• 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

361 posts in this topic

"* 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)

Marty McCabe

Boston, MA

Acme Cocktail Company

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.


Paul Clarke

Seattle

The Cocktail Chronicles

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.


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

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:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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.


A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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/


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

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.


Dave

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


Paul Clarke

Seattle

The Cocktail Chronicles

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


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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


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

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.


A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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

.


A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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 Mike.jj
      Hello Egullet family.. its good to be back on here, been away for a while, i hope to find some new trending recipes .. and be ready to get some African dish recipes for those who love African Dishes, You can Read and  Download  Mp3 Audios here of some Nigerian dishes, and there are more coming in which i would be placing on here.. Thanks
    • By FrogPrincesse
      I've been eying this book since I heard about its upcoming release. For me, a cocktail book with a French slant is a hugely appealling. I flipped through it at my local bookstore and was compelled to buy it when I saw a recipe calling for Byrrh, along with a few re-interpreted classics. The recipes are not overly complex and generally don't call for esoteric ingredients. If you have Sam Ross' Bartender's Choice app, it's in the same vein but with a definite French (and international) touch, with recipes calling for things like Suze, Armagnac or Japanese whisky.
       
      Measurements are given in milliliters and ounces, and were probably conceived in metric so they can be a bit unusual sometimes, but this is not a big deal at all. Each recipe is provided with a little background about its creation or general concept, which I always find the most interesting part of these types of books.
       
      The first thing I mixed was the Byrrh cocktail of course. It had quite a few other ingredients, but luckily I had everything already on hand.
       
      Handsome Jack (Chris Tanner) with Rittenhouse straight rye, Pierre Ferrand 1840, Aperol, Byrrh, green Chartreuse, maple syrup, Angostura and Peychaud's bitters.
       
      As indicated in the notes, it is slightly on the sweet side but it has a slight bitterness that compensates for that (from the Byrrh and Aperol). The flavor is deep and complex. There is almost like a chestnut note with the maple syrup and cognac, and a nice kick from the rye. A very good fall/winter drink.
       
       

       
      Review of the book on Eater.
       
       
    • By Lisa Shock
      The team over at Modernist Cuisine announced today that their next project will be an in-depth exploration of bread. I personally am very excited about this, I had been hoping their next project would be in the baking and pastry realm. Additionally, Francisco Migoya will be head chef and Peter Reinhart will assignments editor for this project which is expected to be a multi-volume affair.
    • By liuzhou
      Another great article from the great Harold McGee. "The Science of Herbs and Spices" on Lucky Peach.
       
      Fascinating as ever.
       
      Now I just need to find the Chinese for "chitosan".
    • By Secret_Ingredient
      I emailed OXO a while ago, asking if they could design and market a thermocouple based thermometer. I reasoned that with their market penetration, the cost would be in the same range of current thermometers. I never heard back and cannot guess why there was no response.
       
      Most consumer grade digital thermometers use a thermistor. I had one of the first Polder Probe/wire (or cable) thermos and I loved it. It had a cable or wire, shielded in a metal braid. The new ones, use a silicon covering. Most of the reviews say that probe breaks and Polder has addressed that by adding a "handle" (of sorts) to the probe. Reasonable care while inserting and extracting the probe would have been more sensible by the reviewers who broke there devices, but the handle works, too.
       
      Still, this device and as I said above, most all temperature reading devices use a thermistor, or even a bi-metal strip (don't call me a perv!). The thermocouple devices read a much more accurate temperature range. From here on I'm spelling thermocouple as t/c.
       
      The Cook's Country (and under a multitude of other names) commonly shows the Thermapen t/c. At $100 it's pricey for the kitchen, but not for what it is. I imagine there are loads of industrial, scientific, and technical uses for it. There the $100 is worth it. The website: Cooking For Engineers sells the device for a "MERE" $79.  That site reviews a number of thermometers and puts the t/c on top.
       
      So dear reader, I must ask, why have the OXO's and Sur La Tables, Williams-Sonomas, and the like not found a way to place a t/c probe in a thermometer?
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.