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Cocktails in New York, by Anthony Giglio

Suzanne F

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One of the books I worked on recently is now out: Cocktails in New York by Anthony Giglio (who is, in fact, an eG member, which I didn't know when I worked on it). It's sort of a companion to The New York Restaurant Cookbook, also brought out by Rizzoli. It's all recipes from some of the top bars and lounges in the city -- including the famously difficult-to-enter Milk and Honey -- with some other very good information. Unfortunately, it does not include the recipe for Beacon's ab fab Flaming Orange Gully :raz: but as someone who knows very little about the craft of the cocktail, I learned a whole lot from it. I'd be interested to find out the reactions of those here who DO know about this stuff. I can definitely say that it made me thirsty for something more interesting than my usual fino sherry aperitif. :laugh:

You can purchase it here on Amazon.

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Yeah, Anthony had his book party at Flatiron the other night, and I got to take a peek. It looks like a real beauty!

Also just out is Nick Mautone's "Raising The Bar". This is another fabulous book, chock-filled with recipes for making just about everything from scratch. I highly recommend both.


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  • 4 weeks later...

So... I purchased a copy of this book a few weeks ago and have read through it a few times. It's a good book and well-written for the most part. In essence, it features short descriptions of 100 bars, including a number of restaurant bars, along with a description and recipe for what the author feels is an outstanding cocktail from that bar.

One good reason to buy the book is that it brings a lot of NYC bars to one's attention that might otherwise be overlooked. With a list of 100 bars, there are sure to be a few off the radar of even the most dedicated barhound. Featured are hotel bars like The King Cole Bar and Lounge at the St. Regis and Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle, restaurant bars like Calle Ocho and Beacon and standalone places like Flatiron Lounge and Boxcar Lounge. Notwithstanding what is, in my opinion, the unfortunate omission of Angel's Share, wd-50 and Milk and Honey, Cocktails in New York is a nicely comprehensive survey of most of the cool places to go for a well-crafted drink in the City.

The book is divided in to 8 sections: Proven Classics, New Standards, Cosmo Capital, Mixologist Made, Creative License, Secret Ingredients, House Spirits and Liquid Desserts.

The Proven Classics section, as one might imagine, includes such cocktails as the Martini, Manhattan and Sidecar. Most any cocktail enthusiast will be familiar with all the cocktails in this section, so it is mostly interesting for the descriptions of bars like The Four Seasons bar, Old Town Bar & Grill, the bar at Patroon and others. My only quibble with this section is that it includes Campbell Apartment's Prohibition Punch, which due to its recent provenance hardly belongs alongside the true "proven classics" in this section. It was also disappointing to the purist to see the Monkey Bar's non-classic Manhattan made with Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Whiskey rather than bourbon or, preferably, rye. That said, one assumes that the author was (rightfully) obliged to write the recipes the way the bartenders mixed the drinks (more on this later).

Next is the New Standards section. This features drinks like Suba's Spanish Manhattan (Maker’s Mark, oloroso sherry and Peychaud's bitters) Tribeca' Grill's Greenwich Fizz (gin, maraschino, lime juice and ginger ale) and Fifty Seven Fifty Seven Bar's Bigger Apple Martini. There are several great new drinks in this section. In particular, the aforementioned Spanish Manhattan and Greenwich Fizz caught my eye, as well as Schiller Liquor Bar's New York Sour (blended whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, red wine and a touch of orange juice) and Blue Ribbon's Pear Martini (Belle de Brillet, Absolut Citron and lime juice). I'm not quite sure why this section is called "New Standards" though. Several of the drinks, notably the Mojito, Rum Julep, Pisco Sour and Caipirinha, hardly strike me as "new" cocktails, and I would hesitate to call the others "standards" (with the possible exception of the "Dark and Stormy"). This is not to say that they aren't appealing drinks, however, just that their placement in this chapter seems odd to me. Strangely, in the section on City Hall's Rum Julep, the author writes: ". . . this isn't a 'proper' Julep in the Kentucky Derby sense -- where bourbon is mandatory . . ." As far as I know, mint juleps have been made with bourbon, rum, applejack, brandy, rye and even gin since the very beginning. Other than the use of a flavored rum (Bacardi Limón), the version presented seems relatively traditional.

