Martin’s Index: the Tropical Update

Today, a fairly hefty update dropped for Martin’s Index: 36 recipe additions from Trader Vic’s Book of Food & Drink (1946) and a whopping 128 from Charles H. Baker Jr.’s South American Gentleman’s Companion: Being an Exotic Drinking Book, or Up & Down the Andes with Jigger, Beaker & Flask (1951).

While previous updates included Cuba’s early contributions to mixology, and a smattering of proto-exotic drinks have dribbled in from various sources, this update significantly pushes an emergent tropical theme.

The Vic book is one of the first drink recipe books that deliberately sets out to feature new ideas and is explicit about not wasting your time rehashing a bunch of old drink recipes. Amongst others, we get from this collection early versions of the Dr. Funk, El Diablo, Flamingo, Fog Cutter, Rum Cow, Queen’s Park Swizzle, Tortuga and various punches and swizzles. Of course, none of this is in any way a substitute for Beachbum Berry’s Total Tiki, but some of these drinks are already good, and here we get to see them in a new context.

Baker’s book is just wonderful. It’s nowhere near as well known as his earlier Gentleman’s Companion, but it’s far stronger. As usual, many of the recipes are a bit weird and need refinement, but they’re really interesting ideas. Although dry gin and cognac abound, this book is notable for pushing pisco, aquavit, Demerara Rum and—generally—interesting collisions of European and Latin American ingredients.

Martin’s Index is now the ideal companion to this gorgeous reprint of Baker’s book, which I highly recommend you order. In addition to the delightful original text, it features superb new front matter from Baker expert St. John Frizell!