THE RITUALS is Eric D. Anderson’s and Brian Christie’s attempt to make every drink in The Complete World Bartender Guide: The Standard Reference to More than 2,400 Drinks, copyright 1977, in order, starting with the A’s. Easy enough, right?
But a journey of this sort shouldn’t be easy. All of these cocktails shouldn’t be delicious and interesting—no, they should be abandoned outcasts, the way we used to feel about ourselves much of the time. And fun? Forget about it. Making these forgotten cocktails, one at a time, and breathing life into them again—this is a public service we have been called on to perform. In doing so we might encounter an older time, from a more agrarian past perhaps, when recipes would say things like “allow to stand for several days until it’s ready” and “steep in 3 ½ gallons of grain alcohol for two weeks” and “strain, distill, and add the peppermint extract” and readers would know what the authors were talking about without having to resort to hours of fruitless Internet searches.
“Wait, distill?” Brian said, turning. “As in an actual still?”
The more we talked about it, the more we felt we had a responsibility to keep these traditions alive. And to talk about them openly. Throughout history there have been great men and women that have taken on challenges and conquered them, but they just didn’t stop there—they let everyone know what they accomplished. Not only did they better themselves, they bettered all mankind with the knowledge of their journey. We decided to follow in their roomy footsteps—we would sail our raggedy ship into these forgotten, murky waters, where we would mix our metaphors and keep a log of all we encountered. And we would publish these findings in an online forum. Yes, we would cheerfully document our successes and failures. But mostly our failures.