Since starting to write about my own experiments with cocktails, a lot of friends have asked me how to get started. So here are my personal recommendations for books, tools, and ingredients if you’re bootstrapping your own cocktail experience. These recommendations reflect my own journey with cocktails, minus a few missteps and tangents along the way. My plan is to keep this post up to date if I change my recommendations over time, so hopefully, it will be a useful evergreen source.

This week, I want to write about a cocktail that’s still fresh on my mind. To celebrate the 4th of July this year, my roommates and I decided to make something as American as apple pie. Well, we made something with apples: The Granny Smith, from The Aviary Cocktail Book.

The ingredients for The Granny Smith

Alright, let’s see if we can’t get some momentum going here. For the time being, I’m going to stick with the cocktail theme (although I do think I’ll get back to computers eventually). And while I do have some other big ideas like my post on essential oils, I’m going to try and space them out a bit so I don’t feel pressured to have something great every time I update. What better way to keep things lightweight than adapting content I’ve already written?

I got a copy of the stunningly beautiful Aviary Cocktail Book in 2018, shortly after it was released. It’s definitely a bit of an odd duck. While it’s pitched and structured as a recipe book, it seems somewhat clear that they don’t quite expect mere mortals like us to be able to make all of it. Out of 118 cocktails, I counted 6 different recipes that call for a rotary vacuum distiller. Two that call for a centrifuge (and more designed for a centrifuge, even if edited to not require it). It feels as much like a coffee table book as a cookbook. I think it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll ever make it all the way through the Aviary Cocktail Book, but the drinks I have made have been unique, inspiring, informative, and fun.

(As an aside, if you’re interested in some unique cocktails that don’t require a full home chemistry lab, I do definitely recommend the Aviary books of Holiday and Summer Cocktails. They’re accessible in a way the first book isn’t. My roommate Jeremy and I made 16 different holiday cocktails as part of our “adventinis”—an advent calendar of pandemic quarantine cocktails we did during the 2020 holiday season. I may write more about them later here, but in the meantime, my commentary is on Twitter.)

In total, to date, I’ve made either 7 or 9 cocktails out of The Aviary Cocktail Book, depending on how you count (one of them was a 3-glass flight of related drinks). I took notes as I made them, which seems like it should translate well to blog post content.

If I was staying truer to the blog format, I’d probably go in chronological order. But instead, I want to start with the cocktail that is currently my single all-time favorite cocktail I’ve ever had: the Mad World.

A photo of the Mad World in a double old fashioned glass, in front of the recipe from the Aviary Cocktail Book

In 2016, I reset my personal website and promised to write more frequently. At the time, it had been over 6 years since my last blog post. Well, it’s only been about 4½ years since I put that post up, so I’m exceeding my expectations! However, I also set a goal of putting out more content with less polish, and I’ve learned that I have a really tough time with unpolished content, at least when it comes to computer topics.

(Also, I almost started a post last October, but at some point in the last 4+ years a Hugo upgrade broke the theme that I was using, so I had to figure out how to fix that. Classic.)

So instead, I’m going to get things going with something completely different: cocktails! I’ve built up (with my roommates) a…passing interest in cocktails over the last 5 years…

A photo of our home bar, with 10 mostly-full shelves and 150-200 different bottles of spirits, liqueurs, and other cocktail ingredients

…and, well, now I have some opinions about making high-quality drinks in a home environment. I’ve figured out some tricks that I think are pretty cool, and that I haven’t seen anywhere else (I think because most people writing about cocktails work primarily in a commercial, high-throughput environment). If we’re lucky, this will be a series. But first up, I want to talk about garnishing drinks at home.

New Blog

After letting my blog (and personal site) sit dormant for 6 years, it seemed like it was time to rethink things.