Ready Writers Publishing Company
Soft cover, $19.95, 207 pp
In recent years, a group of cocktail lovers have started studying the history and traditions of their favorite drinks. Their goal is to make cocktails beverages that are made from the best ingredients, prepared by experts who have spent years honing their craft, and served in bars that are well-designed and elegantly constructed. Many of these authors have contributed to this annual volume, which is affiliated with the Museum of the American Cocktail.
Of the 11 articles in this volume, six are about the history of cocktails and five are about how cocktails should be prepared, including how bartenders should be trained and what ingredients work best. Of the historians, Gwydion Stone discusses the tortured history of absinthe, Lenell Smothers reminds us of the complexity of the mint julep, and Gary Regan finds out that the origins of the Cosmopolitan are shrouded in mystery. Christine Sismondo learns that the word “cocktail” first appeared in a Hudson, NY newspaper in 1806; she doesn’t find out why the word appears there, but tells us more than we wanted to know about 200 year old political feuds.
The best essay on making cocktails is by Dale DeGroff, who notes that bartending is an art. “The guest at a bar is in a shared space and the bartender sets the tone of that space,” he writes. If a bartender is depressed or rude, customers don’t come back.
Beer lovers will find these cocktail enthusiasts congenial company. Like us, these writers want to restore heritage and traditions that have been forgotten. Anyone interested in the history and traditions of alcoholic beverages will find Mixologist a good deal of fun.
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