But what about the Americano, the mojito, and the Negroni? What goes into sangria, exactly? And if a party guest happens so ask you for a Chi Chi, what should you do?
Salvatore Calabrese has the answer to these questions and more. (For a Chi Chi, reach for the vodka and coconut cream.) Calabrese manages the bar at the Lanesborough Hotel in London. He knows his drinks—he's author of Classic Cocktails and Classic After-Dinner Drinks and a world-renowned cognac expert. His latest book, Classic Summer Cocktails arrives just in time for the summer drinking season.
Most drink recipe books are a dime-a-dozen and most discriminating imbibers are right to be wary of them. Calabrese's is a handsome little book, printed on heavy coated (and, one guesses, spill-resistant) stock and filled with photographs of fantastically adorned beverages that in some cases look more like modern art than something you would actually drink. He is by no means exhaustive—if seven or eight variations on the Singapore Sling are what you're looking for, you'd best track down a second-hand copy of Charles Baker's Gentlemen's Companion—but he doesn't simply list the traditional summer fare and their ingredients. He has fun with them. He devotes whole chapters to the daiquiri and the margarita, explaining in loving detail their origins, component parts, and proper preparation. (Trivia buffs take note: The daiquiri was JFK's favorite drink, and the margarita was first made for actress Marjorie King, who said she was allergic to all liquor save tequila.)
Calabrese provides several recipes of his own. Some are strange and a bit girlish—e.g. the Velvet Rose; one shot of rum, half an ounce of peach schnapps, cranberry juice, topped with champagne. But one caught my eye, perhaps because it's so wonderfully un-P.C. It is called the Breakfast Martini. I won't divulge the recipe, except to say that purists will undoubtedly object to the introduction of orange marmalade. But Calabrese almost has me convinced. "Try this—it has a wonderful texture, combined with the spiciness of the juniper, a sweetness and a sharpness," he writes. "It's refreshing…. You're alert from the very first sip. What a way to start a summer vacation day." Vacation day? Right.