03 October 2020

Weekend Cooking: The United States of Cocktails by Brian Bartels

Review of The United States of Cocktails by Brian BartelsIf you follow me on Instagram then you already know how much fun I've been having with Brian Bartels's The United States of Cocktails, which I received as part of the Abrams Dinner Party. We've made four cocktails so far and have really liked each one.

As you might guess from the title, the book is organized by state. Bartels introduces each state with a little history of its bars; its people, inventions, or events that have affected drinking in America; and little-known facts (cleverly called "Bar Snacks"). What follows are short descriptions of the state's iconic bars, beverages, spirits, and so on and then at least two recipes for cocktails either invented in that state or otherwise associated with it.

The big question among the Abrams Dinner Party members, was this: How are you planning on approaching The United States of Cocktails? Some ideas are to to start with the state you were born in, the state you currently live in, the states you hope to visit someday, and the states you love to visit. I picked drinks based on spirits I already owned, though we've also made note of the gaps in our liquor cabinet and plan to fill in over the coming months. It'd be fun to serve guests a cocktail that reflected something special in their lives (memorable vacation, college).

Review of The United States of CocktailsWe made the Willie Stargell--after all, we live in Pennsylvania (though Mr. BFR is not a Pirates fan, having grown up in the Philadelphia area). We also tried the Screaming Viking (from North Carolina), the Aquavit Bloody Mary (from Minnesota, see recipe below), and Colorado's Blackberry Sage Smash. We have several more cocktails marked to try, just as soon as I track down some missing ingredients (like liqueurs and orange bitters).

Although we're mostly wine drinkers, sometimes it's fun to shake up or stir a new cocktail. Brian Bartels's collection of drinks is a great resource for those of us who enjoy a well-balanced adult beverage. The United States of Cocktails gets two thumbs up from me.

Bartels Bloody Mary Mix
Review of The United States of CocktailsMakes about 32 ounces

  • 24 ounces tomato juice (I used Campbell's)
  • 2 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 ounces Tabasco chipotle sauce
  • 1 tablespoon steak sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive container. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Aquavit Bloody Mary
1 drink
  • 1 1/2 ounces aquavit (or gin, tequila, or mezcal)
  • 4 to 5 ounces Bartels Bloody Mary Mix
  • Garnishes: celery stick, lemon wedge, and olive or pickle
Combine spirit and mix in a chilled pint glass with ice, briefly stir, and add the garnishes.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


Mae Travels 10/3/20, 7:54 AM  

You seem to have found an appropriate way to pass the time in lockdown! (Assuming you haven't just decided to be sociable and damn the consequences, which we have a great example of why not.) We have found several shops that do curbside pickup for wine so we're doing that in our own way.

be well and keep drinking... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

rhapsodyinbooks 10/3/20, 8:00 AM  

I have been looking for a good Bloody Mary mix recipe to use for a grilled cheese dip, and this sounds perfect! Thanks for sharing it!

gluten Free A_Z Blog 10/3/20, 11:58 AM  

I am a wine drinker and mostly avoid cocktails because I seen to like the caloric ones best!This books sounds interesting and fun! Could make a nice gift!

Jackie McGuinness 10/3/20, 12:21 PM  

That's a fun way to spend some time. John is a scotch drinker and I am more of a wine drinker. I make John a dirty martini on Sunday nights.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 10/3/20, 1:01 PM  

I love a good bloody mary! Yum!

Vicki 10/3/20, 2:25 PM  

I don't drink but I have family & friends who do so this book could come in handy.

Susan @ The Book Bag 10/3/20, 6:29 PM  

Sounds yummy! I love a good Bloody Mary!!

Marg 10/4/20, 5:32 AM  

We are not really cocktail drinkers but this does sound like a fun way to pass lockdown!

Greg 10/6/20, 12:11 AM  

Ooh i like the sound of this. Being a Michigan person I'd be curious to see what the entries are for my state. And this "It'd be fun to serve guests a cocktail that reflected something special in their lives (memorable vacation, college)". Agreed!!!

The screaming Viking sounds fun. :)

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