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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I'm a novice and very casual bartender. I picked this up because it has generally good reviews.

I really enjoy the trivia and background information, and the personal stories are mostly entertaining. The history and variations of the most common cocktails are a highlight for me. I was expecting some of this, but the amount of background information on bar tools and spirits was a pleasant surprise!
A few things keep it from being a 5-star purchase, but I whole-heartedly recommend the item anyway - if you don't mind the following:

-Cocktails are organized alphabetically (not by primary spirit/ingredient) and there isn't an index that flags all, e.g., vodka based cocktails. So, you have to hunt and peck at first. I use page flags for reference works and I just grabbed them and started flagging the recipes I wanted to remember - no big deal.
-The instructions given for each cocktail vary in detail. After reading through the whole book and seeing the author's explanation of "building" a cocktail, I didn't think any cocktail recipe was unclear...but another novice might find that bothersome. This isn't straight forwardly a step-by-step guide to making all the cocktails included.

I was looking for more than just a recipe book, so these two issues don't break the deal for me. I found reading through the book and the recipes very enjoyable. I've got a list of drinks that I want to try at our local lounge, and I can refine the few drinks that I currently make at home.

If you're looking for a book that's as much a personal history of making cocktails as a list of recipes, you won't be disappointed. I'm sure that I can now put together a decent bar and start figuring out which spirits and drinks I like - and more importantly, I have the foundation for exploring my own variations and recipes. Considering the title and the concept of the book, I think it was well executed and I am not disappointed with my purchase.

4.5/5
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. The author has good stories and the presentation makes the whole thing very readable and enjoyable. This is also the downfall. The recipes read nicely, and if you can memorize them all by reading through once then you are all set, but the organization within individual recipes should be more structured, in my opinion. There is a description, list of ingredients and sometimes an anecdote with a recipe, but never in any particular order or with any kind of structure other than the ingredients being a bulleted list. I want to be able to open to a recipe and see exactly what to do first so while all the extra information is great, I wish it was structured so that I knew exactly where to look without having to read through a few paragraphs about each recipe.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A couple other reviewers already commented on the lack of a good index or a means of searching by ingredient rather than cocktail name. The good news is - the Kindle's search engine allows one to overcome this. The Kindle version (can't speak for the hardcover) also has extensive "links to pertinent websites" and "other resources" sections in the back which offset these apparent shortcomings in the hardcover version, but they aren't noted in the Table of Contents.
I'd have given the book 3 stars if I couldn't search w/Kindle. It has better than average history and technical (i.e., how-to and what-to) information and an excellent Glossary and, as mentioned, good further reading and resources sections with active links, but it is average to below average for recipe retrieval for a bar book (alphabetical listing, no listing by ingredient).
Also, I loved the subchapter heading "PROHIBITON AND REPEAL" (sic). Was an editor trying out recipes?
What I didn't like was light blue links in the text that went nowhere when I clicked on them. For example, Mr.DeGroff refers to a drink called "Flamingo" in his excellent "Mixing Terms and Techniques" to illustrate a technique; I clicked on the highlighted link but got nothing but a definition describing a pink-feathered bird. BUT, considering the book was published in 2002, well before e-readers became ubiquitous, I can't really get too upset over a few broken links. As I wrote earlier, the bar resources and further reading sections in the back do have links that work including links to some of the better cocktail recipe sites. Perhaps the "Table of Contents" or even the "product description" could be amended to highlight these very desirable inclusions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I absolutely adore this book. I've spent the last few weeks working my way through it. It's very entertaining (anecdotes and history lessons), the recipes are great and very clear, and the photographs are just wonderful. I've noted very few recipes with bizarre or hard to find ingredients.

This is really a cookbook/recipe book that makes the drinks very enticing and compelling and as a result I've added more than a dozen bottles to my liquor collection since purchasing it. One thing worth mentioning is that, compared to other cocktail books I've read, even though most of the drinks are well enough it appears that author has personalized and improved on quite a few of them by adding his own touch or variation. For example, there's a drink called "Between the sheets" that's usually made with two base liquors: brandy & rum. Dale DeGroff's recipe contains Brandy & Benedictine as the base liquors - a wonderful combination which makes for a more interesting cocktail.

Another example of these variations is mixing Rye & Brandy for a Sazerac instead of just sticking to Rye. There are many, many other improvements and innovations.

I would have loved to give it 5 stars but the only thing that held me back is the structure and organization of the book: it's more or less alphabetical and that often makes it difficult to find related recipes or recipes based on the ingredients or the style of the drink.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A great book with lots of important background knowledge for spirits. Blissful array of recipes, too. Literally read it cover to cover in a sitting, including all the recipes. I'd have loved it even more if the index were more readily searchable by base spirit. For instance, when it's cocktail time at my house, I ask my husband, "Whisky, run, or gin?" He chooses, and I search for the cocktail to prepare, based on other stuff in the house. The index in the book doesn't list out all the recipes containing rum under the heading Rum, though - so I'd have to already know what recipe I wanted to prepare. Another little irk to me is that there are families of drinks - like the Stinger, Black Widow and something else that Degroff describes as being related, but the recipes are scattered throughout the book, since recipes are listed in alphabetical order. A great title, a fascinating read, but not the bar side companion to quickly mix up something based on ingredients on hand - you have to already know the name of the thing you want to drink. I guess for the former scenario there is always liquor.com...
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on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A great basic bar book with very good recipes for the most part, and written in an engaging and accessible manner. The author also somethimes gives his welcome opinions on various brands of spirits and liqueurs to use in a specific cocktail and why, or on a particular garnish, etc. He also explains how to do his famous flamed citrus peel garnish, something you'll never see me do.

The lack of an index by liquor is the only disappointment in this book. This home bartender really appreciates such an index because I don't necessarily know every cocktail that uses Benedictine or Chartreuse, gin or applejack, etc.

Anyway, an excellent bar book that's fun and inspriring to browse through. Hmmm, what will we make for next Friday night's cocktail, I wonder...
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on May 22, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As other reviewers have commented, the recipes, recommendations, and anecdotes are very entertaining and taste good to boot, but an organization/listing by main ingredients might have been nice. However, as someone who picked up bar tending at college for myself and my roommates, the in depth explanation of tools, liquors, and etc. Is exactly what I wanted. Highly recommend for other amateurs like myself. Looks damn good on a table to boot!
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on August 13, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Unlike most books on cocktails that have a description of the different cocktail components followed by a laundry list of cocktail recipes, this book takes the time to describe the mechanics of making a cocktail and the equipment you need to make them. This is really helpful.
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on December 11, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Written by 'the master' of craft cocktails, it was good to get the history Mr. DeGroff had behind his knowledge of cocktails. The recipes are OK, I only wish there was a little more background/history behind the recipes. Very comprehensive.
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on March 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I love the current, creative recipes, histories and anecdotes but wanted more basic tried and true classics to base work on as well. Overall a very informative and entertaining book! Cheers!
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