Monday, 15 November 2010
2010 may well be seen as the year that absinthe moved from niche towards (and maybe into) the mainstream. In the USA, competition has stepped up with more companies and brands seeming to get serious about the category, while outside the US more high quality brands have been moving into some new markets.
The growing popularity of good absinthes has been mirrored in the publication of three new absinthe books in the USA. I reviewed The Little Green Book of Absinthe (and the Swiss publication, the Absinthe Cocktail Guide) in March. Then I reviewed A Taste for Absinthe in September. And now, Absinthe Cocktails from Imbibe USA's Kate Simon has been published, this time in both the USA and in the UK.
There are strong similarities between this latest book and Guthrie's A Taste for Absinthe. Both books combine classic cocktails with modern creations. Both books feature cocktails made by many well-known mixologists: Simon includes several cocktails made by some of Europe's mixologists too. As an example, Ales Olasz (who I met last year at London's Montgomery Place) makes a great Reverse Sazerac Sour:
Both books are beautifully photographed: I love this photo from Simon's book showing the Attention as made by Seattle's Jamie Boudreau:
Both books contain an Absinthe Buyers' Guide (as did the Little Green Book of Absinthe). It is very interesting to note that just four absinthes are recommended in all three US guides: La Clandestine and Kübler from Switzerland, Lucid from France, and Obsello (hitherto produced in Spain). Even more interesting to note that Simon's book completely leaves out of her recommendations some of the "absinthes" that were heavily featured in Nathan's Little Green Book. It seeems that the quality message is getting through! And Kate Simon also includes a useful guide to "How to go green without going broke," noting that you could make all 50 cocktails in her book with just one bottle of absinthe.
Absinthe Cocktails and A Taste for Absinthe are clearly the best absinthe cocktail books on the market. I can see A Taste for Absinthe as being a great coffee table book, but it's almost too nice to put too close to the worktop when you're preparing a cocktail. Absinthe Cocktails is more compact and you could take it out with you when bar-hopping. I can imagine going into a bar, pointing at a photo, and saying, "I'll have one of these, please!"
Absinthe Cocktails: 50 ways to mix with the Green Fairy by Kate Simon, is published in the UK by Chronicle at £12.99. All the books mentioned (except for the Swiss book) are available from the major online sellers in both USA and UK. A Taste for Absinthe tends to be more expensive in line with its coffee table appearance; The Litte Green Book is now much cheaper than the others and is also available for the Kindle. Absinthe Cocktails is keenly priced between these two and represents very good value for money, whether you are a long-term absinthe drinker or an absinthe virgin.
It's coming to the end of the working day as I write this ... what better way to mark that than with this from Simon's book: the My Oh My Ty from Brian Miller at Death and Company in New York:
Nice book, Kate! Santé to you and to all those who contributed to it!
* The Real Absinthe Blog wants you to savour your absinthe(s) and to drink responsibly at all times. Good absinthe is made to be savoured and enjoyed ... just like these books!