Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Enthusiasts and Professional Bartenders, this one's for you!
on February 19, 2015
Many people are docking points off this book due to the nature of it being a reprint. The book clearly says reprint in the name, and Amazon has a preview for the Kindle version. I won't delve into any of the "ol' runamuck" that has been hammered in most of the other reviews. Proceed if you would like know about the content of the book.
If you're a craft cocktailer or drink enthusiast, stop right here and purchase both the Kindle version and the paperback... now! After reading dozens of the most recommended books buy all my industry colleagues, I have found more insight by reading "between the lines" in this book than any of the others combined. That's not to say beginners should pick this as their only reference, this is an advanced level book if you know what to look for.
- This book was printed in 1935, within two years of the repeal of Prohibition
- Most of the recipes originated well before Prohibition (Evidence: Absinthe,which was banned in 1912, is used heavily throughout the book)
- Drinks have few if no citations on the bartender or origin of each recipe
- Benchmark "Classic" cocktails can have drastically different recipes from what historically we believe to be accurate. This tells us that either the Waldorf Astoria's bar staff adapted what became the classics to the tastes of their customers, or that the recipes were not given the reverence that modern mixologist like to imply. NOTHING is sacrosanct.
- By changing ratios even in the slightest, the name of the cocktail changed, often dramatically. Due to no date of origin, we cannot determine if this happened rapidly or over the course of time, when drinks may have been lost throughout the decades.
- Robert Hess said it best, just because it is in a recipe book, does not mean it is a good recipe. Most of the drinks look pretty solid, but keep in mind, our palates have changed as a culture each decade. Most of these drinks may taste too acidic, potent, rich, or watery depending on what how many fishbowl-sized, high-fructose enriched, rainbow-dranks we've consumed. Portions were smaller back then and some things just will not translate to our modern palates.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The book has interjections about the era below cocktails recipes. Author, Albert S. Crockett shows he was more of a historian than booze-guru. These bits of information are engaging and help me to digest how people of the time drank. In general terms, the quality of ingredients has mostly gotten better with raw products (wine, whisk(e)y, gin, etc... maybe an exception with brandy), this means recreating drinks in the book can require patience, fine tuneing ratios, and often note taking. Good ole trial n' error... with a funnel. Technology was different enough back then, that unique preparations can be done more quickly today. This needs to be kept in mind when recreating drinks that require some of this fascinating steps. I'll leave this to you to digest, but thankfully, there is an extremely helpful glossary that translates most information. This is where I find it helpful to have the two different versions of the book. Using the search feature is by far the most useful tool for absorbing information categories rather than each recipe, like looking at a tree and not each individual leaf.
The book isn't pristine, nor is it flowery like Wondrich's "Imbibe". If you take the flaws at face value and stick to the content, this book can teach you more than enough about the art of cocktailing. Dig deep enough, you may be able to fine tune your skills behind the bar, and a bit of triva and story telling for your customers (or friends). Watch out cocktail historians, there's a chance you might find some rather surprising renditions of your favorite classics!