My first impression of “Good Things to Drink” was that it was pretentious and impractical.

Flipping through the pages, it seemed the recipes were either insultingly simplistic (who needs instructions for making a gin and tonic?) or something that I can’t imagine anyone actually following, other than a bartender at a fancy cocktail lounge – someone like Ryan Chetiyawardana, a celebrated mixologist from London, known by his nickname, Mr Lyan, and the author of this cookbook.

I don’t know about you, but I am not about to bake up some eggplant chips as a garnish for drinks for me and a couple friends.

I picked up the book in the hopes of finding a punch or some other large-batch drink to make during my upcoming vacation, either for entertaining or to keep in a pitcher for whenever I felt like a fun, refreshing cocktail.

I figured there had to be something suitable within the inch-thick hard cover. A quick look through the index, where the book is broken down into several sections from “Market Fresh” to “Winter Feasting,” led me to “Summer Social Sips,” which sounded exactly like what I was seeking.

There was a recipe for a punch that seemed promising, but the main ingredient was apple juice – not my favorite. The following two recipes showed pictures of refreshing-looking drinks in pitchers with lemon rinds, both made with scotch, also not my first choice.

Then, there was a section within the section called “infusions.” I figured I would’ve had to start making these a month in advance, but that wasn’t the case.

It can be a bit of work preparing the infusion for Grapefruit and Rosemary Gin with Ginger Ale, but it's well worth the effort.

It can be a bit of work preparing the infusion for Grapefruit and Rosemary Gin with Ginger Ale, but it’s well worth the effort.

The recipe for grapefruit and rosemary gin with ginger ale used some of my favorite flavors and didn’t require that I purchase ingredients like green chartreuse that I’d never use again.

Making the infusion seemed simple enough too, with the booze needing just a few hours in the fridge to infuse. In a weeklong vacation, I could find time for that.

Starting a little too close to cocktail hour, I gave it just two hours before giving it a taste. I was worried the flavors wouldn’t have fully infused but I was wrong. I was also worried the ginger ale would overpower the infusion. Wrong again.

What I got was a deliciously refreshing cocktail with a flavor all its own. If I hadn’t known the ingredients in it, I probably could not have guessed them. I had a second serving of the infusion with tonic instead of ginger ale, as the recipe offers as an alternative, and that made for another distinctly flavored drink.

As with all the recipes in the book, a second preparation was proposed. It used the flesh of the grapefruit in addition to the peel but warned that the drink’s fuller flavor could get old quick. Even with just the peel, I found the infusion to be pretty bold.

Surprised by the simplicity and success of my first recipe, I started reading the cookbook more closely. In his introduction, Chetiyawardana notes that the recipes should act as inspirations and needn’t be followed to a T. It hit me that the recipes were the opposite of what I had initially thought. They were fairly simple ways to make very impressive cocktails. A breakdown of essential bar equipment at the beginning of the book shows no huge investment is needed to become a home barkeep.

And there’s sure to be something to fit anyone’s tastes and time constraints among the dozens of recipes that incorporate various ingredients and require different levels of commitment – which, for the most part, is less than I would have thought.

Soon, I was considering whipping up a quick rhubarb syrup for the next one.

GRAPEFRUIT AND ROSEMARY GIN WITH GINGER ALE

3 grapefruits

100g/4oz sugar

2 sprigs rosemary

1 bottle London dry gin

Cubed ice

Chilled ginger ale, to finish

Grapefruit, to garnish

Zest the grapefruit using a peeler.

Add the peel along with the sugar, rosemary and gin to a large jar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Allow to infuse for a few hours (or up to a day), then strain through a sieve. Store in the fridge.

To serve, fill a highball with cubes of ice and add 2 shots of the infusion. Top with chilled ginger ale, stir and add a slice of grapefruit.