I'm rather meek when it comes to mixing cocktails at home. A French 75 or a Gin Fizz is about as wild and crazy as it gets. However, my attitude towards mixology has completely changed thank to a very entertaining new book, William Yeoward's American Bar. (The title refers to the high-style bars of London and Paris during the 1920s and 30s, often referred to as "American bars" because of the cocktail craze that began on our shores.)
Yeoward's book is a compilation of cocktail recipes conjured up by the bartenders at five of Yeoward's favorite London watering holes: The Connaught Bar; Annabel's; Beaufort Bar at The Savoy; American Bar at The Savoy; and Berkeley Blue Bar. With names like Smoked Old-Fashioned, Fleurissimo, and Hanky Panky, these cocktails are no ordinary drinks. Rather, they are creatively crafted drinks made from all kinds of intriguing ingredients like Punt e Mes vermouth, celery bitters, or jasmine pearl tea.
Now, it's the exotic sounding ingredients that might give you pause. Initially, they did to me as well since I don't have things like celery bitters sitting on my bar. But the book's gorgeous photographs of cocktails in glamorous settings were enough to convince me to try my hand at some of these recipes. And Yeoward's writing is so upbeat and enthusiastic, you will want to make more than a few of these cocktails.
The bonus to this book is the last section in which Yeoward lists his favorite cocktails to serve to his guests, and these drinks you'll probably recognize: Margarita; Gin Sling; Whiskey Sour. These recipes are a nice addition because sometimes you just want to serve a drink that's easy to make. There are also some wonderful canape recipes as well as photographs of Yeoward's preferred party glasses. (As would be expected of a man whose crystal and glassware is coveted by so many of us, Yeoward has an enviable collection of drinkware.)
If you love cocktails and enjoy entertaining, or if you're simply a fan of William Yeoward, then I highly recommend that you consider this book for your collection. The book would make a great gift for friends or family, too.
Visit The Peak of Chic Entertains today to read the book's recipe for a Connaught Martini.
All photos from William Yeoward's American Bar by William Yeoward; Cico Books, 2012; Gavin Kingcome photographer.