Annette Joseph clearly loves Italy, but her book Cocktail Italiano isn’t just about drinking your way across the country. In fact, to be honest, cocktails occupy comparably few of the pages here. Most of the book — dense with full-color photography and divided into 12 chapters, each for one city or region along the Italian Riviera — is filled with food recipes, plus brief introductions to the highlights that locale has to offer.
In focusing in on the cocktails, I have to say I was surprised from the start. The first drink recipes in the book are for a cosmopolitan and a mojito, neither cocktails I would think of traveling all the way to Italy to consume. Do they drink a lot of cosmos and mojitos in Bordighera, near the French border? Maybe, but it doesn’t make for a compelling cocktail book.
Dig deep enough and you’ll find all the standards of Italy here — various spins on the spritz, the bellini, and the negroni — but so many of the cocktails (and even some of the food recipes) feel surprisingly international. Martinis, Manhattans, margaritas, even pina coladas… they’re all here, and they feel surprisingly unItaliano.
Joseph does seem to know her stuff, though, having spent ample time with boots on the ground exploring cities large and small along the Italian coast. Her list of essential bars and hotels in the back of the book is arguably the most useful part of it — and it’s certainly a better tool than, say, another recipe for hummus or instructions on how to make a watermelon daiquiri.
C+ / $8 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]