“I just knew I could make them without screwing it up. That’s a very important criteria for me,” says Liquor.com contributor Kara Newman about what drew her to equal-parts cocktails, like the Negroni and 50/50 Martini. Ultimately that became the angle for her new book, Shake. Stir. Sip. (Chronicle Books, $17), which debuts September 20.
A gorgeous collection of 50 easy-to-memorize cocktail recipes and droolworthy full-page photographs, it’s a must-have for every cocktail enthusiast and party host. Unlike with most recipes found in countless other cocktail books, apps and websites out there, even the jigger-averse can pull these off. Each is made up of ingredients measured in equal amounts. Newman’s right: There’s really no way you can mess it up.
50/50 Martini (image: John Lee)
Not to say there’s no such thing as a bad equal-parts cocktail. “The equal-parts Sidecar is a tough thing to drink,” says Newman. “And an equal parts Blood & Sand is one of the worst things ever; it’s undrinkable.”
The author, a stickler for recipe testing, R&D’d 100 recipes to insure they were good enough for the book. “It drives me crazy when a recipe doesn’t work, especially if it’s in a book. I feel like people are paying a lot of money for books and they deserve to have recipes work.” So know that the 50 here are the good ones.
Kara Newman (image: Daryl-Ann Saunders)
“Equinox drinks,” as nicknamed by Houston bartender Bobby Heugel, are perfect in the case of an emergency, like for a last-minute cocktail party or when thirsting for something other than the usual. Keep it simple with two ingredients like the 50/50 Martini, or go crazy with a five-ingredient rum punch.
But easy recipes aren’t indicative of a dumbed-down tome. “I felt very strongly that this shouldn’t be a 101-type book,” says Newman. “It’s for someone who maybe hasn’t made a lot of drinks but they know what they like and they have a very sophisticated palate.”
Negroni (image: John Lee)
Along with the recipes, the book possesses just about everything the home bartender needs to build their own drink den. Newman effectively breaks down stocking an equal-parts bar so you don’t make the rookie mistake of buying more than you need to. Either stick within your budget with must-have ingredients like whiskey, amaro, and sweet vermouth, or expand your drink repertoire with the nice-to-have stuff like mezcal, Cynar and sherry.
There are even easy recipes for brandying your own cherries, as well as batching bottled cocktails and punch bowls for a party.
Even though the book is written in such an easy-to-follow way for beginner home bartenders, those who’ve long established themselves as the consummate host will continue to refer to it for years. Plus it’s beautiful enough to sit on your coffee table.