In aptly named book on whiskey cocktails, Warren Bobrow does two things very well. First, he provides succinct definitions and histories of the wonderful varieties of whiskey available in today’s spirits market. Second, Bobrow curates classic cocktail recipes for each type of whiskey in an accessible way that sets the reader at ease. His genuine love of the subject shines on every page, expressed not only in enthusiasm for his own journey of discovery, but in letting readers in on the ‘inside scoop’ of whiskey’s history in America.
Whiskey Cocktails is organized into chapters dedicated to whiskey by variety. One can easily jump to, for example, rye whiskey for a primer on its interesting history (British blockades during the Revolutionary War contributed to its rise as a substitute for rum) and its current ‘comeback’. After undergoing a long decline in the face of bourbon’s domination of the U.S. market, rye whiskey is, in Bobrow’s estimation, reclaiming its proper place among American whiskeys. This is especially true when it comes to the Old-Fashioned, the granddaddy of all cocktails, represented here in a Classic version as well as the author’s own ‘Slightly Askew’ version. As in the other chapters, the rye cocktail recipes are very well presented. An entertaining and informative paragraph on the drink’s provenance is followed by a list of ingredients and then the instructions in italic. On the facing page for most drinks, there is a beautiful photograph of the finished product.
The one complaint I have is that the sections of the book devoted to text-only content, that is to say everything except the recipes, is white text on black pages. Not a good choice in general, and certainly not for someone who might actually be enjoying a whiskey cocktail while trying to read this book. But never fear, the recipe pages are a blessed relief from eye strain, and the produce of those pages a blessed relief from whatever ails you.
Warren Bobrow has delivered an entertaining and useful guide on an important topic to America’s Drinking Class. The brief histories of whiskeys from around the world are worthwhile, but the recipes are the stars. You will have fun putting them to good use, especially when guests gather expectantly at your elbow, hoping this one is for them. – Jeff Thomas, RFT Contributor