As great as cocktail blogs are as a resource for learning, there are some things that are best learnt in video rather than text form. Robert Hess’ The Cocktail Spirit is an excellent recent attempt at a video-based cocktail resource, and Youtube has a plethora of cocktail tutorials, some good, the vast majority very bad. Aside from these though there isn’t a great deal around for those wanting to watch rather than read about cocktails.
Which is where Tony Abou-Ganim steps in, with “Modern Mixology: Making Great Cocktails at Home“. Tony began bar-tending in 1980, and since then has, amongst many other things, designed the spirits and cocktail program for the Bellagio in Las Vegas, as well at writing for many magazines and appearing in numerous radio and TV shows. This DVD, I believe his first, is a very slickly produced introduction to classic cocktail recipes and how to go about making them at home.
The DVD starts with an excellent tutorial describing the equipment every home bar should have and how to use it, including a montage of Tony shaking his boston shaker like crazy – something I always like to see a barman do. This is followed by a summary of fresh ingredients and how to go about cutting fruits and preparing garnishes. Describing how to cut a lime or create a twist isn’t easy in words, so seeing it done by a pro like Tony really works well.
The remainder of the DVD consists of Tony mixing up 20 different classic cocktails. Each drink is made in a separate scene, which usually begins with some background on the cocktail and ingredients, followed by the creation of the drink itself, with tips and techniques covered along the way. Tony is very passionate about the subject of cocktails, and clearly knows what he is talking about. He does a few things I disagree with, like muddling a maraschino cherry in his Old Fashioned, but these are minor quibbles and in all honesty, who I am to argue with someone who’s been working as a bartender for longer than I’ve been alive!
Anyone who’s been making cocktails for a while probably won’t learn that much new, but for beginners this DVD comes highly recommended. It provides an excellent overview of the techniques used in making cocktails, and even offers some starting advice for those seeking to mix up their own creations. I only wish I’d have had access something like this when I was getting started in cocktails – it would have saved me a lot of time and bad cocktails!
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