In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks, a book review
Have you ever thought about where the cocktail comes from? I mean really thought about it. Not the fact that your favorite bartender slaps together some fresh juice, triple sec and rum, but the artistry that is behind it. I’ll admit it. I didn’t. Cocktails were what you sipped in college when you had money for anything above a can of PBR. I knew the basics– rum and coke, cosmos, raspberry kamikaze shots, margaritas, daiquiris, pina coladas. Mine was not a sophisticated palette until I was in my late 20s and decided drinking just to drink was insane. If I was going to waste some calories (and hard earned cash!) I wanted a well made drink that I could sip all evening. This is something the ladies behind the classic cocktail book In the Land of Cocktails grew up understanding.
You see, in New Orleans, children being raised in a certain age, and in many families even today, you were taught to respect the drink. Children learned how to prepare the perfect Sazerac, Scotch Old-Fashioned and Gin Gimlet for their parents and their guests. The old families of New Orleans turned it into an art form after the first cocktail was made in this fine city.
Authors Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan are not two random cocktail writers off the streets. They are born and raised in New Orleans. They run the Commander’s Palace, Cafe Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar– all New Orleans institutions that are respected by the locals. Their friends own other long standing bars, restaurants and even the Museum of the American Cocktail. They were raised to appreciate a fine cocktail, to savor it and never, ever settle for anything else than perfection. To say they are experts in the field of cocktail making would be an understatement.
As a novice in the land of cocktails I was educated on the fine art of drinking during my stay in New Orleans. Start off lunch with a classic French 75 at Arnaud’s followed by wine to pair with the meal, or a Sazerac at the Latitude’s Bar in the new Le Meridien, followed by dinner at LMNO with wine pairings. Everything was matched up perfectly to blend the flavors on your palate.
When I returned home I began reading this book. I wanted to know more about why the cocktail was so important to the people of New Orleans– the real people who lived there, not the idiots drinking giant Hurricanes in plastic green cups on Bourbon Street. What I found was a rich history filled with tradition, fun stories about one crazy old aunt named Adelaide and a sub-culture of cocktail connoisseurs who demand perfection in everything that passes their lips.
If you love a fine cocktail, this is the book for you. I may not be making a Break Tag or Whoa, Nellie! anytime soon, but the stories that are woven throughout the book show a New Orleans most visitors will never see. Like many old towns in the south, the old families really do rule the roost, and you better get to know them if you want to understand what makes this town tick.
Publisher’s Synopsis: Can’t tell a Gin Fizz from a Gimlet? Think a Sidecar is something you’d see at the racetrack? If your idea of a wild night is a few Lemondrop shots washed back with a Cosmo, you’re in need of some cocktail therapy! And there’s no one better to tell you everything you need to know about a Brandy Crusta, a French 75, a Cachaça Swing, and much, much more than Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, who will take you on a rip-roaring trip. . . . In the Land of Cocktails
Proprietors of the legendary New Orleans restaurant Commander’s Palace, Ti and Lally are cocktail divas, spread-ing the gospel about how to make drinks properly, from why a true Sazerac can only be made with Peychaud’s bitters to why hand-chipped ice is best for cocktails. In this marvelously entertaining book—both a guide to making some of the world’s best cocktails and a memoir of the authors’ lives surrounded by family, friends, and delicious food—there are recipes for familiar classics like the Corpse Reviver and the Old-Fashioned; New Orleans favorites like Brandy Milk Punch and the Sazerac; and new inventions created by Ti and Lally, such as their now-famous Whoa, Nellie!
In the Land of Cocktails includes information on pairing food with cocktails, introductions to the beloved, boisterous Brennan family and their friends, and explanations of some of the unique, perhaps strange to some, words and ways of life in New Orleans. Filled with wit, sass, warmth, and lots of good times, In the Land of Cocktails is the ideal gift for cocktail lovers everywhere, whether you’re a novice or an old drinking pro.
Title: In the Land of Cocktails
Author: Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks
Publication Date: October 30, 2007, $19.99 hardcover
Format: Hardcover and Kindle
For ages: 21 and up