The French have been particularly prolific when it comes to cocktail books this year, and another new one to hit the shelves, en français, comes from the Liquid Liquid Team of Thierry Daniel, Eric Fossard and Jérémy Auger in collaboration with Olivier Reneau. Liquid Liquid is the communications agency specializing in cocktails and spirits that created Paris Cocktail Week and the Cocktails Spirits Salon. So, clearly this team knows their way around a shaker.
Le Grand Cours de Cocktails offers up some comprehensive cocktail coverage, including theory, tools, techniques and recipes. The book begins by grounding the would-be bartender with a mini-history of the cocktail through a timeline that takes us up to modern day mixing and mocktails. The introduction also covers cocktail families (sours, flips, etc.), methods, and the most important underlying element of successful mixing: balance. After some further discussion on products and food pairing, we’re into the practical section with the recipes.
While some other comprehensive and recommended French cocktail books (Larousse, Cocktail Now) divide recipes by base spirit, le Grand Cours de Cocktails divides them primarily by skills/knowledge level. The first 100 recipes, each with a corresponding photo, are divided into three sections. Level 1 features fifty cocktail recipes from the classic dry martini to the more modern Tommy’s Margarita. The collection is meant to familiarize the user with the basic techniques and approach. Level 2 offers up thirty recipes chosen to take your bartending techniques up a notch. Level 3 finishes up with a final twenty recipes that, in addition to the previous 2 sections, provide solid understanding of the essential recipes that form the base of cocktail culture.
Next up: an additional already established 300 recipes listed in smaller format without photos and with pictograms showing glassware, garnish, etc. An index in the back of the book allows you to find any recipe you’re looking for no matter in which section it falls. Following the 400 recipes is a table, which references 45 of the cocktails by base spirit so you can still easily find drinks that incorporate your preferred ingredients.
An additional nice touch: the origin notes for the first 100 cocktails, giving readers a little more context and backstory. Each of these recipes also features an additional informative point. For example, for the Blood and Sand cocktail, we learn that some bartenders use blood oranges to give it an even deeper red color.
Basically, Le Grand Cours de Cocktails is a complete course on cocktail basics, but it’s also a large and beautiful book. So, it will work well for a beginner but also serve as a solid reference or coffee table book for those more familiar with mixology.
This 384-page book can be bought on various sites (Fnac, Hachette, Amazon, etc.) for 24.95 Euros.
For a sneak peak inside the book, check out the Airmail, see picture above and recipe details below. As indicated in Le Grand Cours de Cocktails, this drink began showing up on US cocktail menus in the 50’s. While little is known on its origins, they suggest that it’s a twist on the famous French 75.
-40 ml dark Cuban rum
-20 ml fresh squeezed lime juice
-20 ml honey syrup**
-60 ml champagne
- Chill your cocktails glass with a few ice cubes.
- Pour the rum, lime juice and syrup into your mixing glass.
- Add 8 to 10 ice cubes and shake for 10 seconds.
- Remove the ice cubes from your cocktail glass.
- Strain drink into your chilled glass and top with champagne.
- Garnish with a mint leaf.
**Make honey syrup by mixing equal parts honey and warm water. Keep any remainder refrigerated.
*Recipe reprinted with authors’ permission