The Charles H Baker collection

Charles H Baker and Ernest Hemingway

Charles H Baker was a bon vivant, flaneur, writer and, I suspect, something of a chancer. He became famous for his hybrid travel and culinary/cocktail writings and is now mostly remembered for his collection of these articles, The Gentleman’s Companion.

This is currently not available online, so I’ve collated all the features, extracts and recipes referring to Baker, his books, articles and recipes that I could find. If you know of any other resources please add them to the comments below. Continue reading

Online books: Revenge of the Cocktail Nerds

My collection of vintage books (so far)

There’s been a trend in the last few years for bartenders to explore the roots of cocktail making and we drinkers are reaping the rewards. Home infusions and cordials are now ubiquitous and their natural, seasonal ingredients produce better flavoured and more imaginative drinks. Continue reading

Blue Ruin

A Blue Ruin Cocktail

The Aviation is one of my absolute favourite drinks. Strong, sharp with a hint of perfume that adds subtlety, it’s a drink I choose when I’m in need of some old school glamour. It’s also a fairly recent addition to my best drinks list. I first tried it two years ago at  Saf (a raw food vegan restaurant that randomly has a top notch bar ) and happily they used a version based on the one in ‘Recipes for mixed drinks’ by Hugo Ensslin (1916). I think I’m right in saying this is the earliest version to be found: Continue reading

Always a lady

A Blushing Lady cocktail

A good friend of mine is obsessed with Molly Keane’s novel Good Behaviour, about a decaying aristocratic family in the 30’s.  Not only does he talk about it constantly but he is working on a screen adaptation, likes to bathe in the heroine’s favourite bath essence (Rose and Geranium Floris) and lastly, and most importantly, drinks her favourite cocktail – a White Lady.

And I shall never be bored of hearing him talk about this book. It’s a searingly acerbic comedy of manners and well worth reading (strangely, every charity shop in the land seems to stock a copy – test it out) but ultimately it introduced me to my favourite sours cocktail and for that I shall be ever grateful. Particularly on a hot summers night after a long day. Continue reading

The perfect Martini

The Colony Room Club in Soho

In The Philadelphia Story, an inebriated Jimmy Stewart describes drinking whisky as a slap on the back and champagne as heavy mist before the eyes. In the same vein, I’ve always thought of a good Martini as having your socks pulled up. From your insides. Continue reading