so if the reader is not already familiar with the craft of the cocktail, they will be starting from a good position with several great recipes to learn from.

I do however have a bit of an issue with the book. On one hand it is a book whose content is targeted at the beginning home mixologist, but at the same time it is trying to address the advanced topic of “creating custom cocktails”. So people who truly are beginners are being shoved out of the nest too soon, and those who have the necessary grasp of mixology to be ready to go “off-road” will find the content presented at too much of a beginners level. I like to treat mixology training the same way I would treat culinary training. Give the student a full and well-rounded course on the basic foundational concepts, methodology, and recipes of the classics, and then once they have really mastered those, help them understand how to use those as starting points that they can build upon to create their own specialty recipes. DIY Cocktails jumps too quickly in to playing “Mr. Potato Head” with the classic recipes, without really making sure the reader has everything they need to have mastered the original classic.