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Book Review: Speakeasy by Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric

I received a review copy of Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric, and I can't wait to try some of the recipes in it. 

I was just going to review the book here, but the folks at Fine Cooking asked me to review it for them in this week's blog post. Better yet, they got permission to include three recipes from the book:

Things that make a great cocktail book (for me):

  • Not stuffed full of classics and basics that you can find everywhere.
  • Not a million pages describing base spirits and techniques.
  • Original recipes, but not so weird that you won't bother to try them.
  • Recipes read like the authors have an understanding of cocktail format- not obviously unbalanced drinks that make you distrust the book.
  • Enticing list of ingredients. Watermelon and Campari? Yes, I will try that. 
  • Not a billion cocktails. Give us your best, not everything in the world. 
  • Not so many homemade ingredients that you'll never make them.

Speakeasy meets most of these requirements and has plenty of pretty pictures to boot.

Most of the recipes in the book are, as the title says, variations on classic cocktails, but with really interesting variations. They list recipes for a blackberry-elderflower version of the Cosmopolitan, a French 75 with strawberry cordial, a Gin On Gin Julep, a Calvados Sidecar, and many other oh-that-sounds-good variations that you can picture in your mind's tongue. 

Unique Features

One unique feature of Speakeasy is that instead of infusing base spirits (though they have a couple), they infuse vermouth. There is one infused with herbes de Provence, on with chai, and a third with rooibos tea. The infusions are generally simple, and infusing a bottle of vermouth is a lot less financially risky than infusing a bottle of bourbon or tequila. 

They also list recipes for their lime cordial and grenadine, which they now sell as bottled products

So yeah, can't wait to get cracking on making these drinks. Yums. 

The book is available on

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