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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on October 22, 2003
Your average cocktail/bartender book is usually just the result of somebody gathering together as many recipes as they can find, prefacing it with the obligatory "how to stock your home bar" chapter, then selecting "File / Print..." Is it any wonder then that people these days are confused as to what a Martini really is?
Thankfully, Gary Regan has shown us that a mixology book can be far more then we have come to expect.
In "The Joy of Mixology", Gary lays out for us the results of what obviously has been many years of research into what cocktails really are, and how to make them properly. First he covers the common topics such as history, bartending, garnishes, glassware, but with far more interesting information then you most likely have seen elsewhere. Mr. Regan then dives into laying out the various styles of cocktails and mixed drinks, and how to understand them in ways that focus on the proper and well-balanced construction of each style. There is a lot of meat in how he organizes his lists, and a wealth of information behind their proper construction.
Cocktails really don't need to be as confusing as they seem to be to most people. This book goes a long way in not only making sense of the large array of cocktail selections available, but also in bringing to light the potentials of a "Quality" cocktail experience.
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on September 11, 2005
I'm surprised that this book doesn't have more reviews - I am usually too preoccupied or lazy to take the time to write Amazon reviews, but in this case I had to speak! This really is THE BOOK if you're looking to learn the art of mixology, the craft of the cocktail, the joy of boozing it up in a delicious and debonair way! I am rather obsessive with the whole mixing drinks thing - and an obsessive buyer of cocktail books - but the only two that really matter - the only two that are ESSENTIAL and not just a novelty to own - are this book and Dale Degroff's the Craft of the Cocktail. Buy others if you have the inclination, but if you're wondering what to buy to learn, or to enjoy, or to be able to say you have the definitive books on the subject - buy those two. And believe me, I've tried out enough of the recipes to KNOW what I'm talking about!
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on December 3, 2006
The chart in the middle of the book is invaluable. At a glance you can see what you can make with the ingredients on hand and confidentally experiment without straying too far off tried and true formulas (who knew the Sidecar and Margarita were related?).
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on September 22, 2009
There are really a couple of subjects that this book covers:

- Recipes: lots of them with the author's own variations. Not all of the recipes I tried were great. It looks like Gary Regan is trying to provide an inclusive collection of recipes rather than a selection of the best ones. He even includes some that he doesn't care fir,

- Tips for professional bartenders: as a home mixologist I couldn't related to that.

- The standard info on how to and garnishes etc.

And finally, what I consider to be the hear of this guide:

A (for me at least) original, useful and very educational way of grouping cocktails into families. There are lots of tables and descriptions that explain the groupings. This was a real eye-opener for me because it really made it clear how good cocktails were constructed and why a margarita and a cosmopolitan are very, very similar. There are also some great sections that compare the density of various brands of liquors which is extremely helpful when making layered drinks.

All in all, this is not a perfect book but there is really a lot of original content that I've never seen anywhere else. If you like Alton Brown and a pseudo-scientific approach to cooking then you'll definitely enjoy Gary Regan's book.
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on June 4, 2010
I own several other cocktail books but this one is by far my favorite. As other reviewers have mentioned, Gary goes well beyond the usual list of recipes (though his recipes are great). The way he has grouped drinks into various families, arranged by common ingredients or techniques, has helped me to understand cocktails in a much more sophisticated way. The book also, as I hoped it would, introduced me to lots of new drinks by starting with cocktails that I knew and liked, and then making it easy to find other drinks that are related.

I'm glad I have a few other books, particularly The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff, but I only use the others to see how their authors have tweaked a given recipe. If you're looking for a book that gives you plenty of recipes, but also tells you WHY and not just HOW, then The Joy of Mixology is my top recommendation.
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on June 8, 2012
When reading this book, it will feel more like you are having a conversation with Gary Regan than you are learning a trade. Not that Regan doesnt have anything interesting to say, just the opposite, but the book has more of a story-based approach rather than an instructional approach in its organization. I was also fairly dissapointed with the lack of visuals, and for a book that stresses the importance of visuality in bartending it certainly did not feel like it needed to demonstrate anything beyond a few crude hand-drawn boxes here and there. Regan does, however, delve into the history of cocktails and the origin of cocktails but never goes into the history of specific liquors which I found a little odd. Above all, the thing that irritated me about this book beyond anything was the fact that even though he took an extra step to categorize drinks which makes it easier to learn he takes a major step backwards by only providing the recipes in alphabetical order in the very back of the book. This was by no means a bad book, but I felt for the price and the ratings that something else could be bought that was a little more accessible. I went to Barnes and Nobles and found many other books which were nmore helpful and were also at a cheaper price than this one.
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on January 18, 2015
LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! Gary covers all aspects of bartending in this book. There is a wealth of knowledge between the covers of this book.

The beginning is about the history of drinks and where how mixology came about. He also dispels some myths about the quality of the first cocktails. I found the beginning interesting at times and slightly boring at others, but the history of the cocktails and mixology is great to know and something every bartender should at least be familiar with.

The middle of the book is maintaining the bar, stocking the bar, performing as a bartender, and anything else you need to know to be a professional bartender. He covers everything in a simple manner, but elaborates on a few vital concepts such as importance of garnishes, dealing with rowdy customers, etc.

The end is a huge list of drink recipes. I enjoy the exotic recipes, however, I enjoy the standards most. For someone who doesn't know how to make a margarita, going online will only teach you how to make a "peach sunset cruise margarita" or some bullcrap like that. Gary lists the standard drinks with the basic ingredients. Plus he gives a little bit of contextual information about the drink. It's the only place I've found plain-jane drink recipes. From there, you can build any variation you want, and he lists some of his favorites as other recipes.

This book is the only bartending book I currently own and it stays at my bar at ALL times (right between my Stoli and my Bombay Sapphire). I cannot recommend this book enough!
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on October 13, 2012
I really like this book. It gives a nice history of the craft at the beginning and explains in fairly thorough detail all of the various elements you will need to get started. The recipes take up the largest portion of the book. He presents them both in alphabetical order and by their main spirit, which I think is ingenious. It's really insightful to see how the different cocktails relate to one another in a family-tree sort of way. Highly recommended for the aspiring mixologist.
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on September 30, 2015
It's a great book on Mixology with a lot of helpful information and stories but its the year 2015 would it break the bank to add color pictures to make reading more enjoyable? The whole book is small text and black and white pencil drawings for pictures. Not my idea of a fun read. A more enjoyable read was "The Bar Book" by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Equally well laid out with great information but more enjoyable to read with full color pictures throughout.
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on January 27, 2015
I have been thrilled with this book, and have cracked it open to recipes many a time. The recipes all work wonderfully, and his system of organizing cocktails makes it easy to understand and memorize drinks.
This book is more useful as a reference than a manual though, and I would recommend Jeffrey Morgenthalers "Bar Book" first to learn technique, as without it, many of these drinks would have come up sub-par from my understanding.
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