Saturday, October 6, 2012

World's Best Cocktails? Count the Gin Basil Smash as one

My new hero is Tom Sandham.  Keyholder for the PDT bar in New York.  Jetsetter, always on the lookout for the perfect drink.  Cocktail columnist for the Times - London, not New York. 

People?  I didn't know cocktail columnist was a job description.  Clearly, I'm in the wrong line of work.

Oh, and Mr. Sandham is the author of World's Best Cocktails.  You want this book - and you can have it since it was just released in the States.  Gorgeous photography.  Wonderful and witty writing.  Both the photos and the writing are in support of 500 signature drinks from around the globe.  He includes bar and bartender profiles in addition to the drinks.

And the drinks?  This book is the best alcohol porn I've come across in a while. 

Some of the drinks aren't for the home bartender.  The Emerald, for instance, showcases 18-year-old Chivas - and while the Chivas would have made my dad smile, the Green Apple Foam to top the drink would have had him laughing. 

Green Apple Foam (from page 185):

With a blender, mix 8.5 oz. apple juice with 1 tsp. xanthan gum.  Double strain to separate the liquid from the foam.  Fill a whipped cream siphon with the foam.  Charge with 2 nitrous oxide/N20 canisters.

But books like this - and it's one of the recent best - showcase the beautiful and the sublime.  It doesn't matter that you don't have nitrous canisters (you don't, right?), what matters is that Mr. Sandham puts you at the bar with Max Warner, the global brand ambassador for Chivas (another job description I did not know existed), and Mr. Warner can mix you up that Emerald, and away you go.

The book is intelligent, sumptuous, and Mr. Sandham's guiding hand is always sure.

I took a stab at the Gin Basil Smash on page 100 because it looked delicious (and because my garden's basil was fast running out).

The drink's a beauty, created by Jorg Meyer, owner of Le Lion bar in Hamburg, Germany.  Mr. Sandham begins his book with his list of the World's Top 30 Cocktail Bars, and Le Lion makes it there at #18 - as does Rickhouse (#6), the closest (to me) bar on his list.  If you're not busy, why not meet me in San Francisco?  It's on Kearny, just below Bush.  You'll love their Rye Maple Fizz.

For now, please enjoy the


Fresh, sweet basil
1.75 oz. Gin
4 tsp. lemon juice
4 tsp. simple syrup
Muddle the basil in a shaker.  Add remaining ingredients and ice.  Shake.  Fine strain into a chilled rocks glass, over.  Garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of basil.

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