It was a visit to the bookstore (remember those?) that prompted two longtime beverage professionals to write and publish what we’re calling the year’s Best New Cocktail Book.
Livio Lauro, Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada’s senior director of key accounts, and Armando Rosario, Southern’s director of mixology in Orlando, Florida, perused multiple bookstores before finally putting pen to paper. “We noticed that the cocktail book scene has become an interesting story: 500 recipes, 700 recipes, 800 recipes, 1,000 recipes, 2,000 recipes—the more the better,” Lauro says. So rather than contribute a tome boasting 2,001 recipes, they did the next logical thing: The Twelve Cocktails Everyone Needs to Know ($15, TwelveCocktails.com).
“The way people are teaching cocktails is not conducive to learning,” Lauro says. “In some books, cocktails are classified by their base spirit, which means that a gin and tonic and a White Lady are the same drink. But they could not be more different. In other books, drinks are classified by how they are consumed: with the meal, pre-dinner, after dinner … And then we have a much more articulate, historical way of categorizing drinks: the fizzes, the fixes, the daisies—cocktails that don’t exist any more. So Armando and I felt that we needed [to write] something anyone could read and say, ‘I get it!’”
They are definitely getting it. The Twelve Cocktails officially dropped on October 5, and the book’s first run of 5,000 copies, Lauro points out, has already sold out as leaders from various corners of the beverage and hospitality world have been quick to fold the guide into their lesson plans.
Paul Femia, who teaches beverage classes at Unite Here Local 165, Vegas’ bartenders’ union, was among the first to make The Twelve Cocktails required reading for his students. “Now when you sign up for the union,” Lauro says, “you get flashcards, a binder, a wine book and this book.” Already, two UNLV lecturers, Todd Uglow (the book’s editor) and Mohsen Azizsoltani, have adopted the book for their classes in catering and bar management, respectively. Even Francesco Lafranconi, executive director of the prestigious Southern Wine & Spirits Academy of Spirits & Fine Service, has incorporated the book into his curriculum.
Here’s how it works: The recipe for a popular cocktail is used to demonstrate a basic mixology technique. Now you know one fundamental technique and a drink you can make with it. “If you learn how to make these 12,” Lauro says, “you’ve learned every technique out there, and you’ve learned how to make every cocktail out there.” OK, maybe that’s oversimplifying a tad, but take, for example, the Cosmopolitan, the king of cocktails that are shaken, strained and served up. Master those moves and you can swap out ingredients to access the Cosmo’s predecessors including the Side Car, Brandy Crusta and countless drinks both classical and modern. The same goes for anything muddled, or built on the rocks, or stirred. You’ll even have a template for creating original recipes. For a new professional or aspiring home bartender, this is the starting line and the authors are your coaches. Additionally, esteemed chef Emeril Lagasse penned the introduction, and sales of the book benefit Keep Memory Alive, “because so much of this is rooted in memory,” Lauro says.
It’s worth noting that this is neither author’s first foray into the subject. The book actually sprung from an earlier project, the Mixing Map, which Lauro and Rosario began in 2012 and intend to launch in the second half of 2016. The washable bar-top “map” comes with every tool of the trade in a kit they’re calling Bar Anywhere. Also in the works are Italian and Portuguese translations of The Twelve Cocktails and an organic edition, as well as a follow-up book. Naturally, it’s called Twelve to 1,200.