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Dark Spirits: 200 Classy Concoctions Starring Bourbon, Brandy, Scotch, Whiskey, Rum and More Hardcover – September 15, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Dear Vodka: Your days are numbered. It's been a good run. Now make room for rum, whiskey, bourbon, and rye. A.J. Rathbun's got your number. --The Boston Chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC Boston)

In an era when countless glasses are burdened with mixtures that are light, bright, and bland, Rathbun fearlessly brings drinkers and their cocktail shakers over to the dark side. This whiskey- (and brandy- and rum-) fueled ride is witty, enlightening, and altogether delicious. --Paul Clarke, Imbibe contributing editor and proprietor of CocktailChronicles.com

About the Author

A.J. Rathbun is a food and entertaining writer and poet and the author of Dark Spirits, Wine Cocktails, Luscious Liqueurs, Party Snacks!, Party Drinks!, and the IACP Award-winning Good Spirits. In addition to his cookbooks, Rathbun is the author of Want, a collection of poems. He lives in Seattle, Washington. To learn more, visit Rathbun's website at ajrathbun.com and drink up his blog Spiked Punch (it's lonely, and needs attention).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558324275
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558324275
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A.J. Rathbun is a food and entertaining writer and poet and the author of Champagne Cocktails, Dark Spirits, Wine Cocktails, Luscious Liqueurs, Party Snacks!, Party Drinks!, the IACP Award-winning Good Spirits, Double Take (in collaboration with chef Jeremy Holt), and editor and contributor for In Their Cups. In addition to his cocktail books and cookbooks, Rathbun is the author of Want, a collection of poems. He lives in Seattle, Washington. To learn more, visit Rathbun's website at www.ajrathbun.com and drink up his blog Spiked Punch (it's lonely, and needs attention).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you are in the mood for an adult beverage A.J. Rathbun has 200 offerings for your consideration. Dark Spirits focuses on the brown liquors (Whiskey, Rum, Scotch, Bourbon, Rye and the like). It is a visually attractive book that encourages its reader to pull out a cocktail shaker and experience the drink after seeing the recipe and accompanying photo. Previous reviews have noted that the recipes are not sorted by specific liquor but Rathbun notes that he intentionally organized the recipes into "thematic chapters" including Dark Classics (familiar standbys including Hot Toddys and Sidecars), Powerful Punches (party favorites including Honolulu Punch and Old Fashions) and Hot Stuff (warm drinks for cold nights including Hot Brick and Irish Coffee) to name a few. If you feel more comfortable looking up the drink recipe by liquor, there is a liquor specific index in the back of the book prior to the general index. Rathbun provides a great amount of information in an approachable/conversational presentation. From bar tools to garnishes to highlights of specific liquors, Rathbun includes beneficial information for his readers. I found the recipes were easy to follow and included many ingredients I already have in my home. This is a great cocktail book to add to your library.
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Format: Hardcover
Dark spirit-lovers unite! I'm a rum gal myself, and was pleased as punch to find a book that focused on the darker drinks. A.J. Rathbun delights once again (and here I thought Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist was un-toppable) with delicious recipes, fun historical references, hilarious personal anecdotes, and wise suggestions for top-notch imbibing. The photograpy is stunning--and is impetus enough to encourage one to try the recipes--but the ease with which most of the drinks can be concocted is also a major plus. A.J.'s vast knowledge and dedicated drink-related research come together in this amazing compilation of cocktail ideas. My personal favorite? The Lion Tamer, but something tells me this book is going to be covered in sticky-notes and dog-eared pages from constant referencing in no time!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A.J. Rathbun returns with a companion to his earlier book Good Spirits, solidifying his status as the next best thing to having a personal bartender.

Many people write recipe and bartending books. Rathbun presents a bartending buddy, knowledgably and engaging without being snobbish. The book itself is very attractive, replete with rich, full-color photographs, mixology trivia, wit and culture. The quality design makes the book useful in your kitchen and entertaining in your living room.

Like his earlier work, Rathbun fills "Dark Spirits" with anecdotes that run the gambit from classic literature to popular music references.

"O Whisky! soul o' plays an' pranks!
Accept a Bardie's gratefu' thanks!"
-- Robert Burns, "Scotch Drink"

On page 74, Rathbun offers "Who Let the Drinks Out: 5 Animal Drinks". The list includes "The Eagle" (page 282), "Polynesian Donkey (page 84), "Gaslight Tiger" (page 202), "Honey Bee" (page 154) and "Lion Tamer" (page 79).

"Dark Spirits" uses whiskey (Scotch, bourbon, rye), brandy (Cognac, Armagnac), and dark rum as bases to 200 recipes. So, do you need to purchase "Dark Spirits" if you already own "Good Spirits"? There is some recipe duplication but not enough to waive off this worthy addition to your bartending library.

I'm fond of the Rusty Nail, a drink I first learned of in my childhood. My father ordered two at a company Christmas party and arrived home in a never-before-seen jovial spirit. I inquired what had lightened his mood and he said, "A Rusty Nail, son!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Much like other coffee table books, Rathbun's "Dark Spirits" looks great and is a quick read. Since there isn't really much in the way of story here, I'll spell out the good and the bad in short order.

The Good:

The book is beautiful. My hardbound copy is heavy and well made with good stock in both cover and page. The photographs are superb and the design is one of the best things about this book. Legible fonts with attractive layouts throughout help make this a pleasure to look through.

The writing style is fun and playful and this book is an enjoyable, light read.

Along with the standards, there are tons of drink recipes I'd never heard of and plenty of liquors that share that same attribute. The sections about each spirit are informative and useful knowledge, perhaps in barrooms or if you get a slot on Jeopardy.

The Bad:

Let's face it, this is basically a recipe book. Having the drink selections divided by whimsy was a bad idea. While there is an index in the back in which one can find each recipe by base spirit, it would be far more useful had the author divided them throughout the book in kind. One can only imagine after having a few of these delights that it would be quite difficult to find a recipe otherwise.

Even if he had divided them up by Standards, Fruity, Aperitif, Dessert,etc., the book would have made a better bar companion. As it stands, I doubt many will refer to this when mixing. It may have added to the cost, but dividers with tabs are a standard in most drink recipe books or reference guides.

Many of the drinks featured are far too obscure and/or fluffy for my tastes. I can only imagine that they were added to help build up bulk but I doubt many will actually go to the trouble of finding the rare ingredients it takes to make them.

Note: Some of the recipes are a bit complicated and should only be tried prior to imbibing.
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