Friday, November 25, 2011

Classic Cocktail Books

Brandy Sour, Which I Enjoyed While
Composing this Post and May Explain
the More Egregious Typos
So, this came to me via my old buddy Robert Trogdon, who sent in a tweet:
  any rec for good cocktail book? Something old school.

A little too long a topic for 140 characters, so I'm jumping to the blog to record a few recommendations.

If you want to go REALLY old school, you have to go to Jerry Thomas's How to Mix Drinks, or, the Bon-Vivant's Companion (1862) which, most authorities agree, is the first bartender's manual published in the United States.  Fortunately, since it dates back to the Civil War, it is long out of copyright and readily available online at Google Books and many other places.

But, unless you're just a total cheapskate, it's well worth plunking down a few bucks for David Wondrich's Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar.  Despite its impressively 19th century title, it's a recent work (2007) that draws from the recipes in Thomas's original guide and adds a lot of great historical anecdotes and also solid, helpful advice on translating the old formulae and ingredients to the modern bar.

I recently ordered Stanley Clisby Arthur's Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em, an essential 1937 work that is a time capsule of classic recipes from American's most important cocktail city.

And, perhaps the book I reach to most when actually mixing a cocktail is Dale DeGroff's The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks, it's got a great selection of both classic and modern cocktails, and DeGroff's deft hand with ingredients results in recipes that are always just a bit tastier and more interesting that other bar guides.

Hope this helps, Troggie, and I hope we can lift a glass together soon!

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