The Joy of Equal Parts Cocktails With Author Kara Newman
Crack open most modern craft cocktail books and you’ll find a beautiful collection of drinks—all of which require upwards of 10 ingredients apiece, including special homemade syrups and obscure liqueurs. These types of recipes are great for professional bartenders but can prove disastrous for amateurs, which is why spirit and cocktail writer Kara Newman’s latest book is such a relief.
Published in September by Chronicle Books, Shake.Stir.Sip.: More Than 50 Effortless Cocktails Made in Equal Parts is a collection of cocktails that are at once beautiful, sophisticated and easy. The book ranges from absurdly simple two-ingredient drinks like the 50/50 Martini to effortless five-ingredient drinks like The Morning Star, an author original (recipe below), and it includes many other classic recipes and originals from bartenders across the country.
It’s clear that Newman’s equal parts evangelism has hit a nerve; the book has already sold out of its first run and remains in high demand. This is Newman’s third book of cocktail recipes, following Spice & Ice (2009) and Cocktails for a Crowd (2013).
We caught up with Newman at New York’s Sons and Daughters to talk about the challenges of writing Shake.Stir.Sip. and its impressive success among professional and home bartenders.
Supercall: What made you want to write about equal part cocktails?
Kara Newman: What I love about equal parts drinks is that I can’t screw them up. It was a revelation when I realized that “equal parts” existed as a drink technique, and that it extended beyond just the Negroni. Bartenders have been working with equal parts cocktails for a long time—they’re in The Savoy Cocktail Book published in 1930. Lots of classics are made in equal parts. Lots of modern bartenders are creating new equal parts drinks. I became obsessed with them, and that turned into the book.
SC: Did restricting yourself to equal parts cocktails create any challenges?
KN: So many equal parts drinks are the bitter, boozy, stirred variety, like the Negroni and the Sharpie Mustache. That’s great and I love drinks like that, but one of the biggest challenges in putting together the book was balancing the mix of drinks, so it wasn’t all boozy and bitter-style drinks.
SC: Did you encounter any big surprises while researching the book?
KN: The sheer magnitude of equal parts drinks. I’m still finding new ones. I’m amazed how creative bartenders are within the constraints of the equal parts template—it doesn’t stop them from making drinks work.
SC: You’ve said before that the Blood and Sand didn’t make the cut because it’s not properly balanced. Were there any others like this?
KN: The classic brandy Sidecar didn’t work for me in equal parts. And there’s a classic cocktail called Satan’s Whiskers—gin, sweet and dry vermouths, orange juice and orange curaçao—that I had hoped to include but didn’t work in equal parts. I tried it a few different ways and wound up pouring most of them down the drain. But there’s a happy ending, because the Satan’s Whiskers led me to a variation with rye whiskey and apple cider that worked beautifully. It became The Morning Star cocktail in Shake.Stir.Sip. [Recipe below.]
SC: The book already sold out the first run—why do you think it has resonated so much?
KN: People have maxed out on overly complicated, baroque cocktails, and more streamlined drinks feel right for right now. And you have a new generation coming into the mix—younger people who have been exposed to sophisticated cocktails at bars and know what they like, but maybe are new to mixing those drinks at home.
The Morning Star
Courtesy of Kara Newman
.75 oz sweet vermouth
.75 oz dry vermouth
.75 oz rye whiskey
.75 oz apple cider
.75 oz orange liqueur
2 or 3 dashes Angostura bitters
Apple wheel, for garnish
- Add all ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.
- Shake well, and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with an apple wheel.