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Cocktail Books: The Topic

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#31 WoBuJiDao

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Posted 16 October 2005 - 09:19 AM

I enjoyed the Gary Regan book and think it's a good overview of mixing cocktails. It was my first real cocktail book (in college I had a simple recipe book, like everybody else) and I also enjoy the straightforward approach where he emphasizes the balance between ingredients and the similarities between different cocktails.

But I also think it has some serious problems - too many archaic or obscure drinks that should stay archaic or obscure. Classes of drinks that should not exist (I guess I'm mostly thinking of those "squirrel drinks"). The concept of a proper Manhattan being Bourbon Whiskey with lots of vermouth and a Maraschino cherry (ugh). Lots of other drinks where I just thought the ratios weren't very well chosen. Most of all the book is just dry, it felt like something to be studied. Granted I did more-or-less study the book, but it clashes with the cocktail culture, and it also means it's not really something you loan to a friend.

I strongly prefer the Splificator books, the drinks are a lot better and the books are a lot more fun.

#32 fatdeko

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 01:59 AM

...but it clashes with the cocktail culture, and it also means it's not really something you loan to a friend.

I strongly prefer the Splificator books, the drinks are a lot better and the books are a lot more fun.

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I nearly lost a friend over Gary's book.

A fellow bartender borrowed my copy of Gary's book and then went through a messy divorce. While he languished/mellowed in a hotel, my book rested in his wife's house and she wasn't letting anything out untill she got satisfaction.
It was almost 8 months before I had the book back in my hands, after a stressful time of wondering if she would make good on her threats to throw everything into the fireplace or the bay or the ocean or simply set fire to the whole mess in order to save the decision making.

In that sense, I suppose you're right, JOM shouldn't be leant to friends.

How JoM clashes with "Cocktail Culture" is beyond me.
Insofar as we're talking about real cocktail culture versus the oxymoronic version, (neither 'cocktails' nor 'culture'-- like that which is practiced in "Clubs") I think Regan picks up where Grimes leaves off, and does a real handy job of distilling the weird and rich tradition of American Drinking into something of a jouneyman's handbook, a primer, if you will, for those who want to 'Get' the drinks that they serve.

If stew is too rich, perhaps you like soup.

Wondrich is great also. His works have a smart-alecky, cynical and snarky voice, tinged with a heavy-metallist's frustration at having spent the last 18 hrs in the New York Public Library.

myers

#33 Alchemist

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 08:31 AM

Joy of Mixology, is amazing. I like to get compare the recipe's with the ones in Bartenders best friend (pardon the spelling it's early on sat. morn). One gets a well rounded, venus/mars, view of a drink. And sometime you must wonder if the marriage was on the line over a quarter ounce of Benidictine.



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#34 slkinsey

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 09:18 AM

I like Joy of Mixology very much. It's one of the several books to which I find myself returning again and again. I think it's especially useful the way that he highlights the various "families" of cocktails. There is no other book of which I am aware that points out the familial relationship between a Sidecar, a Margarita and a Cosmopolitan. This makes it easy to create your own drinks and also helps you to identify other drinks that will suit your palate.

That said, every cocktail book will reflect the biases and tastes of the author, unless it is a strictly historical book. Even there, the author has some editorial choices to make (viz. Ted Haig's Pegu Club formula in "Forgotten Cocktails"). This is no more true of Gary's book than it is of Dave Wondrich's books or Dale DeGroff's book, etc. Whether your tastes accord with Gary's will, to a certain extent, determine how much you like the recipes in the book. I find some of Gary's and Dale's recipes to be a touch on the sweet side for me, just as I find some of Dave's recipes to be a touch on the sour side -- so I adjust accordingly. Untimately, this is what mixing cocktails is all about: using your palate and mixing the drinks according to your individial taste. One thing I think Gary's book does well is provide a background understanding of how each cocktail is structured so that you have a basis for tailoring the drink to your own preferences.

In terms of the recipes, Joy of Mixology strikes me as being very much in the same tradition as books such as Dale's Craft of the Cocktail. . . some classic cocktails given with the author's customized formulae and an equal or greater number of the author's own personal creations. If you just want a library of classic cocktails in their most historical formulae, you should throw away your books and avail yourself of the excellent CocktailDB Internet Cocktail Database.

I do agree that he might have been a little carried away adding the "squirrel sour" family, which is more or less an invention of his own and I'm not sure belongs alongside things like the "New Orleans sour" family. But they're interesting drinks nonetheless.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#35 Splificator

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 10:56 AM

His works have a smart-alecky, cynical and snarky voice, tinged with a heavy-metallist's frustration at having spent the last 18 hrs in the New York Public Library. 

Well, actually, it's a bookworm's frustration at having spent the last 18 hours riffing repetitively in E minor with all the pots pegged to eleven.

\m/
aka David Wondrich

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#36 Rob Simmon

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 06:52 PM

I do agree that he might have been a little carried away adding the "squirrel sour" family, which is more or less an invention of his own and I'm not sure belongs alongside things like the "New Orleans sour" family.  But they're interesting drinks nonetheless.

