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Thursday 28 January 2010

Book Review: Cocktails & Rock Tales

Cocktails and Rock Tales, by music journalist Jane Rocca, is a gorgeous hardback book which features on its polkadot-patterned cover red gingham heels, a disco ball, headphones, feather boa, and a pink cocktail in a martini glass with a strawberry and a stripy straw. I know you're not meant to judge books by their covers, but in terms of aesthetics, this book and I definitely got off to a good start.

Inside, the scrapbook-style design continues. Every page is decorated with some nod to music memorabilia, from record sleeves, badges and T-shirts, to setlists and lists of top ten albums in each major music genre. This is an effective way of making the collection seem more original and unique than other traditional recipe books, whilst the clean design and predominantly-white backgrounds to the pages stops it from seeming too cluttered and busy. The instructions are clear, but beautifully-presented. So far, so good.

Cocktails and Rock Tales is basically a book of cocktail recipes, collected by the author from bartenders across Australia and New York, and organised by the music genre you're meant to drink them with. For example, if you're a pop goddess, your perfect tipple will be a Material Girl or a Pop Tart. If you're more into guitar rock, a Cock Suckin' Cowboy might be more to your taste. This thematic anthology was collated by Jane Rocca because, apparently “drinks are not just drinks, and tunes are not just tunes – both the music you listen to and the cocktails you indulge in are statements of intent. What think determines what you drink.”

Whilst for some might disagree with such a sweeping statement, I'm prepared to suck it up for now because the concept's an interesting one that I haven't seen in any other cocktail collection, and it works well, to an extent. The introductions to the section for each musical genre (including rockabilly, pop, punk, and even karaoke) are well-researched but simple enough for non-musos to understand too. Similarly, the use of song titles and lyrics were a cute and quirky touch for readers who recognise them, without alienating the ones who might not be so into their guitar rock or 60s girl pop.

All very well and good, but I must confess to feeling a bit cheated. Where are the rock tales I was promised in the book's title? Non-existent. From the title I was expecting the cocktail recipes to be combined with anecdotes, if not from the musicians themselves, then at least maybe from the bartenders' who'd served them their favourite poison. That would have been a perfect twist, and you'd think, not too tricky for someone with a journalistic background, used to sleuthing, researching and extracting the most scandalous gossip from all and sundry. To me, it seems like an obvious omission, and one that left me a tad disappointed.

But, for its bargaintastic price (it's only £6.49 from Amazon), it's still rather lovely-looking, despite not quite doing what is says on the tin. Even if you're not convinced about it as a purchase for yourself, it's worth remembering as a gift idea for any liquor-loving rock chick in your life, especially because at that price you still have lots of pennies left over to spend on actual cocktails. Which surely can't be a bad thing.

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