Why is this project called the Rituals? What does it mean?
We didn’t want our project to look like the erratic behavior of rascals, so this notion of tradition was essential to us—and comforting to our significant others as well. Coming together to drink is something that humans have been doing for millennia. It is much bigger than us; it is part of our heritage. It’s a communion, a sacrament. A ritual!
Why did you choose a cocktail book from the 1970s? Most people would choose something more cutting edge, or else something from the 19th century.
We went back and forth for some time about using The Complete World Bartender Guide: The Standard Reference to More than 2,400 Drinks, copyright 1977, as our road map. Brian appreciated the sheer totality of it, but Eric wondered if the 70s weren’t a black hole for cocktail culture. We started looking at other volumes, both current and ancient.
But then we came across an Amazon review that caught us off guard. Submitted by a user named spOOn, “A Stealthy Treasure” deconstructed the genius of the Complete World Bartender Guide in hilarious detail. This review was to change our lives:
“This book has been around forever, it seems. It is one of those cheap books slapped together by someone who may not really understand what he is assembling. In this case it is an absolute treasure of classic cocktail and beverage recipes. It is a time capsule. A famous image of Jerry Thomas mixing a Blue Blazer graces the introduction of the previous edition, but is unidentified! For many years, up till the middle of this past decade, it was the only place to find true classic recipes…and there are thousands in this volume! It is the cheapest way by far to have a complete recipe collection for classic cocktails, punches, flips, sangarees, toddies, cobblers, etc. It reaches far back to the early 19th Century and carries through to Prohibition, into the Post-Prohibition revival and is peppered with a smattering of “modern” recipes.
Where does one find true Peach Brandy these days? Nowhere. How ’bout a recipe for making your own? It’s in there. Need a recipe for making mead? Yep. It even lists Abbot’s Bitters as a ‘must have’ for any bar, being that it’s one of the “most popular.” Abbott’s has been defunct since the 1950s.”
We think that pretty much says it all.
What makes you guys an authority on cocktails?
A: Nothing, that’s precisely the point. Barring some basic mixed drinks during the college years, we are both fairly new to the field. We are not bartenders or distillers or experts in any way. We are novices, but with an intense inner curiosity about spirits and the ingredients that combine with them. And as two guys fast approaching a numb middle age, it is refreshing and joyful to dive into a brand-new pursuit. We will dive deep; perhaps by the end we will even gain some facility at this elusive craft. Perhaps someday we can hold our heads up and say we are no longer novices. In the meantime we will bumble along, propelled by our enthusiasm. Come bumble along with us!
What do you hope to accomplish with this? Why don’t you just meet up occasionally and have GOOD drinks instead of subjecting yourselves to this madness?
The very first drink in The Complete World Bartender Guide, the A-1 PICK-ME-UP, guards the door to the book like some kind of mythological beast. Nobody is getting in with without a fight to the death. The recipe is inspired lunacy, calling for a dozen eggs and a dozen lemons and rock candy and rotgut rum and unrefrigerated aging of such things. We went our separate ways to research this bizarre pre-Prohibition hangover cure… and found nothing. The recipe is around but there is nothing actually written about it. Zero.
It’s an odd feeling to come across something the Internet knows nothing about. It makes you feel sad and alone. We didn’t like this feeling so we decided to do something about it.
We’d like to say that we are in uncharted waters, but that isn’t wholly accurate—we are in waters that nobody has wanted to go into in decades. And for good reason. When was the last time the insane A-1 Pick Me Up was made, seriously? Fifty years ago? And that’s just the beginning, literally.
What happens if you can’t find some of the ingredients?
Of course a project like this must have rules, stern rules, or else you’re back in the jungle with anarchy. To address this particular question, we must address Rule #8: “Substitutions are only allowed for extinct or impossible-to-find items, and must be copped to.”
Please go here to see the entire list of rules.
How can we contact you guys?
We’d love to hear from you. Please use the handy form below if you want to reach out to us!