We are now publishing cocktails as well as books. On Twitter and Instagram, we have posted pictures and recipes for two new cocktails, with more to follow. Each is designed to match one of our titles. Let me give you a hint at the process of making them that played out behind the scenes.
Everyone seems to love an artistically framed picture of a drink. People also like a well-designed book, staged to hint at the lifestyle that might suddenly be yours if only you bought it. So, we hatched the idea to create cocktails that gave a sense of each of our titles, and then staged photographs in which the cocktail and the book could be seen and hint at a moment in which both were enjoyed.
It wouldn’t have been enough to just trawl a few cocktail books and find drinks that resonated. A sense of bespoke intention, in which perfection is pursued even in the face of practical obstacles, must drive these drinks, for that is what drives our publishing.
Of course, it is not enough just to devise a cocktail that has a link to one of our titles. The cocktail must pass muster. To test this, the office team came together to try out each cocktail before staging a photo-shoot. What better way to end a week than discussing books over a few drinks?
Now I will not bore you by detailing the development of each and every drink we share but I will give you a sense of the process by explaining how I created the first two cocktails featured. If you are interested in the thought process behind any of our drinks do give us shout on Twitter, send us an email, or even write us a letter.
For Logomotive: Railroad Graphics and the American Dream I started by researching train-related cocktails. As I was flicking through The Savoy Cocktail Book, first published in 1930 – chosen for the sense of glamour associated with that period – I saw the Blue Train. It is named after the famous train that ran down from Calais to the Riviera in the ‘30s and so it felt like an apt place to start when creating a cocktail for our book focusing on train-related design.
You can imagine the Fitzgeralds sipping cocktails as they rode The Blue Train out of Paris. To fit the aesthetics of Logomotive’s red and yellow cover, I swapped that sea-blue lustre of the original cocktail for a bold red, and to give a better sense of the size and ambition of American railroads I thought gin would not work. Instead, I turned to white whiskey with its slightly rough charm and sense of potential. This also helped to move the drink that touch further from both the Blue Train and its parent drink, the White Lady.
However, this did slightly unbalance the drink and so a dash of extra sweetener in the form of sugar syrup was called for. Of course, unlike the precision of railroad design, cocktails are mutable and the sweetness depends on the lemon used. The sugar levels can be tweaked for each occasion.
Coming up with a cocktail for Wild Italy was slightly harder as I could not fall back on a pre-existing, railway-associated drink. Instead, I thought of trying to capture that moment as the sun starts to sink and the air cools in preparation for a relaxed evening after a day of exertion.
This reminded me of a time drinking refreshingly bitter Americanos before dinner, as I looked down towards Arezzo in the dappled shade of a tree, with a dozing cat for company. But a straightforward Americano would not suit a book of such detail nor capture the wildness of Italy, as it is a drink for cafés and neat patios.
A little complexity, and herbal wildness was needed. I initially thought of using a dash of nocino, to give a hint of that medicinal touch the air gets under a sunned walnut tree, or fig leaf liqueur for the almost coconutty richness of fresh fig leaves rubbed between your fingers. However, these conjured images of specific places, and would not work to reflect a whole country. Strega with its potion-like potency had hints of those other flavours but as a beguiling interplay rather than clarion-like notes of a single memory.
In making these drinks we enjoyed ourselves, but also, we had an opportunity to sit together and informally discuss what our drinks should be named to reflect our titles. It was also a chance to dig into the heart of our titles, as a good cocktail needs to be based on an in-depth understanding of its source material. What could be better than a moment or two to unwind with books and drinks?