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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

ROCTAILS (article first published : 2002-06-9)

Rocco de Villiers is a South African musician and host of kook en klavier en rocco, a popular cooking, cocktail and piano-music TV show. A seasoned traveller, he has developed a hobby on the culture of drinking into a passion.

Judging from one of the first photographs in the book, Rocco’s in dire need of a drink. Luckily he managed to dictate this book in his free (drinking) time, so we are treated to an endless supply of so-called Roctails. Boldly illustrated with colourful photographs by Ryno, we gradually see our star mellow from the initial roc-face. In fact, Ryno (or the huge amount of alcohol needed to concoct this book) gets our sullen idol to smile and make come-to-bed eyes at the end of the book.

Generally the Roctails are easy to mix, provided of course you have a well stocked bar. If you are the brandy-and-coke type, Rocco suggests you add one part dark rum to it, for the extra skop. Even if you are the Rooibos tea type, he has a suggestion for you. Add one part apricot liqueur with cucumber and lemon slices and a dash of lime cordial. Whatever your drinking preferences, Rocco is sure to have an idea to lift your spirits.

For parties, try the various punches (basically sparkling wine and an additive like pomegranate juice, Pernod or lemon soda). They are easy and fun to make and your guests will find them easy to scoff down. Martinis enjoy a chapter on their own and include such classics as the chocatini (vodka and chocolate liqueur),blautini (vodka, Blue Curaçao and berry juice), granatini (vodka and granadilla juice) and the inevitable roctini (Van der Hum, vodka and naartjie juice).

If some of Rocco’s creations seem a bit wild for your taste, try some of the classic cocktails. He discovered these during his days as a broke student. As we all know, students may be “consumed by figuring out how to pay for classes” but they never seem to be in short supply of something to consume! Judging by the number of classical cocktails in this book, Rocco certainly consumed his fair share. Most of the classics are covered, like the Bloody Mary, Margaritha, Screwdriver et al.

As a musician, Rocco has travelled far and wide. His travels have inspired some mighty brews, like the Gentle Giant (two parts ouzo, water or soda to taste and a dash of grenadine). This international section is beautifully contrasted with a section on local cocktails, like the thunderbolt (ice, dash witblits, lime juice and dash of grenadine) or the equally lethal pick me up (ice, witblits, Liqui-Fruit Breakfast punch, a dash of Triple Sec and lemonade).

Roctails is proof that you need no formal experience to get drunk. It seems that all you need are a few bottles of your choice and a willingness to mix, stir or shake. Like Rocco, you can even name most of your concoctions after yourself. Inevitably the effect will be the same: You, flat on your back, and (if you planned it right) in bed. Luckily there are some suggestions for bedtime, so now you don’t have to drink alone. Invite over a friend and (like our intrepid author) even you can experience a “good bed worth toasting”.

Roctails is available from Struik and retails for R119.95. - Hendrik Baird




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