Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

beans

Cocktail Books: The Topic

Recommended Posts

"* David Wondrich's Killer Cocktails - aside from Dr. Cocktail's book, the best drink-related thing to come out of 2004."

I have a near infinite amount of respect for Mr. Wondrich, and I totally agree that the content of "Killer Cocktails" is excellent. I would only urge him to re-consider the format.

Marty


Edited by marty mccabe (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a near infinite amount of respect for Mr. Wondrich, and I totally agree that the content of "Killer Cocktails" is excellent.  I would only urge him to re-consider the format.

I agree completely--sometimes when mixing a drink from Killer Cocktails, I wind up in a wrestling match with the flip-top format.

Though to be fair, I'm pretty sure the frustrating format is more the fault of the publishers than of Mr. Wondrich himself. He supplies the text we've grown to know and love, and they package it up--sometimes in ways less than satisfying to both the reader and the writer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gary Regan's is my all time favorite. I have a bunch of differnt Mr. Boston books from my old bartending days that i like. Different versions have different things in them. I also have something called Raising the Bar that my wife got me from a book club that I like. I can't remember the guy who wrote it name right now I think Nick somebody?


Edited by lancastermike (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off, thanks for all the kind words--if I did the smilies thing I'd put the blushy one in here (is there a lushy blushy one?)

Second off, how the sausage gets made:

He supplies the text...and they package it up

In other words, a friend of a friend calls up; her company is under contract to assemble a series of simple, colorful how-to books with a flip-open format. One of them is supposed to be on cocktails, and they just realized that it's due in a month and they don't have any real plan for it or even a writer. Wanna take a crack at it?

This explains why there's no Whiskey Sour in the book. I forgot.

The one advantage to the flip-top format is if you're making the drink you can stand the recipe up in front of you without looking around for stuff--kitchen timer, pint glasse, cell phone, falafel, the cat--to prop open the book. That's how it's designed to be used, anyway--you're not supposed to actually read the damn thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a result of reading this thread, I just went on a book buying binge on Amazon.

It's all of your fault. :angry::biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...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.

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By Tuber magnatum
      In the post below, there was a link to what looks to be a terrific book on beef cutting,  "The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional's Guide to Butchering and Merchandising".

      Reading some of the reviews on Amazon, I came across this video which I thought extremely educational, particularly seeing as I just bought a mixed 1/4 Wagyu carcass and wanted to learn more about the cuts I received , and I thought others might be interested.  Its long, but I found it much easier to understand than just looking at photos. Also referenced was the free pdf/webpage CFIA MEAT CUTS MANUAL.
       
       
       
       
    • By smeems
      Hi.  I'm brand new to this site.  I used to be on Chowhound but I see now that that site is a mess. I found this site and it looks pretty cool.  The main reason I joined is  I’m looking for recommendations for a restaurant to hold my wedding in March 2018. We were hoping maybe in Brooklyn but we are open to anything interesting. There will be 55-60 people and the ceremony will also be at the restaurant. I’m thinking of a brunch/early afternoon affair, most likely on a weekend. Would love to find a funky/old school/unique/charming type of place for my sweetheart. Inexpensive please! Thank you in advance!
    • By Kitchenista
      At this time of year when you can hoard fresh, local strawberries because they are so abundant, why not freeze them and enjoy them all year long. Then you won't have to buy tasteless, fake looking ones in the dead of winter!

      The best way to preserve them, sugar-free, and have them fresh, year-round is to freeze them. Remember to start with the freshest strawberries possible. Strawberries start to lose freshness and nutrients quickly and will only last a few days in the fridge, so the sooner you freeze them the better. Follow these steps and they will last up to a year in the freezer:
      1. Gently wash them and pat them dry or allow them to air dry for an hour or so. Slice off the tops, including the stem and any white area, then cut them in half lengthwise.
      2. Line one or more rimmed baking sheets (depending on how many berries you have) with parchment or SilPats. Arrange them in a single layer on the sheets. and place them, uncovered, or loosely covered with plastic wrap in the freezer. Allow them to freeze solid, about 12 hours. Once frozen, transfer the berries (they may stick to the parchment a bit, but peel off relatively easy) to a freezer weight plastic zipper bag. Press out as much of the air from the bag as possible before sealing, to minimize freezer burn over time. If you are planning to leave them in the freezer for months, then consider double bagging them. Place the bagged berries in the freezer, where they will keep for up to one year.
      Note: I will warn you that the thawed berries will not be firm and bright like they were when raw and fresh. They tend to thaw out a bit mushier, and slightly darker…but can still be used for anything you would use fresh strawberries for. For smoothies, use frozen.
      Optional: Brushing the berries with a bit of lemon juice before you freeze them will help to preserve their color. While strawberries can be frozen whole, cut or crushed, they will retain a higher level of their vitamin C content if left whole.
    • By boilsover
      My Breville BSO 800XL  just died on it's second birthday, after only *extremely* light use at my beach house.  Just won't power up.
       
      Reading online, I learned that a common failure mode is the thermal fuse blowing -WHICH IS DESIGNED TO BLOW AT <450F.  This is a $3 part at Radio Shack, and there is a detailed instruction on how to replace it here:  http://virantha.com/2014/03/02/fix-your-breville-smart-oven-by-replacing-the-thermal-fuse/
       
      So I guess I'll give fixing it myself a try and report back.  Has anyone here done this repair?  Was it successful?  And why would Breville use a fuse that is lower than the appliance's top heat settings?
       
      Thanks!
    • By Franzisaurus_Rex
      I've had an idea flowing across my brain waves over the last few months. It's on every channel and I'm getting ready to pull the trigger. 
      I'd like to try to braise a dish in my smoker. I am thinking of braising a rabbit, but the I'm not looking for guidance on the protein/ingredients, rather the technique. I turn to you, o internet, in hope you will tell me your secrets.
      Has anyone ever braised in their smoker before? I've done some research, but I haven't seen much on the "how to" for the technique. Here's my plan:
      - Brown the rabbits on skillet (stovetop)
      - Get the aromatics/other stuffz sweated browned, etc.
      - (MEANWHILE) Smoker heats up to 300-325 degrees.
      - Add stock to rabbit, bring to a simmer on the stove top.
      - Transfer to smoker, braise uncovered for 1-2 hours, then cover with foil to finish for as long as necessary.
      I've seen folks smoke and then braise, but I haven't seen much on the idea of braising something IN the smoker. I saw something on CookingwithMe.at about doing something similar with pork belly, but that's about it.
      All I know is that after using stock+drippings from a smoked turkey created this CRAZY MIND-BLOWING flavor, so I'm basing this a lot off that idea.
      -Franz
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×