From Publishers Weekly
Degroff (The Craft of the Cocktail
) likes to be referred to as the King of Cocktails, and it is hard to argue the point. During his stint as bartender at Manhattan's Rainbow Room, he shunned packaged mixes and ushered in the use of fresh ingredients for classic drinks as well as potables of his own device. In this book, he offers 100 popular whistle-wetters and 100 variations thereof—martinis, sours, highballs and punches are all well represented. A Bloody Mary is never shaken, but rather rolled back and forth, while a Bloody Bull adds beef broth to the recipe and can stand up to a vigorous shake. There's the lowly Long Island Iced Tea, mated with a variation called a Full Monte, which calls for Champagne instead of cola. And a basic Daiquiri (rum, simple syrup, lime juice) is out-boxed by Dale's Hemingway Daiquiri, which adds Maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice to the mix. 150 full-color photos help sweeten the deal, and historical asides provide fine fodder for party chit-chat. The Tequila Sunrise, it turns out, was created south of the border during Prohibition and included fresh lemonade and French cassis. But when the drink traveled north, inexperienced bartenders dumbed it down to today's mix of OJ and grenadine. Where was a cocktail king when we needed one? (Oct.)
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DeGroff, who with David Wondrich and Eric Felten forms a triumvirate of indispensable drinks writers, can also claim a major role in the start of the still-flourishing cocktail revival. His inspired work behind the Promenade Bar at New York City’s Rainbow Room during the 1980s helped create a bulwark against the encroachment of wine coolers and lite beer, and demand for his services as a corporate consultant is a testament to the public’s continued thirst for high-test, high-taste concoctions. Far more focused than his 500-recipe Craft of the Cocktail (2002), The Essential Cocktail is a carefully selected, judiciously blended mix of recipes, instructions, and historical lore, garnished with well-seasoned advice on tactics, techniques, and tools. Oft-consumed classics and overlooked also-rans sit comfortably alongside DeGroff’s and others’ variations, and cutting-edge innovations like foam supplement rather than supplant tried-and-true preparations. DeGroff is a man to trust with the details both small (Angostura bitters or Peychaud’s?) and large (shaken or stirred?). If you’re not thirsty after consulting this volume, there’s no medicine for what ails you. --Keir Graff