Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Cocktail Book for Your iPad

Cocktails books can be frustrating. You're given the recipe and a few instructions, but that doesn't necessarily lead to a great drink. Much is lost or unspoken between the page and the glass. And how-to cocktail videos aren't much better, simply because they're not convenient. Who mixes a drink while sitting in front of a television or computer screen?

A new iPad book would seem to combine the pluses of these two formats and shed the minuses. I had a chance to browse through "Speakeasy Cocktails: Learn from the Modern Mixologists," and found it quite fluid and visually attractive. It was released on Aug. 11. Here's the article I wrote about it for the Times:

Mixing Drinks on Your Lap With No Spills
By Robert Simonson 
Now subway riders can use their iPads not just to catch up on the latest best seller, but to prepare for the cocktail hour that awaits them at home.
On Aug. 11, “Speakeasy Cocktails: Learn from the Modern Mixologists,” a cocktail book for the iPad, will be released by Open Air Publishing. It was created by the New York mixologists Jim Meehan (of PDT) and Joseph Schwartz (Little Branch); Rob Willey, a freelance writer who has written about drinks for The New York Times and other publications, and Jon Feldman, president of Open Air.
The book — which will be available for $9.99 through the iPad apps store — combines text with the how-to mixology videos. A reader can surf from a scholarly treatise on tequila to a list a tequila-based cocktails. Click on a specific cocktail and you’re transported to the recipe. With select libations, there’s an accompanying video of either Mr. Meehan or Mr. Schwartz building the drink at their respective bars. Specific techniques (how to stir, shake, cut a twist, rim a glass with salt, even how to adorn a Pisco Sour with a swirl of bitters) are covered in separate linked video clips.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” Mr. Schwartz said. “You get the recipe, but also someone making it, so you can see how it’s put together. And you learn the finer points of different kinds of ice, how to flame an orange peel — lots of different pointers that you can access piecemeal as you need them.”
“Speakeasy Cocktails” will feature more than 200 cocktail recipes. They are divided into four sections: “Master Drinks” (time-tested formulas that work with almost any base spirit); “The Canon,” which covers classic cocktails; “Rediscovered Classics,” including old drinks that have been resurrected in recent years; and “New Standards,” libations invented by today’s crop of ambitious mixologists, including Kirk Estopinal of New Orleans’ Cure, Jackson Cannon of Eastern Standard in Boston, and Kevin Ludwig of Beaker & Flask in Portland, Ore. There are videos for 15 bedrock cocktails, including the daiquiri, negroni and bloody Mary. “The drinks were picked not only because they were classic drinks,” said Mr. Feldman, “but because each had multiple components of technique to demonstrate.”
“I made a point of talking about every single thing I was doing,” added Mr. Meehan.
A number of drinks feature an “after” picture that can be rotated 360 degrees, showing how the completed drink should appear. “Some drinks look the same from every angle, like a sazerac,” Mr. Feldman said. “With the mint julep, Jim explains how you want the mint to be away from the nose. So a person making that at home can see what that drink should look like from the back.”
“In some places we wanted the text to function almost as the guy on the barstool next to you,” said Mr. Willey, “like, ‘See, you’ve really got to shake the thing.’ “

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