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Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail Hardcover – November 10, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A manual to the most deliciously potent science kit ever.” (Publishers Weekly)

“If you want to know exactly how much ethanol is in your vermouth, how to work with liquid nitrogen and why a red-hot poker is useful behind a bar (it’s got nothing to do with unruly patrons), [Dave] Arnold is your best guide. Serious, sure. But there’s also a great spirit of play and experimentation here.” (Rosie Schaap - New York Times Magazine)

“Examines cocktails on the nanoscale… extremely fascinating.” (Wayne Curtis - Wall Street Journal)

“His observations offer insight to anyone with a cocktail shaker and a few basic ingredients… for amateurs looking to get creative with boutique spirits, Mr. Arnold’s data is a blessing.” (Rachel Wharton - Wall Street Journal)

“Dave Arnold is the smartest person I know in the world of food and drink. He’s relentless in his pursuit of understanding, of improved and new techniques, and above all, of deliciousness. Cocktail enthusiasts and professionals alike will find insights and inspiration galore in Liquid Intelligence.” (Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking)

“Like modern cocktails, most books about them are rejiggered rifts on the classics that came before. And then there’s Dave Arnold’s book: an entertaining treatise of more than ten years’ worth of pioneering research he’s used to create the game-changing cocktails at his bar, Booker and Dax. Required reading for all of us from now on.” (Jim Meehan, author of The PDT Cocktail Book)

“Dave Arnold has always been ahead of the curve in the cocktail world, and in this book he brings the rest of us up to speed.” (Wylie Dufresne, chef/owner of wd~50)

“Probably the most important cocktail book that’s been written ever.” (Julian Cox)

About the Author

Dave Arnold is a food science writer, educator, and innovator. He hosts the radio show Cooking Issues and runs the high-tech cocktail bar Booker & Dax in New York’s East Village, part of the Momofuku restaurant group. He has taught at the French Culinary Institute and at Harvard University and has appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and the Today show. In 2004 he founded the Museum of Food and Drink. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (November 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393089037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393089035
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.2 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew Maroon on November 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Last week I picked up Liquid Intelligence. I wanted to wait to write a review of it until I had a little time to digest the whole thing.

First off, I should say that I have a hetero-man-crush on Dave Arnold. I’ve been listening to Cooking Issues for well over a year now. He’s answered numerous questions of mine, some cocktail related. I’ve experimented with many of the concepts in the book before it came out. I bought some Pectinex Ultra-SPL, for instance, and agar, and did a few different juice clarifications. I built my own carbonation rig. I’ve read his work on chilling and dilution and watched all the YouTube videos. There isn’t much he’s done that I haven’t heard about.

So I was afraid going in that there’d be nothing I haven’t heard before. Turns out, there’s quite a bit in there I didn’t know, and there’s a lot more depth on some of the things I did know.

Dave (he’s answered enough of my questions that I feel like we’re on a first name basis) goes into depth on the science of cocktails. Want to know which sugars are sweeter upfront but fade faster? (Hint, things containing fructose, like agave nectar.) Or which acids to use when? The ingredients section has you covered.

Every bartender, whether professional or enthusiastic amateur, needs to read the section on ice. It clears up many misconceptions in the bar industry. There are 25 pages devoted to it, and they’re worth the read possibly more than anything else in the book.

His section on Cocktail Calculus has a balance chart that shows, at a glance, the sugar, acid, and alcohol levels of a cocktail. His formula lets you develop cocktails almost mathematically. That’s really interesting to me, and something I hope to play around with more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm going to sum up this book as succinctly as possible:

I'm a professional bartender that has remodeled his kitchen to be as much a chemistry lab as it is a place of cooking. I have a HUGE library dedicated to bartending books... in addition to cooking, gastro, flavor-profiling, pairing, etc. I love the food and beverage industry, and I believe that a bartender is as responsible for creating an enjoyable meal as a chef. My personality is front-of-house while my mentality and drive (and sometimes my personality, too) is back-of-house.

This book is perfect for people like me that are always on the look-out for ways to bring new techniques to their libations, not to mention a thorough explanation for why things work they way they do... which is wonderful for inspiration.

However, this book is also perfect for someone that simply wants to know how to make the magic happen at home.

1) Dave Arnold is a genius. Certifiably, not hyperbole. It takes a unique and gifted soul to bring this level of thoughtfulness to his trade, and a generous spirit to pass along just enough of that information to make someone incredibly dangerous if they're on a first-name basis with their welding shop (like me: former iron-worker). What he has to say about everything is worth paying attention to... especially the giant chapter on ice.

It's funny to say it, but embracing 25 pages on solid water has made me a much better bartender than the hundred of other pages detailing elevated techniques.

2) Outside of understanding how ice and dilution actually work to make or break a cocktail, there is very little in this book that pertains to bringing an extra bit of flair and wonder to your bar. Tossing bottles is for kids that work at TGI Fridays.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a simple book of drink recipes, "Liquid Intelligence" is not the book for you... but if you're looking for a book that explores the science, than this is exactly what the bartender ordered!

I was looking for a way to take my dinner parties to the next level, and found that Dave Arnold's experimental approach to creating cocktails to be a huge help! His encouragement to think like a scientist results in better drink making - especially in creating the right bubbly texture.

This book is filled with practical tips and covers all the basics (ice, equipment, foundation ingredients) as well as more advanced techniques (rapid infusions, fat washing, nitro-muddling). The pictures are great too!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing information is contained within this book. I've been an amateur cocktail enthusiast for years and some of my friends might agree that I make good drinks, but I've truly stepped it up a notch. Who would of thought adding a few drops of saline to a cocktail would make the flavor pop so much! It makes perfect sense now that I think about it. Maybe it was all those cheap margaritas in college that made me repulsed by the idea of salt in my cocktails, but now that I've tasted the difference I will never look back.
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Format: Hardcover
An astonishingly accessible and rigorously researched guide to some of the most advanced techniques in mixology, wherein Dave shares just about everything he's learned - painstakingly - in the last decade or more of researching both the "why" and the "how" of cocktails. Absolutely useful for - indeed, aimed at - the more thoughtful home mixologist, this book is the smarter, bigger brother of Jeffrey Morgenthaler's "Bar Book" on mixology technique, both of which are essential in any professional bartender's library. No-one serious about mixology can afford to pass this book by. Liquid Intelligence is also very funny to read - Dave has the knack of writing as if he's speaking to you, and that's a hell of a gift.
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