Summer is now finally making itself known and we've had our first barbeque, for me the natural drinking partner for the summer are cocktails. The best guides I've found are the sauce guides, which are a straight forward guide to making good cocktails, like you might get in a decent cocktail bar, like lab bar in Soho, London.
The sauce guides cover how to make these and great things like the bramble, champagne cocktails and jamican mules, which are much better than russian ones , essentially swap vodka for dark rum. The sauce guides cover what to use and how to mix it, plus a short review and a bit of history, plus a photo of what it should look like. Their recipes work and make tasty drinks, the emphasis on fresh ingredients and being precise with measuring so you get the balance of sweetness right. They also recommend different spirits to get and what toys to buy. The website needs a decent searchable interface though, as there are over 1000 drinks in the book, which is 7 quid and updated quarterly.
To make many decent cocktails, like the sublime bramble, you need an ice crusher, Braun make a decent one which is part of a food processor, order it from amazon. The reason for an ice crusher is so that the alcohol is kept cold in a glass, which is tightly packed with ice. If the ice is crushed then less of it melts as there are no gaps, you can see this as the outside of the glass gets covered in condensation.
My perfect martini, take cold gin, usually gordons export and noilly prat vermouth. To make one martini take two shots of gin and about a quarter of a shot of vermouth, sometimes a little less and shake with 3-4 fresh ice cubes for about 5-10 seconds, and then pour into a chilled martini glass, chill the glass with ice and water, then dry with a glass cloth. To make a gibson add a black olive, to make my current favourite add a splash of brine from some olives and you get a dirty martini.