Pros: Great food; long list of rum drinks
Cons: Drinks didn’t entirely wow me
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review book (published 2009) provided courtesy of Chronicle Books.
Jessica Harris’s Rum Drinks: 50 Caribbean Cocktails, From Cuba Libre to Rum Daisy starts off with some rum-related history, then delves into elements of mixology for those of us who haven’t made a lot of drinks before. Then it segues straight into two chapters of drinks (Classic Concoctions and Tropical Tipples), as well as one of Caribbean Snacks to go with.
The rum drinks are pretty simple and familiar. I found that many of the recipes seemed to be slight variations on each other. Most of the flavors were also pretty simple, which didn’t always work out well. The balance of the flavors in the pina colada seemed off, for example. The coquito tasted delightful, but many people aren’t going to want to risk raw eggs; since there are ways to make such drinks safer without ruining their fundamental textures and flavors, a few words on how to do this would have been a nice addition. Many of the recipes suggest the use of rums that will probably be difficult to obtain in most areas.
All of the above is just fine if it happens to suit your needs. For example, perhaps you just truly love rum and want to be able to make every last known rum drink. Perhaps you live somewhere that sells all those delightful rum variations, and you want some guidance on how to make use of them. In these cases, I think Rum Drinks would be an excellent choice! As a way to explore a wide variety of new things, however, it fell a bit short for me.
The foods chapter is rather nice. Again, most of it is simple fare you can throw together easily to go with drinks, and normally I’d expect to see some of these recipes written up as two-line suggestions on a list (such as bacon-wrapped pickled watermelon or coconut crisps). On the other hand, this book does have the best fried chicken recipe I’ve ever tried, and also the only fried chicken recipe I’ve yet seen that has you marinate the chicken before coating and frying it.
Since this is a Chronicle cookbook, it almost goes without saying that the book itself is lovely. It’s colorful, includes beautiful pictures here and there, and has a clear and easy-to-read layout.