At a previous place of employment, I was tasked with cataloging and reviewing the upcoming season’s wave of holiday albums in the middle of summer. It was a rather mind-numbing assignment, but as the lowest rung on the editorial ladder, it felt like a weird rite of passage. Nearly 15 years later, I find myself in the same predicament with an advance copy of the latest installment of Andre Darlington’s Booze & Vinyl series of books.
By now, the drill has become familiar to anyone who has purchased previous editions: a record inspired by Darlington’s selections and a cocktail recipe are paired together. Some selections are tried and true classics (such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas, The Beach Boys Christmas Album), while others represent more modern fare. There are some glaring omissions, but judging by Darlington’s stunningly prolific two-books-per-year output, it’s not hard to imagine a sequel to this installment arriving in 2024. I am genuinely looking forward to cocktail pairings for Eazy-E’s “Merry Muthafuckin’ Xmas” or any of Tony Bennett’s excellent holiday offerings.
Darlington, as usual, does a serviceable job of listing off in detail the required spirits and tools necessary to do the job, along with a handy syrup quick guide as an appendix, which is useful no matter the season. Complexity ranges vary by recipe, with some taking a considerable amount of time, so plan and invest accordingly if attempting the “Figgy Pudding” or “Shepherd’s Watch.” Others are variants of tried and true recipes that can be constructed with minimal time or experience levels.
With the holiday season fast approaching, this may prove to be a smart buy for the cocktail enthusiast in your life looking for new experiments, or could serve as a catalyst to jump-start the menu of a holiday gathering. No matter the intended use, it’s a solid addition to an already impressively consistent canon of work.
B+ / $26 / [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]