MARK ADDISON BELIEVES THAT LIFE IS A SERIES OF SPECIAL OCCASIONS MEANT TO BE CELEBRATED IN HIGH STYLE.
As an award-winning author, designer and producer, he has created extraordinary interiors and environments for private homes, celebrity events, major product launches, and international galas. His uniquely creative vision has earned him an impressive client list of celebrities, top consumer brands, and Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Addison’s entertaining and design expertise, along with his dynamic personal style, have made him a sought-after authority. He has shared his ideas on design and home entertaining in more than 100 television appearances on national and regional TV shows as well as a regular contributor to print and on-line publications. Mr. Addison splits his time between New York City, Palm Beach, and Vermont. He is always energized by his shifting environment and inspired by the natural beauty of his surroundings. This brings a fresh perspective and contagious optimism to all his work, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
In his new book, Cocktail Chameleon Mark provides 12 variations on 12 classic cocktails on classic cocktails, starting with a lesson on the fundamentals of each drink (proportions, techniques and ingredients) before sharing the secrets of his own recipes. His ultimate goal: to inspire you to create our own unforgettable signature cocktails.
You are a TV personality, successful event planner, designer, award-winning producer, and, entertaining expert. You are now adding “author” to your long list of accomplishments! Why now and why cocktails?
I’ve always knew I would publish a book and funny enough, when I made my first appearance on national TV as an entertaining expert, the host ask what the name of my book was… I didn’t have one and though “I’ve got to get busy!”
For the last two decades, I’ve produced award-wining celebrations all over the world and appeared on national television as an authority on design and entertaining. Along the way, I created hundreds of signature cocktails to toast special occasions, product launches, celebrities and Hollywood films.
Why Cocktails? They are what get the party started so it was a given that first book should be about cocktails and earned the nickname Marktini because I would go to friends’ houses and mix up cocktails with whatever they had at hand.
But making cocktails can seem daunting to the uninitiated, especially when it’s
referred to as “the art of mixology.” And that’s the main reason I decided to write a cocktail book. I want to demystify cocktails by providing an understanding of the classics and show how, with that basic foundation, everyone can join in the fun and excitement of creating their own signature drinks.
I also created a Cocktail Chameleon Companion: How to Set Up a Home Bar in 5 Easy Steps eBook where readers can find detailed information on five glassware essentials, five fundamental spirits and liqueurs, five best bar tools, top five ingredients and garnishes needed to set up a home bar. You can download your free eBook by subscribing to Mark Mail here.
Why did you write Cocktail Chameleon and what does it teach the uninitiated to the cocktail culture? Why cocktails vs wine?
Making cocktails can seem daunting to the uninitiated, especially when it’s referred to as “the art of mixology.” And that’s the main reason I decided to write this book. I want to demystify cocktails by providing an understanding of the classics and show how, with that basic foundation, everyone can join in the fun and excitement of creating their own signature drinks.
The cocktail’s rich history provides an opportunity to sift through a vast archive of resources and recipes spanning generations. Looking back, we can avail ourselves of a great wealth of inspiration that allows us to look forward with renewed intrigue and creativity. There are rules and formulas to be adhered to—and broken. That is the guiding premise of “Cocktail Chameleon,” in which each of 12 classic cocktails serves as a point of departure for 12 wildly diverse variations. These need not be an end in themselves but should, in turn, inspire you to create even more variations to reflect your individual taste and personality. The possibilities are endless. A signature drink is an extension of your aesthetic, with the power to transform your next cocktail party into the ultimate personal statement.
Why cocktails vs wine? Why not cocktails AND wine? Sangrias, Punches and Coolers are classic cocktail chapters within Cocktail Chameleon that offer less alcohol forward recipes than say Manhattans, Old Fashioned and Martinis. There is even a chapter on Beer Cocktails in which the classic Mulled Ale is deeply rooted in the history of imbibing dating back to the 1800’s.
Your mantra is: “it’s called entertaining for a reason; you get to have fun while you do it”, what’s the trick to getting “out from behind the bar” and enjoying ones’ own party?
I think the biggest problem people face is over complicating their party plans (and I’ve been there). You want to try new recipes and give your guests lots of options (just in case they don’t like something) and this is where the fear of throwing a party comes in and why many people just don’t do it!
