Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cocktail Noir by Scott M. Deitche

Morning, all! I've got Christmas gifts on the brain today and wanted to highlight a book that recently landed on my doorstep that's perfect for any reader/cocktail enthusiast on your list. It's Scott M. Deitche's Cocktail Noir: From Gangsters and Gin Joints to Gumshoes and Gimlets.

Deiche brings together the fiction world of hard-drinking private eyes, the authors who created them, and the very real Prohibition history and gangsters to create a book that's packed with fabulous trivia and recipes. From classics like the Bee's Knees and Sazerac to the Tree Line and everything in between, Deitche outlines the history and the making of these drinks and the famous, infamous, and even fictional folks who drank them.

A few tidbits that stand out for me - Deitche highlights famous mafia hangouts throughout the country like Denver's Gaetano's, a restaurant I've personally yet to visit but one my husband raves about. You can tour the place and they even show off the room where they say the Smalldones and their men did their killings. There are apparently a ton of bars in New Orleans that claim mafia ties, too. The La Louisiane still features a Prohibition-themed bar. On a recent trip, my family recommended checking out the Carousel Bar. Though not mafia related, it is located in the Hotel Monteleone and features a true rotating carousel bar. Deitche provides the recipe for their signature Vieux Carré for those of us who haven't yet made it there :)

Probably the biggest standout of the book, for me personally, is the Prohibition history and the drinks that date from that era. I find the history of cocktails to be completely fascinating and love the fact that many of these drinks are coming back into style today. The aforementioned Bee's Knees, for example, is one I'd seen Geoffrey Zakarian make on an episode of Food Network's The Kitchen one recent Saturday morning. I'm not a BIG drinker but I do like a good gin cocktail and immediately made plans to try this one. Deitche also highlights the Ramos Gin Fizz, a favorite of mine after I tried a fabulous local version. (The Ramos is another New Orleans creation, one that dates back to the 1880s according to Deitche.)

Of course no cocktail book relating to the fiction world would be complete without some of the BIG ones. The Vesper Martini recipe is featured as is the fact that apparently James Bond and Hemingway were both fans of Campari. Hemingway does get a few mentions, but his penchant for Cuban travel and drinking and the daiquiri named for him don't appear in the book. I'd assume this is because Hemingway wasn't known for noir works. Something to keep in mind when thumbing through the book - Deitche's theme is quite interesting but this is not by any means meant to be a general cocktail or drinking history.

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