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The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes Hardcover – October 15, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The cocktail goes in and out of fashion, and home bartenders need to replace their mixology recipes regularly to account for newly invented cocktails and rediscovered old ones. The Craft of the Cocktail, by Dale DeGroff, surpasses ordinary bar guides by not only providing directions for nearly every imaginable mixed drink but also serving as a trove of cocktail lore. After presenting a brief history of the bartender's art, DeGroff gives a history of each of the major liquors. He discusses drink-mixing techniques, including a thoughtful, dispassionate resolution of bartending's enduring dispute: shaking versus stirring. The inventory of mixed drinks is suitably comprehensive, and a concluding glossary aids readers with definitions of otherwise unfamiliar terminology. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Inside Flap

Cocktails are bigger than ever, and this is the first real cookbook for them, covering the entire breadth of this rich subject. The Craft of the Cocktail provides much more than merely the same old recipes: it delves into history, personalities, and anecdotes; it shows you how to set up a bar, master important techniques, and use tools correctly; and it delivers unique concoctions, many featuring Dale DeGroff?s signature use of fresh juices, as well as all the classics.

Debonair, a great raconteur, and an unparalleled authority, Dale DeGroff is the epitome of Perfect Bartender, universally acknowledged as the world?s premier mixologist. From Entertainment Weekly and USA Today to the Culinary Institute of America and the nation?s best restaurants, whenever anybody wants information or training on the bar, they turn to Dale for recipes, for history, for anecdotes, for fun?for cocktail-party conversation as well as for cocktails.

That?s what The Craft of the Cocktail is?the full party, conversation and all. It begins with the history of spirits, how they?re made (but without too much boring science), the development of the mixed drink, and the culture it created, all drawn from Dale?s vast library of vintage cocktail books. Then on to stocking the essential bar, choosing the right tools and ingredients, mastering key techniques?hints worthy of a pro, the same information that Dale shares with the bartenders he trains in seminars and through his videos. And then the meat of the matter: 500 recipes, including everything from tried-and-true classics to of-the-moment originals. Throughout are rich stories, vintage recipes, fast facts, and other entertaining asides. Beautiful color photographs and a striking design round out the cookbook approach to this subject, highlighting the difference between an under-the-bar handbook and a stylish, full-blown treatment. The Craft of the Cocktail is that treatment, destined to become the bible of the bar.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter; 1 edition (October 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609608754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609608753
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.8 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The cocktail bars of New York City are a natural resource like the Redwoods in California and the bartender is like a forest ranger protecting you from the wild animals and guiding you through the thick under-brush of alcoholic beverages. This description is tongue and cheek but in 1967 when I walked into Charley O's, a great New York City bar and grill. I KNEW I was home; to quote my own book The Craft of the Cocktail,

"... I fell in love with bars because of the uninhibited, disordered and surprising way life unfolds at the bar. The only logical progression in my life has been the wealth of characters that crossed my path, leaving their sweet, sour, strong, and weak for me to ponder. I dedicate this book to all the friends and strangers who took a moment to tell a great story and send me on my way".

Over the next several years I learned the ethics of the barroom, what to drink, and when to drink it and why. How to treat the bartender and how I should be treated in turn. And of course how to tip. But the most important thing learned was how to listen and enjoy the life of the bar.

In 1959, in New York City, Joe Baum, a genius of the restaurant business and the president of the newly formed Restaurant Associates Company opened two restaurants that would change the way we eat and drink over the next 40 years. Both restaurants were located in brand new glass towers. The Four Seasons Restaurant was located in the Seagram's Building on Park Avenue. The Seagram's Building is the architectural achievement of two of the 20th century's most celebrated architects, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe and Philip Johnson. The second restaurant La Fonda Del Sol was located on 6th Avenue in the not so celebrated Time Life building.

The Four Seasons, still operating today, celebrated a return to fresh and regional ingredients prepared with culinary techniques from around the world, while La Fonda Del Sol celebrated the cuisine of the Latin Americas' from Mexico to the tip of South America. La Fonda's cocktail menu boasted the Pisco Sour and Mojito Criollo ... indeed Joe was way out front of the pack!

All this in the 1950's world of bland unchanging menus based on meat and potatoes when the most exciting greens on the plate were iceberg and Romaine lettuce. I went to work for Joe in 1985 and he demanded that I recreate the 19th and early 20th century cocktail bar based on fresh ingredients and classic recipes. Over the next 15 years with Joe, most of them at the Famous Promenade Bar in the Rainbow Room, I celebrated the American cocktail.

Today as founding president of The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans, I along with curator and author Ted Haigh and the other founding members of the museum continue to celebrate the great American culinary institution the cocktail. We are a non-profit Museum and you can visit for a virtual tour at

and shut the lights when you leave
Dale DeGroff

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 73 people found the following review helpful By JEG on September 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover

- Great looking book and great photography

- Detailed intro into all the main spirits

- Detailed info on bartending techniques and measurements

- Good intro into cocktail glasses

- Large number of recipes

- The author definately has command of the subject

- Lots of references of wher to buy items for your bar


- Inconsistant terminology. He uses different names for the same spirit in different pages of the book which leads to a bit of confusion

- No cross reference of recipes by main spirit. I wish the book would have broken down the recipes by main spirit. Recipes with vodka, recipes with tequila, and so on.

