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THE COOKBOOK ISSUE / WINE & SPIRITS

A crisp, mouth-watering, complex guide

Master Sommelier Vincent Gasnier boldly tackles the wide world of alcoholic beverages.

November 02, 2005|Leslie Brenner | Times Staff Writer

The cocktail recipes themselves follow the same conceit as the wine section. They're divided into "sour and tangy," "sweet, rich and creamy" and "dry, fruity and fresh." All the classics are there, good versions, too, along with some terrific lesser-known cocktails. Anyone for a Brooklyn? It's difficult to discern the provenance of many of them -- did he create them? Are they new or just obscure? In any case, most of them sound delicious.

The beer section is organized much like the wine section. Up front is a nifty four-page chart explaining the different styles; an excellent explanation of how to taste beer and what to look for follows.

International in scope, this section may be less-than-thrilling to American beer aficionados, who may not find their favorite microbrew mentioned, but at least Gasnier includes a number of them from around the U.S. Though the section isn't as fresh and indispensable as the wine section is, there are lots of great discoveries here too.

Finally, a very short (12-page) section on cider serves as a fascinating postscript. As Gasnier writes, the fermented apple beverage "has revived itself as a drink for a new generation."

He talks about the balance of sugar, bitterness and acidity, concluding that "the results are often quite stunning, with some of the best brands even being comparable to Champagne." Examples from England, France, the U.S. and Australia follow.

It's a curious way to end such an encyclopedic book.

But how nice to be left with that lovely, apple-y finish.

*

Alcazar

Total time: 2 minutes

Servings: 1

Note: From "Drinks" by Vincent Gasnier.

1 ounce Canadian Club

whiskey

1/3 ounce Benedictine

2/3 ounce half-and-half

Place a few cubes of ice in a tumbler. Pour in the whiskey and Benedictine and stir. Place the tip of a bar spoon in the liquid and gently pour the cream over to create a layer. Alternatively, dispense with the layering and simply stir all the ingredients together.

Each serving: 144 calories; 1 gram protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 13 mg. cholesterol; 8 mg. sodium.

*

Brooklyn

Total time: 2 minutes

Servings: 1

Note: From "Drinks" by Vincent Gasnier.

1/2 ounce rye whiskey

1/2 ounce sweet red vermouth

1/2 ounce Campari

Place some ice in a mixing glass. Pour in the whiskey, vermouth and Campari. Stir and strain into a martini glass.

Each serving: 95 calories; 0 protein; 6 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 1 mg. sodium.

*

Champs-Elysees

Total time: 2 minutes

Servings: 1

Note: From "Drinks" by Vincent Gasnier.

1 ounce Cognac

1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse

liqueur

1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Fill a mixing glass with crushed ice and pour in the ingredients. Stir and strain into a chilled martini glass. Alternatively, mix the drink in a brandy glass and serve over ice.

Each serving: 126 calories; 0 protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 1 mg. sodium.

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