Life, on occasion, sucks. And when fate revs up the Hoover, a drink has been known to ease the situation, or at least the recovery. But what is the best choice in a cocktail to help you get over your
friend Dudley giving your date a ride home? And what prescription is best after leaving your big presentation, only to discover a giant booger, slowly drying prominently on your tie?
These are the sorts of questions asked by Kerry Colburn (author of the doubtless dry and scholarly text, The U.S. of EH?: How Canada Secretly Controls the United States), in her new book, Good Drinks for Bad Days.
Good Drinks for Bad Days is a collection of 56 of the crappiest little deals life flings at people. And 56 cocktail remedies, each chosen to thematically soothe its matching wound. The problems are mostly tailored for the young, single professional, so many of them will not connect for a guy like me. Depending on the problem, this left me alternately nostalgic and relieved.
Good Drinks for Bad Days is a pocket-sized hardcover, just the right size to fit in the drawer of a small bar at home. The design is gray and white, with spartan text and red graphics representing the type of cocktail being advised. Among the criteria I personally consider when considering a cocktail book, it has some hits and misses. First, there are no sumptuous photographs of the cocktails, which in this book is not a serious failing. I also look for snappy quotes as sidebars that help illustrate the point being discussed and give me grist to appear wittier in conversation than I really am. These would have really have added something to this volume. And there is no Pegu recipe! Grrr. Of course, the magnificent Pegu is a cure-all, and the book would have been a bit of a bore had every problem had the same prescription…..
The recipes are virtually all standards. A I’ll get into below, this is one of this books virtues, but for the middle-aged cocktail fanatic with 30 books already on the bar shelf, Good Drinks for Bad Days is a light read, not a need.
But I still recommend a purchase, either to the twenty-something it is written for, or the old fart (like me) to buy as a gift. The strongest reason, beyond Good Drinks for Bad Days’s basic readability, is those recipes. Read them, and the cocktailian will soon see that Ms. Colburn (or perhaps her husband) knows their way around a real cocktail. A merciful few use Vodka, and the book comletely eschews such red flag shortcuts as sour mix or even Rose’s. There are lots of calls for fresh lemon and lime juices. In short, the book’s premise is fun, but its mixology is serious.
With a genuinely useful index, convenient size, and real cocktail recipes (the Red Bull and Vodka excepted), this is a very nice little starter recipe book that will stay useful to the budding cocktailian long after he or she finishes reading it for the ha ha. And if you, the old, hopeful mentor, have a young friend or relative who needs saving from the viscous cycle of beer and wine (and Jager Bombs), this is a good gift to get them pointed in the right direction.