By Leigh O’Connor.
"Thanks to the internet, bartenders around the world can easily share knowledge and inspiration – and now it is perfectly possible to find an expertly crafted cocktail nearly anywhere you’d care to look.” – Chad Parkhill.
Travel has always been part of the cocktail’s DNA – born in England and raised in America, the cocktail takes influences from all over the world and mixes them into exciting new combinations.
Exploring the cosmopolitan nature of these delicious drinks, Chad Parkhill traces their journey around the globe from the early 19th Century to the present day in this collection of recipes, all illustrated in art deco style.
A writer and bartender based in Melbourne, ‘Around the World in 80 Cocktails’ is Chad’s first book and as well as delving into the origins of favourite tipples, he offers advice on ingredients, equipment and techniques to serving the perfect drink.
As travel has expanded our horizons and made the world a smaller place to navigate, cocktails and mixed spirits have become more diverse with bartenders everywhere now slinging drinks made from ingredients as different as Mexican tequila, Norwegian aquavit, Peruvian pisco and Japanese sake.
The cocktail grew up in the United States in the 1800s, making a few sorties out into the wider world where it was greeted with unbridled enthusiasm and wonderment. At the 1867 Exposition in Paris, an American bar went through more than 500 bottles of sherry a day as Parisians developed a taste for Sherry Cobblers.
While in the States, at the height of his career legendary, cocktail bartender Jerry Thomas was earning more than the vice-president.
Prohibition pushed the cocktail out of its comfort zone as travelling Americans quenched their thirst in Europe and unemployed bartenders realised lucrative careers awaited in all corners of the globe. By the time Prohibition was repealed in the 1930s, cocktails ruled the drinking scene.
As recipes took new directions, so did the names of each concoction. Who can forget the Sex on the Beach, Between the Sheets or Death in the Afternoon, all offering the opportunity for innuendos when ordering in a crowded bar.
Each cocktail in this collaboration is linked to a place such as the Bird of Paradise from Colon in Panama. This town had a reputation for squalor and lawlessness from the moment it became a terminus in the Panama railroad, through which gold miners would pass on their way to California.
The miners brought their vices with them and Colon happily catered to them, creating Bottle Alley – an infamous stretch of mud where Americans consorted with prostitutes and got loaded. When construction began on the Panama Canal, expat Americans went looking for a more permanent local hangout and The Stranger’s Club – Colon’s first cocktail bar – was born.
One of the exotic libations whipped up at the club was the Bird of Paradise, essentially a New Orleans gin fizz with raspberry syrup, designed as a refreshing drink to beat the equatorial heat. With a hit of cream and pink hue it carries a whiff of the tropical decadence and corruption Colon was infamous for.
Strolling into a hip bar in Los Angeles in the 1970s and ordering a martini meant getting a cocktail very long on vodka. When Dean Martin walked into Beverly Hills hotspot Chasen’s and asked his bartender Pepe Ruiz to come up with something new, the Flame of Love Martini was the result.
Pepe’s take on the popular drink – a stirred vodka martini served in a sherry-rinsed glass – seems like nothing special, until you get to the garnish, a whole orange peel that is flamed over the glass, loading the cocktail with caramelised orange oils and making a great show for guests.
Frank Sinatra was so enamoured by the Flame of Love, he bought 52 of them for his guests when holding one of his birthday parties at Chasen’s.
The Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands is about as close to beach bar paradise as you can get – pure white sand with a palm tree fringe for shade and crystal clear azure waters.
There is only one problem, there is no jetty to moor a boat, meaning to get a drink from the bar you have to swim to shore, hence the name Soggy Dollar. Invented by bar staff in 1971, the Painkiller originally called for a mixture of different rums combined with pineapple and orange juice and coconut cream.
The now-classic recipe uses Pusser’s rum, after the company sought Soggy Dollar’s permission to trademark the Painkiller name. If you can’t find Pusser’s, the cocktail can be made with any other fragrant dark rum such as Jamaican – just don’t call the drink a Painkiller!
The stories behind each recipe in this book make it an interesting insight into the land of cocktails and the people who drink them. With this collection, you can drink your way around the world without leaving your home bar, bringing out the inner bartender in all of us.
This is an edited extract from Around the World in 80 Cocktails by Chad Parkhill with illustrations by Alice Oehr published by Hardie Grant Books $29.99 and is available in stores nationally. Illustrator: © Alice Oehr. Purchase here.