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Mix Shake Stir: Recipes from Danny Meyer's Acclaimed New York City Restaurants Hardcover – May 11, 2009
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Straight Up: Talking Cocktails with Danny Meyer
As the owner of some of New York's most acclaimed restaurants (with 19 James Beard Awards between them), restaurateur Danny Meyer has been raising the bar on hospitality for a generation of diners. In Mix Shake Stir, a gorgeous collection of creative cocktails, mixology tips, and gourmet nibbles, Meyer extends his legendary level of service behind the bar, offering readers the ultimate resource for elegant entertaining at home. Amazon.com senior editor Brad Thomas Parsons checked in with Meyer to talk about cocktail culture, signature drinks and spirits, and entertaining at home.
Amazon.com: So I imagine you and your staff had a grand time testing the recipes for Mix Shake Stir. What are some of your favorite drinks in the book?
Danny Meyer: I'm fond of anything that does not include Tequila or Gin. There. Now you know the two spirits I just can't stomach. Seriously, one of my top favorites is the Dirty Pete [recipe follows]--so named because it's a dirty martini juiced up with Texas Pete hot sauce. There's a fun story behind its creation. It fits perfectly at Blue Smoke.
Amazon.com: In the introduction to the book you ruminate on the "ritual of cocktail hour" your parents and their friends observed when you were growing up in St. Louis. There's even a drink in the book, the Mortoni, in honor of your father. Do you think the at-home cocktail hour will ever regain its Mad Men-era popularity?
Meyer: Every now and then, one or two--or more--people find themselves tempted by the idea of a cocktail--even though it had been the furthest thing from their mind when they arrived. When entertaining at home I sometimes begin by saying, "I'm having a cocktail--but we also have wine and beer if you'd prefer." Cocktails will probably not regain their early dominance--mostly because there weren't as many really good wines back in the Mad Men era. But they'll always have a place at the table.
Amazon.com: What are some of your tips, regarding cocktails, for successful entertaining at home?
Meyer: Always have plenty of ice on hand, and make sure to have a bottle of each major spirit--vodka, gin, white and dark rum, scotch, and bourbon. It helps to have vermouth in case someone might want a martini, and it can't hurt to have lemon, lime, and green olives.
Amazon.com: I'm a firm believer that every man should have a go-to drink at the ready when he steps up to order at the bar. What's yours?
Meyer: The Mortoni. Equal parts Campari, vodka, and tonic; over lots of ice and garnished with a lime. I named it for my late father, Morton Meyer, whose go-to drink was a Negroni (which is classically gin or vodka mixed with Campari and vermouth). I'd drink a Mortoni over a Negroni any day.
Amazon.com: Do you have a favorite signature drink at each of your restaurants?
Meyer: I love the Dark and Stormy at Blue Smoke. And the Martini at Eleven Madison Park (have it mixed tableside!) is peerless. At Tabla, I'd order the Tablatini, and at Union Square Cafe, I tend to drink wine.
Amazon.com: I would think that, after the reservationist and the host or hostess, the bartender plays a pivotal customer-service role in your organization. What special touches do the bartenders working for your Union Square Hospitality Group bring to your bars?
Meyer: They are hosts, listeners, and guides--long before they're mixologists! They need to understand our food, our service style, and important details about our guests.
Amazon.com: Whether I'm alone or even with a friend, I often prefer sitting and eating at the bar rather than a table. What's your take on dining at the bar? Should it be reserved for drinking?
Meyer: No! Going all the way back to 1985 when Union Square Cafe first opened, we've never even contemplated building a bar without imagining it full of diners as well as drinkers.
Amazon.com: With a return to vintage recipes like fizzes, smashes, swizzles, and slings and housemade infusions, syrups, sodas, and bitters, many bars and restaurants are displaying a renewed interest the pre-Prohibition Golden Age of the American cocktail. Do you think this is a trend that's here to stay?
