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Imbibe!


Scotttos
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Saw this on amazon this morning, I'm incredibly excited about it, haven't seen it mentioned on the boards...from the publisher:

Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar, by David Wondrich, foreword by Dale Degroff.

A lively, historically informed, and definitive guide to classic American cocktails.

Cocktail writer and historian David Wondrich presents the colorful, little-known history of classic American drinks-and the ultimate mixologist's guide-in this engaging homage to Jerry Thomas, father of the American bar.

Wondrich reveals never-before-published details and stories about this larger-than-life nineteenth-century figure, along with definitive recipes for 100 punches, cocktails, sours, fizzes, toddies, slings, and other essential drinks, plus twenty new recipes from today's top mixologists, created exclusively for this book.

This colorful and good-humored volume is a mustread for anyone who appreciates the timeless appeal of a well-made drink-and the uniquely American history behind it.

Edited by Scotttos (log)
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I believe the new book is more of a "history with drinks" type book, perhaps not dissimilar to Wayne Curtis' "...And a Bottle of Rum." Well, with more drinks and a different cast of characters.

"Esquire Drinks", on the other hand, was a revisiting of the various drink recipes Esquire Magazine had published over the years in books and magazines, with some history and stories. But, the primary focus was the cocktails, not the history.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Think the publisher will put up for a book tour / roadshow to promote the book?

I received the galley proofs of the book today. There is no mention of a tour/roadshow to promote it outside of NYC, radio, and online, but I think he travels a lot so who knows.

On first glance the book appears to be a lot more history than (a little over 100) recipes, divided into drink families. (And since it's Wondrich, you know there's going to be a lot about punch.)

I'll be reviewing it closer to the publication date, but let's just accept that it's going to be fabulous and this is the cocktail nerd's Harry Potter. (Spoiler! Jerry Thomas dies.)

Camper English, Alcademics.com

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How does it differ from Esquire Drinks? I was planning on buying it, but should I just wait for Imbibe instead?

You should definitely get both. On any given day, Esquire Drinks is my favorite drink book to use. It's fetching obscene prices for used copies right now on Amazon but if you find a good deal, grab it. And just to be safe you should probably get Killer Cocktails, too.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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i just pre-ordered the book... i own no cocktail books except what can be downloaded on google books... i can't wait. the bonvivants companion is what got me interested in making liqueurs. i hope that quince liqueur and decanter bitters are covered in the book... i need a nice source for pine splinters to add to my cans of sloe gin... (that is if specialty produce comes through with the sloes)

abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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How does it differ from Esquire Drinks? I was planning on buying it, but should I just wait for Imbibe instead?

You should definitely get both. On any given day, Esquire Drinks is my favorite drink book to use. It's fetching obscene prices for used copies right now on Amazon but if you find a good deal, grab it. And just to be safe you should probably get Killer Cocktails, too.

-Andy

Wow! You aren't kidding. I hadn't looked at the Amazon price on Esquire Drinks previously. Glad I snagged a used copy for $1 this week (it was marked $3, but they gave me an additional discount at the register). :cool:

Tim

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First off, thanks to all for your support and curiosity about this beast.

Here's a general idea of what the book contains:

-A life of Jerry Thomas, with lots of never-before revealed incidents, interviews, etc.

-A brief history of American bartending.

-100+ drinks, divided into families and each with the original, unadapted recipe supplemented with historical and mixological notes as full as I could get away with.

-A plethora of miscellaneous anecdotes, digressions, queries, thumbnail sketches and whatnot.

-A section of drinks inspired by the Professor from many of the guiding lights of modern mixology.

Here's what it doesn't contain:

-The 35,000-word section I wrote on punchbowl drinks. Not only did this make the book unpublishably long, but it turns out that most of these were pinched from other books, not from Thomas's own experience and travels. I'm working on turning them into a book on their own.

-Where to get pine splints (sorry, b.a.)

-Pousse Cafes

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

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[...]i need a nice source for pine splinters to add to my cans of sloe gin[...]

Not to derail discussion of Dave's book...

I guess I'd avoid a lumber yard, since most of that wood is heat cured and treated.

But, uh, really, don't you just need a pine tree (preferably not in proximity to any serious industrial run-off, herbicide, or insecticide use), a saw, and an axe?

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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  • 1 month later...

Good coverage of "Imbibe" today in the new york times, including an article by William Grimes, a chapter from the book, a slideshow, and a few recipes:

Imbibe NYT

Like Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone and Buffalo Bill Cody, [Jerry Thomas] was the sort of self-invented, semimythic figure that America seemed to spawn in great numbers during its rude adolescence. More than a century after his death, he still casts a spell, a palpable influence on Dale DeGroff, chief animator of cocktail’s new wave, and his many progeny, from Eben Klemm of the B. R. Guest restaurant group to Audrey Saunders at the Pegu Club.

Thomas finally gets his due in “Imbibe!” (Perigee Books, $23.95), a biography and annotated recipe book by David Wondrich. Mr. Wondrich, a former classics scholar and the drink correspondent for Esquire, was intrigued by the often-puzzling recipes in Thomas’s book, and frustrated by Herbert Asbury, whose fancifully embellished version of Thomas’s life, presented in a reprint of the 1887 edition of “The Bon-Vivant’s Companion,” wraps sparse facts in a thick layer of myth, conjecture and purple prose.

