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Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life Paperback – September 14, 2004
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-Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential
“Toby Cecchini is something of an expert in creating hospitable environments: for drinkers with his bar, and for readers with this book. He writes with a quiet, lucid style about a profession that is generally loud and chaotic, and he makes almost every aspect of his bartending vocation, including, and perhaps especially, the bad behavior of some of his patrons, totally engaging. He has also captured an essence of New York life in the way that Midwesterners are, for some reason, uniquely able to capture it. Finally, though this book’s title is an overt reference to a particular mixed drink, what it embodies and anatomizes so well is an outlook on the world, in this case from behind a bar.”
-Tom Beller, author of Seduction Theory and The Sleepover Artist
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Case in point: "I always marveled at the élan with which he pulled off that simple action; my efforts at duplicating this maneuver always end with me bludgeoning the recalcitrant glacier mercilessly as chips fly helter skelter." Um, call me crazy, but isn't that a mite highfalutin to describe watching someone chip ice? And while describing the staff at a restaurant where he used to work: "Even now, at the remove of more than a decade, it is easy to conjure, but difficult to summarize, the atmosphere of that floor, its peculiar combination of superfluous terror and incestuous, striving kinesis." Pal, the only reason it might be "difficult to summarize" a bunch of the interaction between a bunch of waiters, cooks, and bartenders, is because you're trying too hard. The last time I saw this much use of the word "lovely" was when I brought our daughter to my grandmother's senior center,
It gets worse.Read more ›
"Foodies," "restaurant people," hospitality workers, "bar dogs," "bar whores," however titled, are a definite sub-culture, observing humanity under a naked black light. Anthony Bourdain eloquently illustrated the inner workings of the restaurant and Toby Cecchini follows suit with his own distinctive style in autopsying the professional bartender and his personal life.
I personally know the feeling of inventing a drink, showing it off with pride, and the subsequent bombardment of requests by spirit-ignorant dilettantes, the bastardization of the recipe by anyone who ever picked up a bottle of well vodka, and the regret that churns your gastric acids on just hearing the name of your drink hurled through the air. Toby brings that mix of pride and disillusionment to light with humor and without crying over the loss of his monster.
Everyone who's ever been a bar or restaurant patron needs to read this book to try and pick themselves out of the crowd. Consider it a training manual in human behavior for the uninitiated and alcohol-impaired.
Regarding the Cosmopolitan, I'd have to say that despite occasional criticism from the new genre of "bar chef's"... what the hell does that mean anyway?Read more ›
Cecchini does an excellent job of relating to those of us who see the restaurant business (chiefly the bar business) as a career. In his stories, we may not know the person he speaks of, but we can relate to a similar experience of our own. This tongue-in-cheek, snide, sarcastically elequent style of writing at once shows you his level of intelligence, but he revels in the personal debasement that can drive us, disfunctionally, to continue allowing people to behave at their worst levels in our restaurants.
It is easy to see how a reader who rarely eats out, let alone has worked in the business, can see the author as whiny and pretentious. It's the same type that thinks anyone can bartend, how hard is it really? The best we can hope for is that those readers see the book as an eye opener, but at the least, we hope they see it as entertaining. For those of us that do this every night for a living, the book is something of a motivation to keep going.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great read and fantastic insight into not only a bartender's life, but the F&B world as a whole. I find the writing style to be a mix of Bourdain's cynicism and cold humor and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Javin Chia
I enjoyed reading this book. It's short and accessible. I'd really like to get a drink from the author one day.Published 19 months ago by Jim vinson
The book is very well written. I enjoyed reading it for the most part, and he paints a clear picture of his experiences in working as a bartender. Read morePublished on December 14, 2013 by Kyle Whitney
As someone who is still quite new to the hospitality industry, I found the book to be extremely entertaining and in hindsight, very eye-opening as to what exactly occurs in the... Read morePublished on May 24, 2012 by VeggieBartender
This book is a sneak peek into the world of bartending as told my a man who has lived a life behind the bar for years. Read morePublished on May 24, 2012 by Castrodisiac
There were some amusing anecdotes and observations of some of the crazy nightlife in Manhattan. It was misogynistic at times, particularly with using "pickled clam" as an... Read morePublished on November 9, 2010 by Lafou
I also read this book because of the rave reviews it received and like many of the other reviewers but I finished the book somewhat mixed. Read morePublished on April 4, 2010 by Joseph Biskup
Cosmopolitan is every bartender's dream and nightmare. When I first picked up the book, two days ago while waiting to start my first guest bartending gig, I thought it would be a... Read morePublished on November 27, 2008 by Eugene
His perspectives on the mechanics of making drinks, setting up a work space, and in particular on several recipes are very interesting and valuable. Read morePublished on December 29, 2006 by AlchemistGeorge