I read an interesting article the other day on the Los Angeles Times website, about how clear spirits are the trend in Southern California at the moment. The article talks about ‘light drinks for sunny days, meant to refresh’ and goes on to say that ‘clear spirits often get the job done better than the dark stuff’. While I totally agree with much of what the article says, especially about treating these clear spirits with a delicate touch to stop them from being overpowered by other ingredients, it also got me thinking about how we often unfairly compartmentalise spirits to be for a certain occasion or time of year. So below are a few thoughts I have about not forgetting ‘the dark stuff’ when it comes to summer drinking.
I should start by saying that I love white Rum, Gin, blanco Tequila, and am even slowly growing fonder of Vodka. But having said that I’m often drawn to the complexities of dark spirits as a base for cocktails as well as for sipping neat. When the sun is shining I’ll admit that a Daiquiri, Margarita or Caipirinha are great thirst quenchers, or that a refreshing Collins can be hard to beat. But likewise there are some pretty amazing dark spirit drinks that fulfil the same role for me. A Mai Tai, Mint Julep or even a Whiskey Sour are pretty remarkable summertime cocktails.
It’s not every day you get to sit down with the author of one of your all time favourite cocktail books and have a chat, so when the kind folks at Courvoisier invited me to meet David Wondrich, I jumped at the chance! He was in London as their guest as part of their ongoing association with punch, which of course is the title of his most recent book. Now I’m sure that most people when offered an interview with an author and drinks historian do their homework and prepare a detailed list of questions… I however took a different approach. I arrived unprepared and decided just to see where the conversation led.
So below you won’t find an interview as such, but more of a collection of thoughts and quotes from a very pleasant morning spent chatting about everything from ploughing fields with oxen, to drinking ether. But let me start with a little background about Mr Wondrich and how he came to be a cocktail historian and author. Unsurprisingly this was not a chosen career path but more of a direction that life happened to take him in.