So, I’m trying something new on my blog! Whenever I buy a cookbook or receive one as a gift, I go through a phase in which I make several recipes, getting a real handle on the book and its merits. I realized I should also log my experiences here.
The first book I’m reviewing is one I was really excited for–Spritz, by Leslie Pariseau and Talia Baiocchi. The PR machine for this book has been operating in overdrive over the last months, with this book and really most anything on the Italian aperitivo culture given center stage. The way I found out about the book, and decided I wanted it, was when Food52 had an Italy week, during which they featured the Spritz authors on their podcast, Burnt Toast. Listening to Baiocchi and Pariseau talking about their road trip through northern Italy and their love of the aperitivo culture was so evocative on a gray May morning on the central coast of California. Just the thing to get me excited for summer!
I think the most striking thing about the book are the visuals: it’s gorgeous and just so…cool looking. Baiocchi and Pariseau said they were aiming for a mix between 1920s alcohol advertisements and a 1980s Jazzercise aesthetic, and the combination of the two here works very well. Kudos to their designer. I think, also, that a lot of attention had to be paid to the aesthetics because many of the spritz recipes result in similar-colored drinks: that rosy, orange-y hue reminiscent of a warm, dry sunset. So, much attention is placed on the styling with different glasses and accoutrements that differentiate some of the recipes from each other more visually. Here’s 4 photos of 4 different recipes from the book, to give a sense of the relatively uniform coloration.
Divided into 4 main sections–history of the spritz; the basics of spritzing; cocktail recipes (divvied into Classic, Modern, and Cousins); and food recipes–the first 2 sections are 50 pages of beautifully written prose that makes you want to dive straight into the recipes. The second main chapter has tons of useful information on how to build your spritz bar, what each of the liquors involve in terms of bittering and flavoring agents. This is especially helpful for someone in a small town who can’t find things locally, like Cocchi Americano. I was able to come up with some alternatives based on the much-appreciated second chapter.
Cocktail Recipes Review:
In a word? Great. Over the last several weeks, I’ve made so many of the recipes-you know…to be fair! Of the 4 classic recipes, I’ve made 3 and they were all lovely. Want to try a Negroni Sbagliato, one of the classics? Go here! Of the 40 remaining recipes, I made 8 recipes including the dessert-y sgroppino–prosecco with lemon sorbet–and the Hugo Spritz–a drink perfect for those who dislike bitters with elderflower liquor, mint, prosecco, and a dash of soda water.
Where this book really shines for me is in the “modern” spritz recipes as I found most of my favorites here.
- Rosé all day–a concoction of homemade papaya shrub, rosé, lemon, and cocchi (though I used half Lillet blanc and half Aperol as a sub).
- Tarocco spritz–this was the absolute winner in my house. I subbed some homemade Tahitian vanilla extract added to simple syrup for their vanilla syrup, subbed Campari for cappelleti, and used the called-for lemon and prosecco. Fabulous, complex, layered, and refreshing.
- Aperol Betty-a take on the mimosa, with aperol, orange, and grapefruit, topped with prosecco. Not as cloying as the mimosa and a gorgeous pink tone makes this wonderful for the brunch table.
Food Recipe Reviews
Whereas the cocktail recipes really shine, the food I made was fine…not super-great, but not bad either. One of my testing days, I made 4 recipes from the final chapter: Aperitivo Table. Our 2 favorites are pictured above. The sage and white bean combo was easy to make and quite tasty. Baiocchi and Pariseau recommend any seasonal fruit for the ricotta and prosciutto topping. We had just gotten some beautiful strawberries in our CSA and it was lovely.
Buy this book! It’s very well priced and is a treasure trove for the summer light cocktail season!
Though I also purchased a copy (for $11-something on Amazon), I did receive this book from Blogging for Books for this review.