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Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide: 75th Anniversary Edition (Mr. Boston: Official Bartender's & Party Guide) by Mr. Boston [25 November 2011] Hardcover
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This book is perfect for the home bar. The book is like having an unpretentious bartender friend come over to your house and give you mini lessons on what kind of bar equipment you need, how to stock your bar . . . and, most importantly, how to make drinks. By explaining the "nature" of different drinks, you get a feeling for why they work. Despite all the other useful and interesting info, the majority of the book is dedicated to drink recipes. None of them call for mixes -- there is a focus on using fresh lemon or lime juice, as well as instructions on how to make your own simple syrup. That said, you won't find a bunch of difficult or complex drinks that call for you to spend half an hour preparing ingredients like some of the newer fancy cocktail books appear. There are some newer recipes, but the book is mostly dedicated to classic drinks.
The size of perfect -- we can actually store it on top of the bar, but it would easily fit on a shelf or wherever you need it. The type is small but readable.
Overall, this book is a gem for the home bar.
Without a doubt, it is the grand-daddy of all bartender's guides. The intro is quite interesting, and I'm glad I have it. However, I bought "The Bartender's Black Book" by Steven Kittredge Cunningham on Amazon. It's spiral bound, lays flat so you can use it like a receipt book - read and create! I'm happy I have both of them.
Happy trails, Sarah
After looking through it and making a list of things to buy, I realized I really only had the things to make drinks I already knew how to make. I also noticed many of the recipes differed from ones I'd learned elsewhere. I decided to try their recipes.
I'd say making drinks the way this book told me to improved their taste and presentation by about 300%. I'm comfortable saying that anything made from this book will be at least drinkable but will most likely be amazing.
The book itself is a nice size for reference purposes. Drinks are organized by base liquor (Vodka, Whiskey, Tequila, etc) There's even sections for warm drinks/toddies, punches, and lots more. Reading at the front will expand mind of any amateur bartender.
It would be nice if it had a more comprehensive list of what basic things every bar needs, but you can find those things elsewhere so it's not really worth a star.
Drinks to try: Diablo, Sazerac, Hot Pants, El Matador
Does not have a lot of pictures, though, so you may need to check other books to know what equipment is what if you're new to the bartending hobby. Good for home hobbyist or as a professional reference. I like that it's organized by liquor type.