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on January 2, 2011
I got this for my mixologist-in-training (amateur) husband who owns as least 4 different cocktail/mixology books and receives IMBIBE magazine. He has met his match in this book! It has raised the bar! It has asked him to move beyond all of the information he has already absorbed on how to "construct" a cocktail to begin seeing cocktail-making as an art form. I would say it asks you to start seeing it as chemistry meets high cuisine in a glass. The author uses a grid to introduce each season's best ingredients and what liquors go best with them. He gives you ideas for what flavors pair well and he gives you all kinds of recipes. He also gives you a list of what tools you will need to make drinks from beginner level through advanced. It also has PICTURES PICTURES PICTURES... a beautiful book with lovely lessons, great info and delicious recipes. Well written- a great read for someone who is interested in learning more about drink making from scratch- even a beginner with curiosity will get the basics, including history of the cocktail and info on various spirits. I wouldn't recommend it for someone who just wants a cocktail recipe book-- you'll be asked to buy WAY too many obscure and expensive liquors and ingredients for the new and inventive drink recipes provided! Get a basic book and once you feel bored, move on to something like this :)
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on February 23, 2010
I finally received my copy of The Modern Mixologist yesterday and devoured it in one sitting. It is absolutely the soul of Tony. On almost every page we find "the warm welcome and extension of self" that Mario Batali speaks of in the forward.

The book unfolds with wonderfully simple step by step logic that will lead the reader to cocktail expertise, and along the way there are plenty of pictures that elicit over and over again the words, "oh...now I get it!". The quotes capture the reader immediately and most will, like I did, page forward in search of them.

Tony has made every classic cocktail his own. We already have too many recipes books to tell us the "right" way or the "correct" recipes for them. The original cocktails are absolutely scrumptious and I admit to an advantage because I have already had the good fortune to taste many. One Tony classic, the Cable Car, is already a "modern classic" and will live on in books and cocktail menus long after our time.

The cocktails are filled with Ferrari parts! Sorry folks you're gonna need a close read to get that one. They are overflowing with freshness in ingredients and ideas and are as welcome as a summer breeze. I gotta quit now and get to the bar and make myself a drink!
Cheers to a triumph
Dale DeGroff
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on January 21, 2012
This is exactly the book I have been seeking to expand my mixology skills!

First, it succinctly reviews a lot of the "basics" on how to mix properly, the necessary tools, etc. that serves as a good and quick "refresher" course that clarifies many tricky elements;

Second, each recipe explains why the elements work together ("orange and floral notes compliment each other" for example) that is utterly invaluable for gaining an in-depth understanding to be able to branch out on one's own (in food terms, akin to going from a "cook" to a "chef");

Third, it explains the subtleties of various brands of liquors and specifies particular brands of liquor recommended for each recipe (and why), which again furthers one's understanding of the nuances of the underlying elements. I had already discovered that different gin brands could significantly affect taste but this book will be a great resource for a wide variety of liquors that I don't use frequently; and

Fourth, it has a lot of unusual recipes that you won't find elsewhere, and also a good number of "batch" recipes for parties.

Be aware, however, it will not replace a basic cocktail book as it does not contain the "standard" drinks so if you are going to buy only one recipe book, you should look elsewhere. (Consider Dale DeGroff's "The Craft of the Cocktail.") Also, as another reviewer noted, virtually every recipe in this book calls for at least one exotic or uncommon liquor, so there is a financial commitment to trying each recipe.
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on October 22, 2013
I've had this book for a few months now and thought I'd offer a review, for what it's worth. I would consider myself an intermediate home bartender. I'm looking for inspiration, technique, and novel ideas. In many ways this book meets or exceeds my expectations, but in the long run it will gather dust while other bar books get far more use (for me).

This is a wonderful looking book. The pictures are lovely and the layout is quite nice. Multiple indices make navigation easy.

When it comes to bartending basics (technique, tools, etc.) this book gives up nothing to other similar offerings (Dale Degroff's The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes comes to mind). The history of cocktails and the descriptions of various spirits are less personal than Degroff's, but perhaps one isn't looking for that in a cocktail book. As far as the basics go, this is a 5 star book.

Abou-Ganim also offers a table of "Selections by Season". This list of fruits and spices, their peak seasons, and spirit pairings is exceptionally useful. Certainly this information is available scattered across the internet, but having it all well-organized and in one place is worth a star on its own.

The recipes range from traditional to highly personalized (see, e.g., "My Martini"). Here, I suppose, is where the book loses steam for me. While Abou-Ganim offers a backstory and personal history for many of the cocktails, he is less open about the reasoning behind his choices. My idiosyncratic expectation is that a cocktail book (especially one presented like this) is a stand in for a conversation, or a 30-minute television show. I can read recipes put together by barely-less accomplished bartenders anywhere on the internet - the reason to read a book by one widely considered to be at the pinnacle of the craft is to understand what makes the difference between the average and the great. I remain unconvinced that this distinction comes down to the cost of the ingredients (at least, not every time). This bleeds over into my next issue with the recipes...

Abou-Ganim does offer an overture about quality in the opening pages, but anyone with a real interest in tending bar is going to know that premium labels and prices do not always mean premium flavor. Nevertheless, nearly every recipe calls for a rare, hard-to-find, or premium ingredient (not always the spirit). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with calling for such ingredients, but this reader would like to know why Abou-Ganim calls for Tanqueray No. Ten in his "Bar Fly" rather than another gin at that price point or lower? That is a random example, but a similar question could be asked for every other cocktail in the book. I don't mind spending the extra coin if there is some justification offered, but one isn't forthcoming here.

