Katie Loeb has been making her mark on cocktail menus around town for quite some time now. As the current chief intoxicologist at Han Dynasty, she’s working on a roster of old-school tiki-inspired sips to complement Han’s menu of numbingly spicy dishes. But in between crafting cocktails for Han, Loeb has penned Shake, Stir, Pour (Quarry, July 1), a forward-thinking guide to mixing up some very inspired cocktails.
Farm-to-table cooking is hardly a groundbreaking concept, but Loeb’s garden-to-bar style of cocktail craftsmanship is new to the home mixologist. It’s a whole-foods concept, one that incorporates fruit, herbs and spices into 50 cocktail recipes that will have you forever forgoing store-bought mixers.
Like any spiral-bound worth its salt (or salted rim), Shake, Stir, Pour is infinitely usable, with intros on stocking your home bar, building your bar-tools box, selecting glassware and stocking up on kitchen-bar staples.
Loeb goes on to introduce a lineup of syrups — fresh, bright ones like rosemary, honeysuckle and hibiscus. She walks you through the sweet process of crafting bar basics, including pomegranate grenadine, citrusy cordials, almondy orgeat and spicy coffee falernum. Rounding out the roster of recipes is a chapter highlighting home infusions. For amateur infusers, Loeb likens vodka to the tofu of the spirits world: a blank slate just waiting to be met with all manner of aromatics, including some lovely caraway-infused aquavit.
Once you’ve got the bar stocked, Shake, Stir, Pour is there not only to provide recipes, but to ease the home barkeep into the place where an intuitive knowledge of cocktail mixing exists. Fewer hard-and-fast recipes and more understanding the flavors that blend organically is what sets Shake, Stir, Pour apart from other drinks books.
There’s real femininity in Loeb's cocktails; breezy, easy-sipping drinks with a vibrancy that relies on freshness first with a boozy punch set back from the foreground. Made with black-currant-kaffir-lime grenadine, gin and dry vermouth, the Purple Haze is just this kind of drink.
Being that it’s prime fruit and herb cocktail-mixing season, it’s worth a mention that many of the book’s recipes are preservable, either because they’re freezable, shelf stable or stowable in the fridge, making Loeb’s tart rhubarb daiquiris and blackberry shrubs a possibility even when the weather turns cool.