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Ted Haigh, a.k.a. Dr. Cocktail, makes his living as a graphic designer in the Hollywood movie industry and has worked on such spectacles as O Brother Where Art Thou?,American Beauty, and The Insider. He has been researching cocktails since the ’80s and has been referenced by the New York Times, Esquire, the Malt Advocate, Men’s Journal and writes regularly for Imbibe Magazine. He is a partner in CocktailDB.com, an encyclopedic database of cocktail knowledge and curator and designer of The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans.
Ted Haigh, a.k.a. Dr. Cocktail, makes his living as a graphic designer in the Hollywood movie industry and has worked on such spectacles as O Brother Where Art Thou?, American Beauty, and The Insider. Although he has been diligently researching cocktails since the '80s, his moonlighting as a cocktail historian became public in 1995, when he hosted the America Online spirits boards. In the intervening years, he has been quoted and referenced by the New York Times, Esquire, the Malt Advocate, and Men's Journal, as well as various books and other media. He is a partner in CocktailDB.com, an encyclopedic database of cocktail knowledge.
"Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails" is a cocktail recipe book, but--as far as recipe books go--is quite readable and is both easy to digest in part or to read cover-to-cover, depending on your mood. Ted Haigh provides detailed (and interesting) back stories on most of the drinks featured in the book, as well as sidebar sections on many of the lesser-known spirits that the recipes call for. In addition to the main parts of the book, Haigh includes an introduction that covers the resurgence of classic cocktails, a glossary, a bibliography, and a resource guide to help you find many of the rarer ingredients he mentions throughout the text. Haigh clearly put a lot of thought and effort into compiling such a comprehensive guide, and it shows: The book is nicely put together and is wonderfully cohesive, with many of the recipes including references to other, similar or related recipes that can be found elsewhere within the book.
I do have a few complaints about the book: First of all, it's spiral-bound, which makes it nice as a recipe book and not so nice as something to sit down and read through. Second, the recipes are often not updated to modern tastes and are geared towards the sweet palates of those who originally created the drinks. For example, try the first cocktail listed, the Almagoozlum, which is virtually undrinkable given its syrupy combination of 1.5 ounces of both Chartreuse and simple syrup, with no citrus to balance. Make sure to carefully review the recipes before pouring and shaking, in order to avoid pouring expensive ingredients down the drain. Finally, the resources section at the end of the book, while a great addition, generally favors a few extremely overpriced Internet retailers. Google around and you'll easily find better options.Read more ›
Designed from the get go by a graphic artist with full artistic control and an obsessive and loving attention to detail this book delights at least four of the five senses - okay, all five if you like the smell of good ink) done with exhaustive attention to subject material, layout, paper, printing and virtually every other aspect one could think of.
This is a must have classic tome on mixology and of course on classic mixology.
While there are many new reprints of classic bar and mixing manual today this one is especially useful from a practical and entertainment standpoint. The wire binding, relatively spill proof paper , backstories and type size/font make it extremely easy to read and use- unlike many of its competitors.
Covering 100 extremely hard to find but very worthwhile recipes and the back stories to regale your audience while preparing said recipes.
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The 21st century cocktail drinker owes as much to Ted Haigh as the 19th century drinker owed to Jerry Thomas. Dr. Cocktail has been feverishly researching and recreating forgotten, century-old drinks since the early days of the internet and is probably the single biggest force behind the cocktail renaissance happening today in New York, London, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and other cities around the world. The first edition of this book is the reason I can walk into bars across the country and order a Corpse Reviver #2 without encountering dumbfounded stares, the reason there dozens of bottles of cocktail bitters in my liquor in my cabinet, and the reason Creme Yvette (among other lost ingredients) will soon again grace shelves in bars and liquor stores.
I've read the first edition, cover to cover, perhaps a dozen times; with each reading hoping to eke out just a little more information than I retained from the previous endeavor. This new and vastly expanded edition is a banquet of new recipes, additional historical information, and more tasting notes. While there are many books of great interest to those fascinated with classic cocktails (check out the reprints from Mud Puddle Books), I can think of no other introduction to the subject as broad reaching or as enjoyable to read than Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. I have no doubt I'll pour over this edition time and again, just like the last, in an effort to extract as much of the Doctor's wisdom as I can.
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If you're only going to own one cocktail recipe book make it this one. I have perhaps three dozen in my collection but none is better at providing clear instruction and fascinating history for each drink. From alternatives to hard-to-find ingredients to stories of who really invented the French 75, you'll keep coming back to this one for more. (One side effect for me was that it turned me into a collector of old mixology books and a seeker of rare ingredients. I make my own grenadine now, by hand, because Ted made me realize the commercial products I have access to are all terrible.) Reading-- and frequently using --this book will not only make you a better mixologist, it will make you a better person.
Edit: four years later
Our liquor cabinet now contains over 75 bottles of spirits, many of which I had never encountered before reading this book. I've added another two dozen mixology books to our collection as well, but this one remains the best-- and the one I recommend to friends who are intrigued by the fact that we have 15 different gins and at least a dozen kinds of spirits in the cupboard. A walk-in liquor closet is next on my wish list, along with a specific shelf to keep this book on for quick reference.
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