Meyer: I think for a number of years, peoples' interest in wine leapfrogged their passion for cocktails. But now cocktails are enjoying a renaissance in terms of the interest they're generating among inquisitive hedonists. There will always be adventuresome and aspirational types who seek what's new, and what is good. For that reason, there's no going back!
Amazon.com: You also touch upon the importance of ice in the book, an increasingly popular topic among drink aficionados. Have you installed Kold-Draft ice machines (the ones that crank out those slow-melting, perfect 1.25 x 1.25 cubes of nearly impurity-free ice) in any of your restaurants?
Meyer: Yes. Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern take their ice especially seriously. And regardless of the ice machine at our places, we filter the water before it becomes ice.
Amazon.com: Mix Shake Stir features many drinks inspired by greenmarkets, and more bartenders seem to be taking cues from kitchen (and vice versa) when creating their cocktails. Your Heirloom Bloody Mary is a great example. How have your bartenders surprised you with their renewed attention to using seasonal ingredients?
Meyer: It's really not a surprise, because many of our bartenders were once either waiters or even cooks. They're around good food and ingredients all day, and they want to use those same quality ingredients they see elsewhere in the restaurant behind their bars.
Amazon.com: I really admired the use of spirits like Aperol, Chartreuse, Punt e Mes, and Cherry Heering in the book. What do you think is an underrated spirit that more people need to pay more attention to?
Meyer: The one you like the best! Not that it is underrated, but I am an avowed nut for Campari.
Amazon.com: I like to see a bartender dip a cocktail straw into a mixed drink to sample it to make sure it's achieved its proper balance. You mention in the book it's like a chef tasting a dish before sending out. Do you think enough bartenders are doing this?
Meyer: It's important that bar patrons understand what's going on with that straw dip... I can imagine that for many people it's like, "get your straw out of my cocktail!" In any case, we owe it to our guests to make sure that food and drinks taste as good as they’re supposed to. Tasting helps.
Amazon.com: You even include many nibbles and bar snacks to complement the drinks in Mix Shake Stir but I have to ask how Blue Smoke's BBQ potato chips and blue cheese dip didn't make the final cut? If I ask really nicely could you share the recipe?
Meyer: I'm sorry that I haven’t been able to get Chef Kenny Callaghan to share it. It is mighty good, though!
Amazon.com: It's been a tough time for many restaurants, but here in Seattle, with every restaurant that closes there's another big-buzz debut in the works and many downtown joints are seem to have a "what recession?" vibe as they're SRO at 9PM on a weeknight. Hospitality seems more important than ever. What are some keys for a restaurateur to attract and maintain loyal customers in this economic time?
Meyer: The same as always: good food, deft service, and a warm, genuine welcome. The recession has been humbling for everyone. But it's not hard to show humility when you know that it is harder than ever for people to part with hard-earned dollars in your restaurant. Extra appreciation goes a long way. I will say that our hospitality industry never ceases to amaze with can-do entrepreneurs. Behind every fallen leaf lies a fresh, green bud.
Amazon.com: With Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, El Verano Taqueria, Box Frites, and the Delta Sky360 Club you're a big part of the much buzzed-about culinary scene at Citi Field, the Mets' new ballpark. How has the experience been so far?
Meyer: We have learned an enormous amount. The team we've fielded there has been remarkable, and I'd reckon they've created as much fan pleasure with their food and hospitality as the Mets have on the field! None of us can wait until next year to apply all we’ve learned to keep improving even further.
Amazon.com: And speaking of Shake Shack, how does the new Upper West Side outpost compare to the original Madison Park location?
Meyer: Our Upper West Side Shake Shack--unbelievably--is just as busy as the original in Madison Square Park. But because we had more space to work with, we were able to increase the size of our kitchen, and so the line moves quickly. What I'm proudest of is the incredible level of consistency both in terms of the food and our team's service and hospitality.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
My mother has a glass of Manischewitz Cream Red Concord --- "a sweet but balanced wine with a velvety mouth feel" --- once every decade or so.