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I've tried a few of the squirrels, and the only one that's a keeper (in my mind) is the New Jersey Squirrel: applejack, creme de noyau, and lemon juice. (I think it should be renamed the "Jersey Girl," but that's just me.) I can't help but wonder if they would be improved if any noyau save the painfully artificial types were available in the states.

#37 Rob Simmon

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 07:10 PM

Those are all fine, serious books.

How about the other side of cocktail culture.

Maybe a tiki book or two?  Something by Jeff Berry?

-Erik

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Grog Log and Intoxica are both loads of fun, although I don't think you really need to buy the 30 or so specific types of rum specified. Maybe somebody could have a crack at categorizing the rum styles into a more manageable number?

My favorite: Beachbum's Own

#38 dsquare

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 12:35 PM

Admin: Threads merged.


I am looking for my first book on the subject of cocktails. I would like it to include classic recipes, history, and sage advice. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Dave

#39 limewine

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 12:51 PM

Three books immediately come to mind, especially if you're starting out and want some history and perspective to go along with your drinks. What's more, all three are pretty easy to find.

* David Wondrich's Esquire Drinks is one of the first books I try to foist on anyone showing an interest in cocktails. Wondrich (Splificator as he's known in these parts) has a taste for the classics, he has the history down solid and he has an experienced palate so the recipes have all been well-researched.

* Dale DeGroff's Craft of the Cocktail has a good historical overview, plus a ton of recipes for both classics as well as stuff more recent.

* Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology also has a very readable historical overview, plus Gary breaks out cocktails into different families, which makes it easy to get your head around a lot of classic drinks.

There are a lot of decent books out there, and even more that aren't, but any of these three can be a great first step.

Paul
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#40 slkinsey

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 01:05 PM

I am looking for my first book on the subject of cocktails.  I would like it to include classic recipes, history, and sage advice.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

IMO the hands-down best starter book on cocktails is Dave Wondrich's Killer Cocktails : An Intoxicating Guide to Sophisticated Drinking. For more information, see this thread on the book
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#41 Splificator

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 04:24 PM

Thanks, gents, for the very kind words. I'd like to add that, once you've secured your starter book (Gary's and Dale's are both magnificent), it's not a bad idea to go right to the source and pick up a reprint of either Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide, if you're mostly interested in saloon-era drinks, or the magnificent Savoy Cocktail Book; not everything in them will be clear, but either one (or both) will give you plenty to play around with and will let you uncover your own forgotten classics.

Happy mixing!
--DW
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#42 Alchemist

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 06:05 PM

I was just takling to the keeper of cocktail books for the New York Public Library. She was waxing poetic about watching the taste of America go from dry to sweet, to sweeter, 'til the ugly '70's hit and White zin and goopy drinks reigned supreme. She assured me that we are back on the right path. The cocktails are getting drier, and with the acess to interesting products the golden age of cocktail is in full swing. "Let them drink cosmos" is the cry from the establishment. We are imbibing beter than ever.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#43 Marya

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 09:59 PM

Admin: threads merged

While browsing at Powell's Books for a decent Bartender's guide, I became overwhelmed. Since I have virtually no experience with the subject, I hoped some of you Spirits Gods could steer me in the right direction. I'd like a book that incorporates the old standards but also includes the newer spirits and mixes.

#44 fatdeko

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 11:39 PM

If you're going to buy one book that'll suit your needs for recipes, but satisfy your yen for why and how, pick up Gary Regan's "Joy of Mixology" or Dale DeGroff's "Craft of the Cocktail".

Better yet, get 'em both.

myers

#45 Alchemist

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 09:59 AM

Must agree with those two. Like cook books one is just not going to do. I would also get American Bar, the Savoy, and then Charles H. Bakers Jigger Beaker and Glass because it's such an amazing read. It's important to remember that a recipe is ONLY A GUIDELINE, that your palate may be slightly different. Don't be afraid to jiggle the measurements, or riff a little and add a flavor. It is always best to make a cocktail for yourself first, not 20 minutes before a party for your boss, in case it is hideous. And by that I mean not to your palate.

Another good thing to know is if you need to know is if you need to make a bunch of cocktails just use cups instead of ounces. It may need a little tweaking at the end but it gets you on in the ballpark quickly.

Remember to use dry, cold ice, and lots of it. Shake you cocktails like a jackhammer, stir them to the texture of velvet. and use garnish.

Making cocktails is so much fun. It is one of the few organileptic art forms. A wonderful cocktail should whisper sweet everything’s in your ear, be beautiful to behold, magic to touch, smell as enchanting as a maharaja's feast, and taste...well it should remind you of your grandma's ice tea, or it should transport you, taste like endless possibilities, like nothing you've ever had. A well made cocktail should dance on your tongue and be mind blowing, a religious experience
.