Next is the chapter called "Cosmo Capital." As one might imagine, it consists of seven variations on the Cosmopolitan. Interestingly, the Cosmo is the only post-Prohibition cocktail that so far seems like a "new standard" with staying power.

Following is a very interesting chapter entitled "Mixologist Made." All cocktails are "mixologist made" when it comes down to it, but I suppose this title is an indication that the drinks were conceived by noteworthy figures in today's NYC cocktail world. Featured are Audrey Saunders' Tantris Sidecar at Bemelmans Bar, Julie Reiner's Cherry Smash from Flatiron Lounge and Jerri Banks's Indian Rose at Taj. among several other interesting concoctions. A very interesting look at what some of the "new old school" are doing in NYC.

The Creative License chapter is another one where I'm not quite sure about the organizing principle. Nevertheless, there are some very interesting drinks here. The Spring Fling from Mark's Bar (silver tequila, triple sec, orange juice and pineapple juice on the rocks) sounds like a winner to me, as do Beacon's Kentucky Pear (Jim Beam Black, Poire William, simple syrup, lemon juice and splash of cranberry on the rocks) and Craftbar's Basil-Mint Mojito. I'm even tempted to try Cherry's Wet Water Martini (Beefeater Wet, Chambord and Power-C Vitamin Water) despite the "club kid" last ingredient.

Moving on we reach the chapter on "Secret Ingredients," featuring drinks with unusual or unsuspected constituents. Among the standouts for me were Town's Convent in Chile (kumquats, brown sugar, lime juice, Charbay Blood Orange vodka and splashes of grapefruit and cranberry), Biltmore Room's Way of the Dragon (Hangar One Mandarin Blossom, kalamansi lime juice, honey, mint leaves, sour mix and cayenne pepper) and Babbo's Cin-Cyn (Junipero gin, Cinzano sweet vermouth, Cynar, orange bitters and a splash of orange juice).

Coming into the home stretch is a chapter on House Spirits with twelve house-branded cocktails from various watering holes, and the final chapter on Liquid Desserts which features sweet cocktails. Some drinks that caught my eye were Stone Rose’s eponymous cocktail (Woodford Reserve bourbon, Grand Mariner, cranberry juice and a touch of sour mix and simple syrup) and First’s Apple Core (apple vodka, Berentzen Apfelkorn apple schnapps, lemon juice, a splash of cider and a top of apple foam).

If I have one criticism of Cocktails in New York it is that I didn’t find quite as many cocktail recipes that appealed to me as I had hoped I might. This is undoubtedly a reflection of what people are making rather than any fault of the author. The book opens with a nice forward by Tony Abou-Ganim, who writes: “A cocktail should, first and foremost, focus on the base spirit.” This accords one hundred percent with my own preference when it comes to cocktails. Unfortunately for me, cocktails like Cibar’s Suffering Bastard, which contains Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, Malibu rum, Myers rum, high proof rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cranberry juice were not all that uncommon. This is, needless to say, not a cocktail that focuses on the base spirit. Another disappointment for me was that around forty percent of the cocktails had a vodka base and vodka is, I think, the least preferred liquor upon which to found a cocktail. Some of the vodka cocktails were interesting, but it’s hard for me to get excited about something like Jean-George’s Frostbite, which is simply vodka mixed with icewine. On the other hand, Cocktails in New York is really only half about the cocktail recipes anyway, so there was still plenty there to hold my interest.

All in all, this is a very nice book for those seeking new spots of interest in NYC’s cocktail scene. Not for nothing is New York an epicenter of the new cocktail renaissance. But beyond that, Cocktails in New York should appeal to most any home cocktail enthusiast with well written, interesting vignettes and a wide variety of recipes. The various indices at the back of the book are, as one would expect, informative and easy to reference. Anthony Giglio is an eGullet Society member, and I’d love to hear his thoughts.

NB. Although I provided some ingredient lists for various cocktails, I deliberately did not post any formulae from the book. You gotta buy the book for those.


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