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Old Hat or Avant-Garde? : A Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sippers That Show Off Your Reds, Whites, and Roses by A.J. Rathbun Review

  • Apr 5, 2010
I've seen this book offered for awhile, and because the subject seemed outdated I hesitated before finally selecting to review it. Wine cocktails seem to be from a forgotten era while the cover is reminiscent of the 1970's. However, I've read and enjoyed the concoctions within A.J. Rathbun's Dark Spirits so I decided to be adventurous.

Wine Cocktails is a 96 page book which provides 50 recipes using wine as a major ingredient. Once past the introductions and Wine Cocktail Basics, four chapters of enticing photos and tempting recipes follow then ends with a measurement equivalent chart. The recipe chapters cover reds and rosés, white wine, bubbly, and after dinner drinks. Recipes included well known cocktails such as Sangria and the Kir Royale, as well as lesser known libations like the Gong and Cabernet Crusta. Each recipe begins with a brief paragraph about the cocktail and is typically followed by a quote, notation, or both.

After thumbing through this book, I've determined I'm a bit of a wine snob. White wine seems suitable for mixing, while blending delicious reds and my beloved port into cocktails seem sacrilege. The images are beautifully photographed using 70s style props and are reminiscent of those found in gourmet magazines such as Bon Appétit. I'm not only faced with apprehensions of mixing wine cocktails, but these images make me wonder if I'm being asked to revive a long forgotten tradition. Some of the recipes are noted to come from books printed as far back as the mid 1800's, or more recently from the 40s and 50s. Perhaps this is A.J. Rathbun's creative intent, as he asks us in his introduction to have a little trust in him, recognize a long history of "mixing wine with other ingredients to make scrumptious drinks" and to "take advantage of these flavor minglings."

To retain my trust in A.J. Rathbun, I figured I should skip the whites and test the reds. The Bishop, a divine concoction including lemons, Cabernet Sauvignon and rum, appeared to be a mouth watering starting place. With the use of a muddler, shaker, and a strainer, I quickly shook up a few glasses. With my first sip, my apprehension quickly faded and I was an instant convert. Lady Macbeth was next on my list. The sparkling wine and port cocktail was tasty, but unlike the Bishop I don't look forward to making it again.

A.J. Rathburn has written another interesting cocktail recipe book. Most of the recipes appear to be refreshing poolside cocktails, and require ingredients found in a well stocked bar. Mixing with cheap wines is not advised, and I would agree. If you wouldn't drink the wine on its own, it won't taste better as a cocktail. At the same time, it's not necessary to purchase expensive bottles of wine either. If you are open to a little adventure, give this book and its recipes a chance. I'm confident you will find some new favorites.

Beautifully photographed images
Delicious recipes
Uses ingredients found in a well stocked bar

The book and material feel dated

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More Wine Cocktails: 50 Stylish Sip... reviews
review by . May 12, 2010
I'm no wine connoisseur but I do drink a fair bit of wine (Cabs and Merlots mostly). Wines are relatively low cal, and in moderation, they're supposed to be good for you (especially the reds)! I admit, however, that hitherto I had been a wine cocktail virgin. I don't think I had so much as used the words "wine" and "cocktail" in the same sentence. Hmm... "wine cocktails"... Really? After I received this book, I tried out a simple recipe from the book that uses Cabernet Sauvignon, Rum, Lemons, and …
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About this book


Wine cocktails have long been a part of the cocktail culture in Europe, and in this 50-recipe, full-color book, cocktail connoisseur A.J. Rathbun shows Americans how easy it is to create memorable cocktails with more than just Champagne. Recipes make use of the many wine varietals, liquors, liqueurs, and fresh fruits and other mixers that have become readily available in recent years to make such drinks as Aloha Punch, Blue Train, Sake'd Saint, Whistling Orange, and Cactus Berry-unique and delicious alternatives to the conventional cocktail!
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ISBN-10: 1558324070
ISBN-13: 978-1558324077
Author: A.J. Rathbun
Publisher: Harvard Common Press

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