“Handcrafted Cocktails: The Mixologist’s Guide to Classic Drinks for Morning Noon & Night” is the new, lengthy-titled tome from Molly Wellmann, a Cincinnati-based bartender, bar owner and general cocktail aficionado. Like every cocktail book ever, it begins with an introduction to bar basics, including bartending tools and techniques, as well as a breakdown of spirit categories, liqueurs, bitters and more. But after that, it gets interesting.
Rather than segmenting the book by spirit or era or recipe template, “Handcrafted Cocktails” takes the unique approach of categorizing cocktails by the time of day in which they’re best enjoyed. So we’ve got: morning, afternoon, happy hour, dinner and after-dinner. It’s a useful approach, really, in part because it gives inspiration for a whole slew of breakfast cocktails. But also because it offers a unique perspective on why one drink is better served as an eye-opener than a nightcap.
Throughout each section, drinks vary from classics (the Seelbach, Sherry Cobbler, Algonquin) to some of Molly’s original concoctions. One such drink, the Green Lantern, combines tequila with pineapple juice, cilantro, mint and jalapeno for a healthy shot in the arm on a particularly bleary morning.
Moving toward afternoon drinks you’ve got staples like the Mint Julep and Tom Collins, two refreshing options to thwart a warm day. Dinner-time drinks look to whiskey in cocktails like the Remember the Maine (which, we can confirm, tastes great with a steak), and they call for gin in classic, appetite-stimulating drinks like the Negroni. No arguments here.
After-dinner drinks include things like an Apple Butter Toddy and a Rusty Nail, as well as the lush Hanky Panky, which combines gin and sweet vermouth with Fernet.
All in all, “Handcrafted Cocktails” is a solid read. The author breaks up the recipes with some historical background on particular drinks and a handful of personal anecdotes for an easy read from start to finish. Plus, we’re anxious to make our way through all these breakfast drinks. Anything in the name of research.
The hardcover “Handcrafted Cocktails” is available on Amazon for about $17.