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How to Booze: Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice Paperback – May 18, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In their introduction, experienced barhands Altier and Kaye state that a "good drink, when it's put together right and is suited to the occasion, transforms you into a better version of yourself," setting the tone for this sharp guide to drinks for every conceivable occasion. Buoyed by wit as bracing as a gin martini, the duo lead a tour through dozens of cocktails, offering suggestions for the end of a long unlucky streak (a Gin Rickey) and when sitting next to a movie star (the rum and fruit-juicy Mary Pickford) as well as more commonplace events like meeting the in-laws (the gin-based Fine and Dandy), a high school reunion (a Rusty Nail), or flying coach (a Madras). Rather than devolving into sheer novelty, misogyny or mean-spiritedness, the authors deftly walk the line (rare exceptions include "last drink before AA"), offering cogent information on a drink's creation and characteristics, along with sharp commentary such as "your sexual orientation is at best a self-fulfilling prophecy, and not a very interesting one at that" in the entry for sexual experimentation (calling for a rye-and-maraschino liqueur Fancy Free). The duo, veteran New York drink-slingers both (Altier currently runs a Manhattan bar), keep a canny balance between the educational and the irreverent, making for a terrifically entertaining guide to informed imbibing.
This book’s gimmick—half bartender’s guide, half advice column—is a good one, and reading it is like getting a talking-to from a bartender who’s seen it all. Not only does he know that people never change, he also has no vested interest in getting you to stop drinking, either. He is good, however, at helping you find the right drink in which to drown your sorrows. Kaye, a lawyer who has worked as a bartender and sommelier, and Altier, a bartender and drinks consultant, keep the patter snappy as they cover proper drink pairings for the times of your life, from first date to last rites, with entertaining entries for such unique crises as “Drowning Out the Ticking of Your Biological Clock” and “Realizing Your Child Is a Fucking Idiot.” The writing, while funny, veers toward lad-mag territory and so, like any bartender’s guide, you won’t want to read this in one sitting. Fortunately, the drinks advice is remarkably good, from empowering explanations of cocktail fundamentals to variations on classics that are well worth trying. --Keir Graff
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Top customer reviews
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We both love the very amusing "life stories" throughout the book. Not a long list of cocktail recipes, but contained many new ideas and recipes (to go along with the chapter "stories"). Never heard of Lillet before, but after reading about it, ran out to try a bottle! Much historical background on drinks and the booze that make them made this an interesting addition to the bar library.
The book lists about 50 situations (first date, bringing home someone ugly, conversations with strangers, the end of the world, etc.) and the appropriate drink, including variations. Turn it into a scavenger hunt: try to enjoy each drink in the corresponding situation. Some situations will require creativity. It's like a drinking game that lasts a few decades...
With all the ridiculously specific scenarios for each cocktail (Drinking with people you despise, Realizing your kid is dumb, etc) perhaps they should start a liquor-related advice column....How about a suggestion for drinking to forget the recession, fellas?
Now we live in a heaven of Friday afternoon cocktails, interesting, complex, delicious things like the rum daisy, the Sazerac, and the Perfect Manhattan. And while we drink them, I read aloud from this extremely funny book.
The authors - a bartender and a lawyer, and if that doesn't sound like the setup for a ribald joke I do not know what does - conjure the perfect situations for drinking their favorite cocktails. Revenge adultery? The French 75 (gin, lemon juice, champagne, mmm). Threesome? The Negroni (to which I say HEY! That's MY cocktail, and I am NOT that kind of girl). Looking for a fight? Start drinking Bobby Burns cocktails after work and by seven pm you will be bloody and grinning.
Offensive, oh yes. Marvelously so. But so inspiring, to wit:
Your Neighborhood Librarian's Nightmare in Pink
2 measures Hendricks gin
1/2 measure Lillet Blanc
Shake vigorously over ice, strain into a cocktail glass.
Variation: The Daydream in Pink: same cocktail, half and half with grapefruit juice.