From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In their introduction, experienced barhands Altier and Kaye state that a "good drink, when it's put together right and is suited to the occasion, transforms you into a better version of yourself," setting the tone for this sharp guide to drinks for every conceivable occasion. Buoyed by wit as bracing as a gin martini, the duo lead a tour through dozens of cocktails, offering suggestions for the end of a long unlucky streak (a Gin Rickey) and when sitting next to a movie star (the rum and fruit-juicy Mary Pickford) as well as more commonplace events like meeting the in-laws (the gin-based Fine and Dandy), a high school reunion (a Rusty Nail), or flying coach (a Madras). Rather than devolving into sheer novelty, misogyny or mean-spiritedness, the authors deftly walk the line (rare exceptions include "last drink before AA"), offering cogent information on a drink's creation and characteristics, along with sharp commentary such as "your sexual orientation is at best a self-fulfilling prophecy, and not a very interesting one at that" in the entry for sexual experimentation (calling for a rye-and-maraschino liqueur Fancy Free). The duo, veteran New York drink-slingers both (Altier currently runs a Manhattan bar), keep a canny balance between the educational and the irreverent, making for a terrifically entertaining guide to informed imbibing.
This book’s gimmick—half bartender’s guide, half advice column—is a good one, and reading it is like getting a talking-to from a bartender who’s seen it all. Not only does he know that people never change, he also has no vested interest in getting you to stop drinking, either. He is good, however, at helping you find the right drink in which to drown your sorrows. Kaye, a lawyer who has worked as a bartender and sommelier, and Altier, a bartender and drinks consultant, keep the patter snappy as they cover proper drink pairings for the times of your life, from first date to last rites, with entertaining entries for such unique crises as “Drowning Out the Ticking of Your Biological Clock” and “Realizing Your Child Is a Fucking Idiot.” The writing, while funny, veers toward lad-mag territory and so, like any bartender’s guide, you won’t want to read this in one sitting. Fortunately, the drinks advice is remarkably good, from empowering explanations of cocktail fundamentals to variations on classics that are well worth trying. --Keir Graff
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