- Some spirits are undefined in the book. There are several recipes that have spirits that aren't defined anywhere on the book.
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75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Rogers on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Try to imagine your favorite cookbook with the recipes arranged in alphabetical order. Bad. Now imagine all of the recipes had fanciful titles not directly related to their ingredients or method of production and THEN they were arranged in alphabetical order. Worse. Now imagine the book had a halfhearted attempt at any index. (Yes, there are a few alternate drink names in the index, but no attempt to, for instance, list drinks by base spirit, let alone minor ingredients.) Well that is DeGroff's Craft of The Cocktail. If you buy it, you pretty much have to read it cover to cover for it to be of use. If you just use it as a reference you will find excellent recipes of familiar drinks but miss all of the original drinks. (You don't know their names. They are originals. How are you going to be led to them in an alphabetical book?) I don't disagree with any of the positive things that people said about this book. (I did tell you to imagine your FAVORITE cookbook destroyed by disorganization.) But this book is a real disappointment and a missed opportunity.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By G. Roukas on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I took a course with Dale and found out first hand what it takes to make a truly great cocktail--and found out how bad most cocktails in bars really are. This book not only tells how to create really memorable drinks for yourself and guests, it also delves into the history of the various spirits and how they've been combined by savvy bartenders to create classics old and new. I've read through it several times, lapping up classics like the sidecar and DeGroff signature drinks like the Ritz. If you like cocktails, this is an amazing book. Nobody cares about getting the best results like Dale.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I agree with everyone else's praise for this book. It's definitely my "desert island" cocktail book. There are many bad cocktail books out there, there are a few good cocktail books, but this is the only "great" cocktail book.
My only gripe is the index is not thorough enough to look up drinks by ingredient. For instance, you can't look up Benedictine and find all drink recipes containing that ingredient.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By spo00n on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dale DeGroff is the man who set the stage for the return of the great American art of the cocktail. He brought back so many lost cocktail treasures and laid the path for all of us to follow. This book is a great way to learn not only those recipes, but why freshness and quality count. You will learn the proper technique, and attitude and get an idea of what resources to look for and what to research. Cocktail history is extraordinarily important to learning to mix a great cocktail.
The only things to watch out for are a few of his recipe modifications. The most egregious & disgusting is his Sazerac. I wish to make it a crime from here on out to ever make Dale DeGroff's version of The Sazerac. It is a horrid combination of Cognac, Rye Peychaud & Angostura bitters and absinthe and too much simple syrup. Either Cognac or Rye, and no Angostura, please. There are a few others that I don't remember off the top of my head, but otherwise it is a great book. I also disagree with his implying that measuring is less of a talent than free-pouring. Free-pouring accurately is possible, but is in my opinion best left for the likes of Mr. DeGroff, and no one else. I've encountered far too many who are insulted at the suggestion they measure over demonstrating their total lack of accuracy at the free-pour. A measured cocktail will always be the same & is made no slower. There are quite a few drinks that are easily destroyed by lack of absolute accuracy. Stick to measuring.
The ingredients section could be a bit more in depth. For example, he doesn't really point out the differences among London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom (it is indeed avaiable), and Genever or Holland Gin & what kind of cocktails they are used in.
Mr. DeGroff has a refreshingly democratic approach to cocktails.
Read more ›
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dale DeGroff is to blame for setting me off on a quest for the perfect Sazerac.

While it lasted (and I can testify that its demise had nothing to do with the quality of the drink and food) DeGroff's Blackbird bar/restaurant in Manhattan was a place I enjoyed going when I could spare the time and cash. When you got DeGroff into the realm of the bitters-tinged cocktail, his subtly aromatic, complex, and a little bit dark and twisted drinks were a treat for the nose and tongue, even as his urbane presence and stylish economy of motion made it clear you were in the presence of a Real Bartender. I still remember the first Sazerac I had there, and the way it unfolded to my senses.

Although in the ensuing years, when it comes to that particular drink, I've developed a slight preference for the simpler perfection of the classic (just rye, Peychaud's Bitters, simple syrup, Herbsaint) Sazerac, I still enjoy the plot twists in the story told by DeGroff's fancified (half-and-half rye and cognac for the liquor, and half-and-half Peychaud's and regular old Angostura handling the bitters requirement) version, and I follow his glass-preparation instructions whichever version I make.

This is all an illustration of the true lesson to be learned about bartenders' references: there is no single book which will tell you everything there is to be learned about mixing drinks. You need to go out and taste what people are mixing, and you need to have several books on hand whose recipes you can read, compare, imagine, try, synthesize, extrapolate. DeGroff's The Craft of the Cocktail, despite having come out as recently as 2002, is clearly one of those essential references you need on your shelf. It's just a bonus (or perhaps, to some, an annoyance) that the book is so lavishly-produced that you could choose to leave it on the coffee table for guests to enjoy when you're not using it yourself.
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