Book Review: Spirits of the Otherworld
Allison Crawbeck and Rhys Everett are the proprietors of the Last Tuesday Society’s Cocktail Bar, which is part of the Viktor Wynd museum. A quick search into Viktor Wynd reveals Vik to be a “pataphysicist, writer, curator, collector, dilettante, naturalist, and antiquarian… [who] has put on over 500 literary salons, curated over forty art exhibitions at his eponymous art gallery, séances, workshops and of course his parties that regularly attract in excess of 3,000 guests.”
Of course. But this review is not about Wynd. It’s about Crawbeck and Everett’s new cocktail recipe book, Spirits of the Otherworld. Which, as you may have guessed by its catchy pun title, explores some of the darker side of cocktail recipes.
Otherworld is billed as a grimoire of occult cocktails. I suppose there’s an angle necessary here to reinforce the fact that you, the reader, are about to make a jump to the dark side. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is some Hogwarts cutesy tomfoolery. This isn’t a book where things are given cutesy Halloween name, but you’re basically drinking the same thing as you would with all the unvaccinated and unmasked freedom fighters down at your local family-friendly, mid-priced casual restaurant. There’s some serious intention and concerted effort put into these recipes, and much to their credit each of the 50 cocktails requires minimal execution and ingredients. I’ve attempted roughly half of the book thus far, and I look forward to digging in deeper as the days grow shorter.
As a bonus, each recipe weaves an entertaining and informative narrative going beyond basic cocktail lore and culture. The book is packed with anecdotes which would please fans of mythology, ancient history, folklore, and classical studies, and pairs as a fine reading accompaniment to the cocktail you just conjured into existence. And at $20, Spirits of the Otherworld is as sturdy and durable in its design as books twice the price: It is a pleasure to flip through pages of well-shot photography while looking for something to drink. It’s a smart value, and with fall and winter right around the corner, it might be a great starter idea for a cocktail party during colder months. Provided we haven’t perished dead from the global pandemic, climate change, nuclear war, etc. by then.
A-/ $20 / [BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON]
The only complaint about this book is that every drink can cost you between $100-$400. Some of the alcohol they tell you to get is only available in London. It’s a pretty book on a shelf but impossible to enjoy making if I can’t afford the high quality recommendations. Maybe one day I can save up for a couple of the drinks.