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#46 rlummis

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 07:53 PM

I agree that no one book will suffice. In addition to the above suggestions, I also have liked "Raising the Bar" by Nick Mautone.

#47 rancho_gordo

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 09:49 PM

I was a cocktail fanatic for years and started at a young age. I found The Gentlemen's Companion and The South American Gentlemen's Companion in a used bookstore and these were my bibles for both and food and drink. They hold up remarkably well. I even had a small career as a bartender and then a B-list media personality right before the whole lounge thing happened. At one pont I read David Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks and I came to the conclusion that there were lots of fun and silly drinks but there were really only five or so classics. I stuck with these for years but when the era of chocolate martinis and apple martinis and shaken martinis descended upon us, I sort of gave up and switched to tequila, beer or wine. I almost never drink cocktails anymore and I'm not sure why. Actually, I don't drink much at all. But I'll never say never and maybe there's another cocktail revival within me yet.
This is my very long-winded way of saying that Embury's book was seminal for me and I don't know if it's still in print but my memory is that it's worth having.
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#48 Marya

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Posted 30 July 2006 - 11:14 PM

I'm not searching for the contrived and overly sweet concoctions. I am, however, very interested in the South American, Asian inspired and new takes on the old favorites. A couple of you have waxed poetic on the subject and I appreciate the information, but most of all, I really like your passionate prose. Thanks.

#49 slkinsey

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 09:26 AM

Marya, if you are a relative beginner in cocktails, you can do a lot worse than Dave Wondrich's Killer Cocktails : An Intoxicating Guide to Sophisticated Drinking. For more information, see this thread on the book.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#50 Marya

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 02:31 PM

slkinsey,

Relative beginner is an overstatement when it comes to my experience with mixed drinks. Being originally from Brasil, I can make a mean caipirinha and various batidas. Other than that, it's the Campari, Lillet and Pimm's Cup route during the dog days of summer. I've been drinking wine for so long that I've seriously neglected other alcoholic beverages. After helping some friends pour wine on Memorial Day weekend, we went out for dinner and various cocktails were ordered. I can honestly say that I experienced an epiphany while sampling some of them. Now I want to learn this new artform and be as proficient at it as I can be.

#51 johnder

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 03:14 PM

I second Sam's choice for a great book. It is very illustrative and gives a good description of the required equipment you need for a proper bar.
John Deragon

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#52 Rob Simmon

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 07:14 PM

I prefer Regan's Joy of Mixology as an all-around book to Wondrich's. It has a wider selection of drinks, and is easier to browse than the oddly laid-out Killer Cocktails. Regan's categorization of drink families is also enlightening if you're interested in crafting your own cocktails.

#53 johnder

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 07:27 PM

I agree with you. Joy definately contains more recipes and details about drinks, but Daves book definately has the pictures and humor going for it hence the recommendation for the first book. I agree about the binding of the book -- it is serious annoying. So much so that I cut the binding off the top and rebound the book at work on the side.

John
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I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

#54 slkinsey

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 07:46 AM

The thing that I like about Dave's book for a beginner -- and where I think it has the advantage over Gary's (excellent) book in that regard -- is that it has a managably small number of recipes. Unlike any other book of which I am aware, I think a complete beginner could go through Dave's book, make around half of the cocktails therein (30 or so), and come out at the end well on the way to becoming a cocktail connoisseur. I'd rather share drinks with soomeone who had gone through Killer Cocktails as a cocktail beginner than someone who had been drinking Cosmopolitans and Fuzzy Navels for 10 years.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#55 ned

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 07:11 AM

Making cocktails is so much fun.  It is one of the few organileptic art forms.

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You sent me to m-w

Good word and I agree.
You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

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#56 Alchemist

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 12:47 PM

m-w? like the oed?



A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

#57 slkinsey

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 12:58 PM

Merriam-Webster Online.
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#58 birder53

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 04:59 AM

My first cocktail book was Craft of the Cocktail. It has fabulous photos of beautifully garnished drinks. Inspiring!

While not a book, I also use the cocktail section of Drink Boy quite a bit. When it comes down to picking a version of a drink from all the various recipes out there, we usually find Robert's versions to our liking. Gary's "Joy" is the second most used recipe source at our house.
KathyM

#59 ned

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 09:57 AM

m-w?  like the oed?

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Like oed.com but free.
You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

#60 Danne

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 01:36 PM

Admin: Threads merged.

I'm looking for books that can help me become a better bartender.
So I´m looking for books that has both classic recipes and new cocktails and a lot of educating information.
I really don't care about the price, I need good books that I can read again and again and again. My only demand is that the book can be shipped to Sweden.
I've looked around a bit, and this is what I've come up with:

the Savoy Cocktail Book

Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide

Dale DeGroff's Craft of the Cocktail

The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century, by Paul Harrington and Laura Moorhead

Gary Regan's The Bartender's Bible

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails : From the Alamagoozlum Cocktail to the Zombie

Can someone help me with filling my list, what books are a "must have?"





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