Review | IndieReader gives CO Specs a 5 Star rating
The IndieReader gives CO Specs a 5 out of 5, and an 'IndieReader Approved' badge. Read their full review of the book...
"More than just the run-of-the-mill bartender’s guide, CO-SPECS, RECIPES & HISTORIES OF CLASSIC COCKTAILS is handsomely hardbound and designed with a distinct Art Deco sensibility and serves as an A to Z compendium of recipes, notable homages, trivia and other minutia about each storied beverage, and serves as a stylishly packaged gift book for the cocktail aficionado and the teetotaler alike.
When a lost cocktail-specifications book necessitates that bartender Cas Oh begin researching drink recipes in order to compile himself a replacement book, he finds enough source material to not only replace his spec book but to produce the handsome encyclopedic cocktail guide that became CO-SPECS. So he explains in the books intro, continuing that he wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming amount of history and lore and cultural relevance that was available about these seemingly simple combinations of potable liquids. This essentially validates Oh’s work here because as a culture we seem to value our intoxicants and as such we readily preserve their stories and their lore in books like this. Oh does set the record straight that, although CO-SPECS does list ingredients and glassware and garnish and step by step prep for each drink, it is not a handbook for the novice bartender, one that will “teach to muddle”. Rather, he hopes it will serve as a detailed compendium that will enhance and enliven the scope of experience of both the seasoned bartender and the minor-league mixologist.
While telling the reader what the book isn’t, Oh fails to mention something else that it definitely is — a sculpted piece of art. Even before getting to the aforementioned introduction the reader is witness to the bold art deco cover, the front board college of vintage cocktail recipes on their original matrices, and the frontleaf collage of vintage co-spec books, all pointing to the fact that the book is meant to be as visually appealing as it is so textually. This artistic bent continues throughout the book, and includes classic advertisements, vintage posters and paintings, and historic photos that tie directly into the cocktail history. Not only do these inclusions create in CO-SPECS a slyly self-referential piece of art, but they also soften any heavy handedness of the copiously researched subject material, essentially letting this read as an encyclopedia without being encyclopedic. As expected the research results for each select cocktail includes the drink’s origin story, evolution over time, and alcoholic make-up, but also pop culture citations, famous places associated with certain drinks, and notable famous imbibers of particular beverages. Recipes are clearly limned out, with any popular regional and epochal variations given due mention. When research showed more substantial recipe variations, those in use at the drink’s height of popularity are manifest as canon.
The range and variety of the drinks given this encyclopedic treatment runs the gamut from classics like the martini, the gibson and the old fashioned, to selections as modern as the Belafonte, named after Bill Murry’s vessel in the 2004 movie “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”. Even more recent are the three cocktails of Oh’s own creation which he shamelessly admits to including in the roster and subsequently affording the full treatment. But with all the research into the cocktail culture he’s done and all the work to present the fruits of his chosen profession in such a rich and storied light, he can definitely be forgiven for this little bit of mixological self-promotion.
More than just the run-of-the-mill bartender’s guide, CO-SPECS, RECIPES & HISTORIES OF CLASSIC COCKTAILS is handsomely hardbound and designed with a distinct Art Deco sensibility and serves as an A to Z compendium of recipes, notable homages, trivia and other minutia about each storied beverage, and serves as a stylishly packaged gift book for the cocktail aficionado and the teetotaler alike."
~ Johnny Masiulewicz for Indie Reader