Usually, standing in line at the grocery store is a drag. I mean sure, it's fun to catch up on celebrity headlines but I tend to save that for the stack of magazines at Kim's Sandwich Shop when I'm waiting for an avocado smoothie (yes, an avocado smoothie. I thought it sounded weird too when I first heard about it. But it's not weird, it's delicious).
Once a year, however, the grocery store checkout line holds a surprise...Food & Wine's annual cocktail book. These books are great. I first started buying them a few years ago and older issues are something I still keep an eye out for when looking through used books. They cover a fair amount of drink-making basics and highlight certain bars and trends but really, it's the recipes that make this book something I look forward to. These guides routinely feature a variety of classics but also drinks from well-known bars and bartenders around the country. Also, there's a lot of amazing glassware.
2014 marks the 10th anniversary of F&W's cocktail books and they've chosen to use it as an opportunity to highlight drinks from previous editions*. There's a ton of stuff I'm looking forward to trying. Heck, I may even have a go at making Aviary's Bloody Mary. First up though was Chris Hannah's Accoutrement.
The scent of apples starts the whole thing off. This runs into a sweet/tart flavor that has a candy-like quality. A delicious and complex candy, at once zippy and bright but also rich with oranges, apples and intriguing spices. The drink has a smooth texture that contrasts nicely with the citrus and bitters. As it warms, Strega's complex herbs begin to peak through more prominently. Creole Shrubb and Strega get along quite well and this pairing is something I look forward to experimenting with in the future.
Accoutrement - Chris Hannah, Arnaud's French 75 Bar, New Orleans
2 oz Calvados
1/2 Creole Shrubb (can sub Grand Marnier)
2 dashes Peychaud's
Garnish - 3 cherries
Shake, Strain, Up
*The format for these books changes every now and then. Often, drinks are grouped by base spirit. Of the handful that I have though, 2012 is the one I keep returning to. In that book each bartender gets a classic. There's a recipe for how they make that classic, then a recipe for a twist on it. This is followed by a drink further removed from the original, though still keeping true to that drink's feel. Many of them also feature non-alcoholic variations.