Here comes the Sixth book of Jeffrey “Beachbum” Berry. A few months ago we reviewed Beachbum Berry Remixed, full of recipes, fun facts and Tiki advice. The Tiki master comes back with a story-driven book still with recipes that played a role in the exotic -read Caribbean/tiki- cocktail history. Eighteen years now from the Grog Log, published in 1998, is Potions of the Caribbean the Beachbum masterpiece ?
I admit that I had a tough time getting into the book… I blame my lack of interest for “ancient” anthropology… Probably because we know little about the period of time where… there was no rum !
The fifty first pages bring us back five hundred years ago with distillation techniques that didn’t exist at the time on these continents. Non-alcoholic beverages and that beer-y from that time together with ingredients nowhere to be found except maybe in your Asian district on a night of full moon.
Acceleration & joy
We are then taken by surprise, a few pages further, binge reading entire chapters, feeling that we are becoming part of the book and the fellow characters.
Beachbum feels on ease with every writing styles, telling beautiful stories, digging secrets well kept, make you laugh… After tons of cocktail books read, you can trust me when I say that this is uncommon.
The sorting of the chapters are well thought. Every historical recipe -pina colada, frozen daiquiri…- is brought with suspens. The reader slowly guesses what recipe the “Bum” talks about, introducing splendid characters, unknown, famous or infamous. Most of the time you get instantly teleported, back in time and space, everything is well described and you get the sensation to learn intimate facts about the.
More than an alcohol-driven book, Potions of the Caribbean get us drunk thanks to these wonderful stories all around the world.
Have a drink with old chaps
We then get the feeling to be part of the crew, in the middle with Papa Hemingway and Constante Ribalaigua Vert, grumbling against Errol Flynn’s behavior for instance. We then realise that many stories are imbricated.
Hemingway’s work would had been the same without the Daïquiris of the talentuous Constante Ribalaïgua Vert ? Would Joe Schialom had played this significant role in the cocktail rise if he hadn’t got expulsed from Cairo ? This book is definitely easy to read and fun !
Pics or didn’t happen!
More than just words, Jeffrey Berry supplies tons of artworks, old menus, postal cards of a time past. It is a tremendous work that is as interesting as the written part !
More than just depicting characters and Time capsules, Jeffrey acts as a Tiki expert and master of the cocktail balance. He analyses cocktail success regarding the habits of the consumers. The book is up to date and the guy does some fan service with granting us a maximum of details about the Mai Tai, the Zombie and the Pina Colada for instance -despite he doesn’t like the last one “a blend a sweet and strong”-.
A must have, funs facts and stories imbricated like pieces of a puzzle. A great complicity builds itself between the writer, the reader and the characters. We feel that what we are reading is worth gold, like if all the answers to the universe could be found in this book.
Golden Glove Cocktail by Constante Ribalaïgua Vert.
– 2oz of Gold jamaican rum (Appleton VX for instance)
– 0,5 oz of lime juice
– 1 barspoon of cointreau liquor
– 1 barspoon of white powdered sugar
– A little bit more than a cup of crushed ice.
Stir well the ingredients to make the powdered sugar blend well with the rest. Put everything in a blender, let it do the magic during 20 seconds. Serve the cocktail in a -tall- Martini glass. Place an orange peel at the top.
Constante Ribalaïgua Vert and Ernest Hemingway were two noble art fans. The recipe is from before 1935.
Golden Glove is a pumped-up version of the Daïquiri number 2 calling for orange aromas and a lighter rum -cuban-.
Sol Y Sombra Cocktail by Joe Schialom en 1957 at Caribe Hilton
– 1,5 oz of Gold porto rican rum.
– ¾ oz jamaican old rum, appleton 12yo or Smith & Cross for a kick
– 0,5 oz apricot liquor -the Bitter Truth makes a good one-
– 2 oz fresh pineapple juice
– 0,5 oz lime juice
– 2 dashes angostura bitter
Shake the ingredients with ice cubes then serve unstrained in a tiny carved pineapple.