Book Review:

In a Nutshell

An engagingly simple guide to learning how to create your own syrups, bitters, liqueurs and cocktails.


What’s the story?

DIY Cocktails is the brainchild of Marcia Simmons and Jonas Halpren, the clever people behind drinkoftheweekcom. Walking readers through chapters such as ‘The Original Cocktail’, ‘With a Dash, Splash or a Twist’, ‘Tropical Drinks’ to ‘Parties and Punch’, this is much more than simply an accumulation of recipes. Each section takes classic recipes such as a Manhattan and Martini then teaches us how to improvise around them by changing ratios, using different bitters, syrups and liqueurs, even changing the base spirit, eventually turning it into a completely different cocktail altogether. While this is informative stuff the real fun starts when they teach us how to make our own syrups, bitters and liqueurs, and infuse favourite spirits. Throw in some neat tips and tricks and you have a highly original book which will be welcome to new cocktail mixers and old hands alike.


228 page soft cover book that builds on the classic recipes we know and love and takes the reader on a journey of infusions and improvisations. Start with the basics including how a cocktail ratio works, how ingredients are categorised, that kind of thing, then move on to learn all sorts of clever techniques to unleash a whole new world of cocktail mixing.

Ms S says

Instead of the usual dipping in and out that one does with the majority of recipe books, this draws you in with the magnetism of a well-constructed novel. Each page is packed with cocktail-making nuggets, ranging from the simple (how to chill a glass) to the more creative (ditching the recipes and using the ratio). You can feel your confidence growing as you work your way through the book – it’s written like you’re talking to a knowledgeable but very patient friend. The clean, simplistic design makes the book extremely easy to follow and by the end of it, you’ll be pretty nifty in the cocktail-making department.

Mr G says

This is a fabulous book for anyone who likes messing around with drinks recipes and looking for variations on favourites. It makes making your own bitters and liqueurs much easier than you might imagine, while learning to infuse spirits off will take your creativity in completely new directions. Best of all it gives us directions, not rules. I think a lot of people will be finding themselves mixing up completely original concoctions to much praise and adulation from their guests, then replying modestly “Like it? My own recipe you know”.

The Details


Photography by Jackson Stakeman

DIY Cocktails, Marcia Simmons & Jonas Halpren, £12.59
Published by Adams Media Corporation. Available from

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