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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lager Library: Classic Cocktails: A Modern Shake

The cocktails have found their way into art, literature and film. In Mark Kingwell’s new book Classic Cocktails: A Modern Shake the influence of the cocktail in today’s culture is clear.

In chapters named after drinks like the Gimlet, Kir Royale, Zombie and Gibson, Kingwell reminds us that fictional characters from detectives to advertising executives become a whole bunch more interesting as the cocktail count goes up. In some cases the cocktail is a metaphor and in others it is a device to bring two characters together. Seldom is a drink just a drink.

Classic Cocktails is well written and short, punchy chapters that go down as smoothly as a well made Martini. It is one of those books to keep on a table next to your favorite chair or in your game room for friends to pick up and enjoy.

Kingwell, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, rolls through the tale of the mixed drink you as you enjoy the smart design and illustrations by Seth (Gregory Gallant). It is published by Thomas Dunne Books (Hard cover, $19.95, 240 pgs.).

If you think this work gives too much credit to the cocktail, Kingwell advises readers in his introduction: “This book is not for you if you think drinking in the afternoon is wrong, or if the thought of dealing with a hangover by mixing a stinger is repugnant.” Classic Cocktails message is clear: be proud and raise your glass.

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