Ultimately this might just come down to expectations. I have slowly built up what I consider to be a well-stocked bar. I don't shy away from premium prices when I've been given good reason to spend extra. I also don't mind stocking something that only finds its way into one drink that I make. All that is just to say that I think I'm part of the target audience for this book, but it leaves me less than completely satisfied. The book reads like a one-sided conversation far too often.

The Modern Mixologist has a great deal to offer, and for some readers it may be just right. I would hesitate to give this to a beginner and I would hesitate to recommend it as a first entry into home bartending. But for someone willing to mine these recipes for interesting combinations and insights, this is worth perusing.
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on September 27, 2013
I wanted a book with recipes for new and innovative cocktails. This book is mostly about the people who wrote the book, tools for bar tending, liquor and how each spirit is made, herbs and infusions, etc. very few recipes.
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on April 9, 2010
The cocktail is perhaps the most iconic of upscale party-time mixed drinks. In "The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails", Tony Abou-Ganim draws upon his more than twenty years of professional experience and expertise to compile a superbly illustrated instructional compendium of cocktail recipes. Beginning with an informed and informative history of 'mixology' and the basic tools of the trade and fundamental techniques in building cocktails, "The Modern Mixologist" offers drinks ranging from an Apricot Julip; a Blond Mary; and a Fresh Fruit Bellini; to a Margarita Primo; a Neighborhood Negroni; and a Spiced Cider Toddy. Ideal for the novice bartender and with much to recommended it to even the experienced professional, "The Modern Mixologist" will prove a welcome and popular addition to personal and community library instructional Food & Beverage reference collections.
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on June 6, 2011
I really enjoyed this book, especially as someone starting out on the classic cocktail journey - trying to reclaim the drinks of my youth that I've always maintained a preference for and experience the delicious variations that this modern resurgence of cocktails has brought to us. The book starts with not only a short and sweet history of important moments in the history of cocktails, it suggests further reading for those interested. What stuck with me most however were the six steps in "Art over Science" and the "Bringing it Home" section where we're encouraged to experiment, enjoy, and never be intimidated by something as pleasurable as a cocktail.

For those of us with some experience (or with none) there is a very helpful section of tools and the reasons for their use, mixing techniques, and common terms found in recipes for cocktails. This is an invaluable resource, especially since there are helpful pictures throughout this section showing the tools used by Mr. Abou-Ganim, he even explains different glassware for your bar. This leads into information about each different spirit, a short history and use, infusions you can cheaply and decadently make for your own home, and ideas for what season fresh ingredients can be used in along with preparations and spirits that compliment them. This is another fantastic resource, giving us inspiration and a jumping off point for our own experiments in the world of cocktails.

The actual recipes for drinks come 87 pages into the book, and they're not there too soon or too late. I found the first portion of The Modern Mixologist so important and needed that it could have been its own short book or fleshed out even more to become a separate and distinct guide to mixing a drink. The Apricot Julep was heavenly, simple, and frankly surprising since I am such a strong advocate of vodka. The Blugrass Cobbler was also just ridiculously good. By this point in the book, I was really feeling confident in my ability to make a good (or at least decent) cocktail and starting to understand the steps to making different types of drinks.

I have to say my favorites are the Vanilla Gorilla, Zig Zag and the Tennessee Highball, I never would have had the confidence to make anything other than a few very basic cocktails at home if it weren't for this book. It made me so excited for the journey I am embarking upon, and raised my appreciation for the history and applications of different spirits immensely. I cannot even begin to fathom where I would be if it weren't for this book. It's a must read for the novice, or those who may have a lot of experience with the classics but are unsure of how to branch out to something different.
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on January 20, 2012
As several others have noted, there is an evolution process towards bartending competence. Imbribe, Wonderich, Dale DeGroff, Vintage Spirits, Bitters, youtube videos, et al are standard phases. This book is a later phase, although could probably be used by novices with some success. The content of this work starts with the basics and moves through them quickly. He sort of implicitly assumes that you have already accessed many of the sources listed above. Then we hit the good stuff - meta-cocktail thinking, or why things work the way they do. He follows that with a set of new recipes, which as noted in other reviews involve a vastly new set of (expensive) ingredients.

I've been laboring diligently through the classics, and have built a pretty damn good collection of booze. For this book, that is sort of a not bad thing to have in your background and inventory, but be prepared to move on quickly. Also, to be amazed at how hard many of the new ingredients can be to obtain, even when you have access to good suppliers. The web will not get you what this guy is using, you are going to end up making some of them at home. He does tell you how. As one of my college profs explained, "Life gets complex."
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on April 10, 2014
I was expecting a more in depth book on mixing theory, like flavor combinations and such. These are just a bunch of recipes you can find online. It's small enough to be a child's bedtime sorry. Only buy this book if you like pretty pictures of drinks, or your kid likes to hear the ingredients for their parents booze before bedtime
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on May 6, 2015
I was hesitant to buy this book because of the complaints about how complicated the ingredient lists are. Not true. Yes, there are a handful of hard to find products but easily substitutable. The custom purees and syrups are easy to make. I really love this book and have already found 5 drinks that are going to make it on my permanent drink list. Excellent, well-balanced recipes!
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