I have a 50/50 rule for home entertaining, and it applies on many levels:
1. 50% pre-prepared (homemade or not, who’s to know) and 50% that you must prepare the day of your party. Keeps you from overloading yourself, because life always gets in the way of best laid plans – am I right?
2. 50% of your party plan must be in your entertaining repertoire and you can turn it out in your sleep (you may just have to) and 50% new(ish) to keep things fresh. Taste test at least a week before to work out any kinks.
I can answer that in two words for you SIGNATURE - COCKTAIL! It is what Cocktail Chameleon is all about finding your signature cocktail with understanding the basics of classic cocktails.
What cocktail would you say is your ‘signature’ cocktail?
My friends always request a Marktini or a Markarita when they come over to my house because it’s now an anticipated part of celebrating with me. I earned the nickname Marktini because I would go to friends’ houses and mix up cocktails with whatever they had at hand and the name and the drink stuck.
Do you have a favorite cocktail recipe from your book that is most special to you, or most meaningful, and why?
All 144 recipes in Cocktail Chameleon are meaningful as they were created for celebratory moments or have significance in pop culture, history or geography. It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite recipe and if find it impossible to narrow it down as I am reminded what makes each one special. Whether it is a unique ingredient, the inspiration or the reactions when they were first enjoyed, each has a story that is told in call-out text that accompanies the cocktail images.
I have go to classic cocktails that I enjoy more frequently such has the Bloody Mary, Martini, Manhattan, Margarita and Sangria. Each cocktail one makes offers an opportunity to make a new variation by altering one ingredient, proportions, glassware and garnishes to suit ones’ mood or the occasion. That is the spirit of Cocktail Chameleon, set your imagination free and always taste as you go, letting your palate be your guide as you invent your own signature cocktails!
What Inspires you to create a new cocktail?
That’s the great thing about cocktails: There’s no limit to what can inspire them and to the creative combinations possible. My sources of inspiration have been as diverse as a holiday, literary character, favorite film or particular color. These affect the choice of ingredients, of course, but also the name and the glassware. As necessity is the mother of invention therefore, I often create new cocktails based on the ingredients at hand, which has become a celebrated tradition of entertaining with my friends and family.
What’s exciting in the cocktail/mixology scene today?
Shaken or stirred, made of at least three ingredients and often multiple spirits, cocktails are a thing of glamour and sophistication that transcends the average bar drink. Though it has come in and out of vogue, the cocktail has never disappeared and is currently enjoying a roaring resurgence sparked by a new appreciation for artisanal craft and traditional techniques with a modern flair.
There is an ever-expanding world of resources available to home cocktail enthusiasts that were once known exclusively to master mixologists; from professional-style barware and tools in luxurious finishes and materials designed for the home mixologist to esoteric ingredients and international wines and spirits are only a click away through online shopping sites from around the world and in your own home town. So, your imagination truly is the only limit.
We mentioned earlier that you wear many hats: TV personality, event planner, designer, producer, entertaining expert, and now author. What is your favorite role to play and how would you personally define yourself today?
My favorite part of my work is the moment a guests walks into an event environment I’ve designed or take that first sip of a cocktail prepared just for them and they are surprised and delighted by the experience. My goal in all of my creative endeavors is to do just that… to surprise and delight. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy the process, I very much do every step of the way but what really excites me is to see someone enjoying the fruit of my labor.
The creative process of writing, editing and photographing a book of 144 cocktail recipes was very different from the process of designing and producing an event to TV segment. With my collection of recipes in hand, the design and production of the book took two years from start to finish and it wouldn’t be what is has become without the inspired contributions from my team of writers, editors, food stylists and illustrators and the magical touch of Assouline Publishing. The collaboration on the photography with my incredibly talented brother and photographer, Christopher Yoham was a highlight in the creation of the book.
With the launch of Cocktail Chameleon, my new role is to go out and share the book and cocktail recipes with the world through demonstrations, tastings and retail partnerships, where I have the opportunity to work one-on-one with aspiring “mixologists” of all levels of interest and curiosity in crafting their own signature cocktails to share with family and friends. I have since launch my own web series “Shaking Things Up!” where I discuss the fundamentals of cocktails and entertaining while shaking up (or stirring) a cocktail or three. Go to our Calendar of Events for dates and times for upcoming shows and visit “Shaking Things Up” category in our blog for past show videos.