Mr. Wondrich puts the drinks in context, with their ingredients explained, their measurements accurately indicated, and their place in the overall cocktail scheme clearly mapped out.

Edited by Scotttos (log)
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The LA Times also has an article on it today, with recipes for the Sazerac, Japanese Cocktail, Prince of Wales cocktail (new to me - sounds tasty), and Crusta.

THE cocktail is "essentially an American contraption," writes David Wondrich in "Imbibe!," his new history/celebration of 19th century mixology: "How could it be anything but? It's quick, direct and vigorous. It's flashy and a little bit vulgar. It induces an unreflective overconfidence. It's democratic, forcing the finest liquors to rub elbows with ingredients of far more humble stamp. It's profligate with natural resources (think of all the electricity generated to make ice that gets used for 10 seconds and discarded).

"In short, it rocks."

I just hit the Amazon pre-order button.

Edited by jmfangio (log)

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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Huh, that's odd, November 6 on Amazon.

The copy I pre-ordered from Powell's Books arrived last week.

Interesting that the NY Times is suggesting that folks make Blue Blazers in their homes.

Can't wait to see the letters to the editor from that!

(They are really cool, though. The last time we tried it, my wife arrived at the conclusion that no one who makes Blue Blazers needs air fresheners. Burning whisk(e)y has a much more pleasant and comforting smell than any commercial air freshener.)

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I was quite depressed to come to the end of Wondrich's "Imbibe!" this morning.

Few eating, or drinking, books have so transported me from my day-to-day existence and into their world, (and believe me, since I most often do my reading on San Francisco's public transportation, this is necessary!)

Rather than try to compete with him and his skillful mastery of the written word, I will just point out that Paul Clarke has already written an amazing review over on his blog:

IMBIBE! (no, the other one)

But while a survey of the drinks of past eras can be enjoyed from an academic angle, this is mixology, an interactive form of art best appreciated by those with open gullets and unquenchable thirsts. After spending the first 48 pages re-creating the mid-19th century world Thomas inhabited, along with the evolutionary path the drinks followed, Wondrich chalks up his cue with a short but immensely valuable survey of spirits and bar tools, then runs the table for the rest of the book, working methodically through chapters on punches; “the children of punch;” egg drinks; toddies, slings & juleps; and, ultimately, cocktails (a couple of chapters on current drinks and bitters & syrups are tacked on for good measure).

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Paul Clarke has already written an amazing review over on his blog:

IMBIBE! (no, the other one)

.....and Clarke's review begins with this gem: :laugh:

“In the absence of certainty, bullshit blooms.”

David Wondrich doesn’t get around to stating this mixographical truism until page 292 of IMBIBE!, but the statement could well have served as a seven-word pitch to potential publishers, citing the need for such a volume.

Love that quote. :cool:

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Just got my copy yesterday, and I'm loving it. The only reason that I'm not taking it on vacation with me on Tuesday is that it'll be too painful to read all those wonderful recipes, and the stories associated with them, and not be able to pop into the kitchen and whip something up.

(I am, however, bringing along a pile of Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming novels).

Edited by jmfangio (log)

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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  • 1 month later...

The book is getting a lot of attention. It seems everyone I talk to has heard of it. Even my folks, when they were in my apartment for thanksgiving they spotted it on my makeshift bar and my mom mentioned something about hearing about it somewhere. To put a point on that, my folks live in South Carolina....

Anyway. I'm bundling copies of "Imbibe!" with copies of "Killer Cocktails" and bottles of Peychaud's, Regan's Orange, and Angostura Bitters for christmas gifts this year. I'm hoping to spread the word near and far.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m on my second reading of this book it’s that enjoyable!

I was wondering if any would care to hazard a guess to the proportions of the Jack Frost Whiskey Sour using applejack, egg and cream mentioned on page 102?

Thanks, Rich

"The only time I ever said no to a drink was when I misunderstood the question."

Will Sinclair

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I was wondering if any would care to hazard a guess to the proportions of the Jack Frost Whiskey Sour using applejack, egg and cream mentioned on page 102?

Since I'm at my in-laws (in sunny Southern CA) I picked up what I needed from the BevMo (WHY don't we have liquor stores this well stocked in NJ? Six bottles of bonded Laird's on the shelf!).

Here are the proportions I tried so far.

2 oz Laird's bonded applejack brandy

1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

1/2 egg white (carton, pasteurized egg whites - about 3/4 oz)

1/4 oz heavy cream

Vigorously shaken and strained into chilled cocktail glass

I liked it enough to have two but I may play with the egg white and heavy cream ratio.

Any suggestions?

PS Yes, I'm shipping a few bottles back to NJ whence they came.

"The only time I ever said no to a drink was when I misunderstood the question."

Will Sinclair

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, thanks all for the kind words and support (and I'm still trying to figure out which book I snagged that jack Frost Sour from ,so I can give the full formula).

Loth as I am to engage in shameless self-promotion, I'll be speaking next Friday (January 18th) at the fabulous new Astor Center in New York about Jerry Thomas and his drink. I'll talk about a bunch of things that didn't make it into the and demonstrate a few of the more arcane of his drinks and one or two that aren't in the book (generous samples will of course be provided). Here's a link:

Drinking with the Professor

It'll be fun!

Edited for d'oh!

Edited by Splificator (log)

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

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