Me? Two drinks and I get giddy, then sleepy. There is no cheaper date.
But every once in a while someone makes an exotic drink that hides the taste of the key ingredient, and I suddenly see how I could develop a serious liking for darkened bars and delicious libations.
Do not, if you have a problem with alcohol, open this book --- the pictures alone will have you in the gutter. Really, these beverages are as shiny as jewels. From the glassware to the ice cubes, everything is spectacular. A rim of salt is so even you'd suspect a surgeon applied it. Fruit isn't cut, it's carved. Open this book to any page and you'll find yourself thinking, "Well, it's 5 PM somewhere."
Which is more or less what you'd expect from Danny Meyer, whose New York restaurants include Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, 11 Park Madison, Table, Blue Smoke, The Modern and the Shake Shack --- every one a winner. This man knows how to please his customers, and if you think that's foodie hype, just dip into his memoir, 'Setting the Table'.
Not that you can go to your liquor cabinet and whip up most of these 100 drinks.
There's a slight trick to these potions: uncommon ingredients. Freshly made ice cubes are the least of it --- we're talking flavored vodkas, obscure syrups, herbs like Thai basil. And then it's just a matter of nicely tweaked recipes. Like a mojito made with champagne and rose water. Or Blue Smoke's Dirty Pete, a martini that calls for olive brine and hot-pepper sauce instead of vermouth.
The proof's in the tasting. From modest experience: I'll have another, bartender.
But perhaps the best part about the book is that the results deliver. So far I've made the Moscow Mule, Hibiscus Mojito, and Winter Solstice and all were absolutely delicious. Some required more work than others (i.e. making homemade infused syrups) so if you're someone who doesn't want to put in the time to do prep work, this may not be the book for you. But I found the results worth it. For example, the ginger and lime infused syrup for the Moscow Mule was fantastic! (Tip: some of the recipes called for cane syrup which can be a bit pricey but I found recipes online for a substitute you could make yourself which still yielded a pretty tasty cocktail.)
The only thing that I wish is that there were more info in the book on which cocktails can be batch made well. I made some guesses, but of all the cocktail books I have used few mention this. To me it's a miss because if I'm hosting a cocktail party I don't want to be immobile all night, making drinks to order with my friends.
Other than that, I loved this book. Not only were the cocktails I've already made delicious but I can't wait to try even more in the book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We love Mortoni, Venetian Spritz, Ginger Tonic, Pom Gimlet, and Skidoo.Published 17 months ago by acypher
Great book for lots of different drinks and food. Only thing wish was different was actual recipe print is a lil small. It's a wonderful and informative book. Read morePublished on April 10, 2014 by Flutter
Great book for any chef/ homemaker/ bartender/ aficionado. Fantastic pictures, clear instructions, and great quotes and tidbits from Union Square Hospitality Group employees.Published on May 25, 2013 by S
This book from Union Cafe in New York is intend for the cocktails lovers. Its modern recipes 'Coming up Roses' and 'St-Germain 75' to name a few, includes multiple distinctive and... Read morePublished on February 24, 2013 by Marc Meunier
This is a recent acquisition to my cooking library. I now know where to go immediately when I am whistful for a wonderful cocktail. Read morePublished on February 21, 2013 by E
This is an excellent choice for a bartender who is just starting out. It has lots of pictures, so you can see what the finished product should look like. Read morePublished on February 21, 2012 by gizzie
This book mix shake stir is old ingredients with a new name.
If you have never made any drinks then this book is okay for his restaurant but not all restaurants
But not... Read more
I must admit, I purchased this book for $5.00 at Marshall's. When I got home, I spent about and hour "ooh"-ing and "ahh"-ing over the creative yet accessible cocktail combinations... Read morePublished on April 12, 2011 by JP