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Friday, December 10, 2010

Speakeasy: Classic Cocktails Reimagined

Bathtub gin! Sloe-eyed vamps in flapper skirts dancing the Charleston! Long, late nights fraught with illicit behavior! Although it may not have seemed so for everyone at the time when speakeasies served booze on the sly during Prohibition, I can’t help but think this particular part of the past must have been a blast.

In Speakeasy: Classic Cocktails Reimagined, From New York’s Employees Only Bar (Ten Speed Press), Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric shake up the past and the present with their ingeniously concocted cocktails. The duo behind Macao Trading Co., Kosmas and Zaric first became a team at SoHo’s Pravda and also formed Cocktail Conceptions, a beverage consulting company.

A recent trip to their intimate West Village bar-restaurant, Employees Only, revealed just how these mixologists take a culinary approach to classic cocktails. Using only the finest spirits and a balance of fresh fruit, herbs and homemade syrups, time-honored classics get a highly reverent re-presentation. We loved sipping some of the hooch, such as the Proven├žale ($14)—lavender-infused Plymouth gin stirred with herbs de Provence-infused vermouth and Combier Royal. We also thrilled to the Manhattan Cocktail ($14) where Rittenhouse rye is stirred with Italian vermouth, orange cura├žao and dashes of Angostura bitters.

From aperitifs to cordials, more than 80 luscious libations are presented in Speakeasy and all of the recipes are rife with detail as well as tales about their origins. Helpful tasting notes and which glassware to use when serving your swellegant guests some sauce make this a gift worth giving—or keeping for yourself!

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First published in Next magazine.

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