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(Belated) New Year’s Book Review

(Belated) New Year’s Book Review

Colleen Graham, who writes about cocktails at About.com, has a pretty sensible list of New Year’s Resolutions for the cocktail drinker you look at in the mirror each day. Of course, not all of Colleen’s suggestions will apply you, or to me. I won’t reproduce the whole list since I don’t want to scrape her post, and since it is really just an intro to where I’m going anyway. But there are a few that bear looking at.

Resolution #1- Quality
I resolve that I will not submit myself to purchasing or consuming spirits that are on the bottom two shelves of the liquor store.

Some of you don’t need this resolution as it is already the central tenet of your existence. You should probably resolve instead to buy some Gibley’s every once in a while.

Resolution #5- Martinis
I resolve that I will refrain from referring to every drink served in a cocktail glass as a Martini.

Bless you for writing this, Ms. Graham. Bless you.

Resolution #8- Be a Courteous Host
I resolve to offer my non-drinking guests an elegant mocktail that makes them feel like adults.

I want to go on record as saying that I hate the word “mocktail”. Like “mixologist”, it is a stupid sounding word. I’ll add that they sound silly and sophomoric, just like my affinity for alliteration. But both words are just too darn useful to give up. I guess that we are stuck with them. Maybe if we use them enough, they eventually won’t sound so bad.
But much as I don’t like the word mocktail, I do like the concept. They are useful in so may ways, after all. Of course, they are there for the designated driver, who would otherwise feel (more) left out of an evening’s revelry. They also can be mixed into an evening’s drinking to extend said evening. Mocktails can be great for kids, especially as a good way to get them to drink their juice, dammit! And if you are driving a long road trip, have a mocktail with dinner. That way you can feel like you are having a civilized meal and still get in another two hours driving in on the way to Statesville, without falling asleep at the wheel.
Of course, the mac daddy of all mocktail applications is for mom-to-be. I’m not going to get into the debate on drinking while pregnant, except to say that clearly, drinking a lot while pregnant is a colossally bad idea. And just as clearly, the current Western school of public health believes that if too much of something is a bad thing, we should declare any amount of it to be a bad thing, since the helpless rubes who make up the citizenry can’t be expected to show any self-control.

I thought you didn’t want to get into this debate?

Sorry.
Regardless, several things are pretty settled: No alcohol during early pregnancy is a good idea, and if you drink in public while visibly pregnant, complete strangers will come up and “witness” upon you like a pentecostalist who has stumbled upon an underage ecstasy rave.
When Maggi was pregnant with our daughters, I was in my cocktailian (another silly word) infancy. I had no idea of the world of mocktails, and non-alcoholic wine was (and is) vile beyond human imagination. She was relegated to endless cranberry and sodas. It was genuinely a terrible sight to see.
But with the dawn of 2009 comes a new book with some splendid help in this arena from someone on my own blogroll!
preggatinisPreggatinis is a neat little book by The Liquid Muse, Natalie Bovis-Nelson. I had pre-ordered this from Amazon a while back, and it was waiting for me upon my return from the Sunny South.
I’ll start off with the basics. This little digest-sized book is chock full of beautiful photographs, recipes, chatty writing that you’ll be familiar with if you read Natalie’s blog, and appropriate quotes from other works. In short, it is the picture of what I usually describe as an ideal modern cocktail reference.
The Muse’s muse must have been feeling particularly inspirational when Natalie set the format for this book. Most cocktail books are written for the world of
Nick and Nora Charles, or
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, where life is a series of tiny adventures called cocktails, to be found in a series of larger, unconnected adventures called parties, which are interspersed with a periods of down-time preparing for the next adventure. While none of us (well, almost none of us) really live that life, it works for the books. But pregnancy is a long trip, with lots of parts. Preggatinis is unique among cocktail books in that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Natalie starts with an extensive section on pre-pregnancy drinking. She gives us a few high-test drinks for the last fling, some healthy but tasty drinks to detoxify the system prior to production, and then some libations designed to ignite or enhance the, um, “initial manufacturing process”. Oh, and she even includes a liquid tranquilizer for the wait while the stick turns blue, or not.
The meat of the book is divided into three sections, with drinks designed for each trimester. The first trimester drinks, for instance, center largely on ginger drinks to fight the dreaded morning sickness, and folic acid-heavy mocktails to aid in crucial early development.
The last section deals with what to do when baby makes three (or four, five or more). As a woman returns to alcohol from nine or more months of teetotalage, there is wisdom in taking it easy to start. Especially if she’s breast-feeding. Natalie serves up a batch of “gentler” beer and wine-based cocktails, as well as some lower calorie concoctions for women who want to race Angelina back to their pre-motherhood fighting weight.
But Preggatinis is more than just simple recipes. In a vacuum, mocktails are, frankly, a pain in the ass. No one knows how to make them. Dad does not want, or need, to drink them in most cases. Natalie has some particularly helpful features in the book to address problems like this. Several drinks (I wish there were more) are formatted as follows, to make it easier to still go out drinking with the girls:

Momosa
(Champagne Flute)
Order it like this:
Please bring my orange juice in a champagne flute. Add a splash of simple syrup, and top it with club soda.
….

Many drinks have an even more valuable instruction:

Fruity Folate Shake
(Tall Glass)
….
De-Virginize for Dad: Add 1 ounce coconut-flavored rum into the blender.

See what I mean? Cool huh?
But really, “De-Virginize?” Someone more creative than I please come up with a better new word than this linguistic relic of puberty. And do it before the second edition of this book comes out! Besides, the idea that a “Preggatini” is a “virgin” cocktail is… um… well as I write this, it is still Christmas….


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  1. Thank you for such an in-depth review of Preggatinis! I am thrilled that you were interested enough to take the time to order it, go through it and write about it on The Pegu Blog. I am not a fan of the word “mocktails” either and prefer to use my own terms such as: “Virgin Mixology” or simply “Nonalcoholic Cocktails.” I kinda liked the cheeky use of “de-virginize” when adding booze to Preggatinis – but I understand that not all people will embrace my sense of humor. I’m honored to have my book reviewed on your blog. Thank you, Doug!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. Doug

    6 January

    De-Virginize is more a victim of collateral damage from Mocktail…

    And since I really don’t have a reasonable alternative, and use or have used both myself, I’ll bow to the Buddha nature of your soul!

    Perhaps the creepy feeling I get from “De-Virginize” is a traumatic flash forward regarding two daughters who are a mere eight years or so away from puberty…..

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  3. pegu

    18 March

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