I met Cheryl Charming aka Miss CharmingTM several years ago in New Orleans, Louisiana during a spirits' industry event. When I saw her vast collection of vintage cocktail glasses she was using for a special event, I knew that I had met a kindred spirit, as I, too, collect and use vintage cocktail glasses for parties and to celebrate life's special moments, daily, when necessary.
When I saw that Cheryl Charming had written a new book The Cocktail Companion: A Guide to Cocktail History, Culture, Trivia and Favorite Drinks I knew that I had to read it. Whether you are a novice to the world of cocktails or can mix a cocktail in the blink of an eye, Cheryl has created an engaging book that will appeal to all and deserves many a read.
An industry insider, Cheryl took time to speak with me about her new book, The Cocktail Companion: A Guide to Cocktail History, Culture, Trivia and Favorite Drinks. The inspiration from her book? "Basically, it's 38 years of stuff I collected, and there was more including cocktails in songs, but it had to be edited down to a smaller format." When Cheryl first started in the business, she started collecting bar tricks, recipes, history, and trivia. As she always enjoyed timelines, she effectively uses timelines in her book to give the reader an inside look at when and how things happened.
Friends with other mixology influencers including Dale "King Cocktail" DeGraff and Gary "Gas" Regan, Cheryl loves to know "why and whom." Her curiosity about who invented the Cosmo cocktail took three years of research speaking with chefs, bar and restaurant owners, and bartenders to narrow it down and get an answer which can be found in her book.
aka Miss Charming™
Her favorite cocktail? "It really depends on where I am and what I'm doing. If I'm at a jazz bar it will be different from if I am at a little dive bar, but my current favorite is anything made with Aviation American Gin."
Cheryl's best tip to mixologists: "The best thing to understand about the industry is not just learning the skills and how to make a drink, at the end of the day its about people, how you treat them, how you make them feel, and creating a great experience. It's all about the exit door, how the people feel when they leave."
The entertaining and educational book delves into the history of alcohol, explains about the various types of potent potables (i.e. vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and the listgoes on ...), provides interesting and innovative recipes, is the perfect reference book with advice on barware, glassware, and tools of the trade, and is a great party or bar trivia book as it includes fun facts and includes a section on cocktails referenced in movies, on television shows, and from literature and how they influenced and continue to influence audiences.
Especially interesting was reading about the backstories of the fifteen most influential American bartenders including early pioneers like Cato Alexander, Orsamus Willard,and Jeremiah R. Thomas aka "Professor" Jerry Thomas and others, to contemporary masters who helped introduce craft cocktails including Dale "King Cocktail" DeGroff who reigned over the Rainbow Room in New York, Charles Anthony "Tony" Abou-Ganim, and Chris McMillan from New Orleans, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting, and many other dedicated and passionate spirits industry professionals who helped create and hone the current cocktail culture to a fine art.
I highly recommend reading The Cocktail Companion: A Guide to Cocktail History, Culture, Trivia and Favorite Drinks by Cheryl Charming, preferably while sitting on a bar stool in your favorite watering hole with a martini (or your favorite cocktail) in your hand while doing so, and marking your place in the book with a cocktail stirrer. Cheers!
About the Author
"Cheryl Charming aka Miss CharmingTM has been heavily steeped in the cocktail culture as a bartender since 1980. She has 15 published bar and cocktail related books. In high school she worked as a pizza waitress then quickly progressed to cocktail waitress, barback, bartender, and head bartender. With a penchant for travel, Cheryl tended bar many places around America, a cruise ship in the Caribbean,and Walt Disney World. While working at WDW she became the bar trick/bar magic instructor for Disney's F&B training program, Quest for the Best. Cheryl was also involved with hosting and participating in events for Tales of the Cocktail and teaching "Edutaining" cocktail classes for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line passengers. She is a member of The Bartenders Guild and The Museum of the American Cocktail. Cheryl studied Graphic and Interactive Communication at Ringling College of Art & Design and works as a freelance graphic artist on the side. Currently, she lives in the French Quarter and is the bar director at Bourbon O Bar on the corner of Bourbon and Orleans inside the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter. She was named "Mixologist of the Year" in 2014 by New Orleans Magazine." Learn more about the author at www.MissCharming.com
Cheryl Charming is also the author of The Everything Bartender's Book.
The Cocktail Companion: A Guide to Cocktail History, Culture, Trivia and Favorite Drinks by Cheryl Charming is published by Mango Publishing and is available as a paperback. ISBN: 978-1-63353-923-5, $24.99.