The Tally: Six Guides To Proper Drink Making

Making a solid drink is something that every self-respecting adult should know how to do and these six handy books are a great way to get your drink making skills up to snuff. Here in Los Angeles my favorite place to get drinks is Seven Grand which serves the best ol’ timey cocktails that I’ve ever had, you can’t go wrong with their Mint Julep. These books embody the same idea, that a simple drink can be timeless and easy to make.

Drinks by Jacques Straub
The sheer number of recipes herein makes this the first recorded example of what Robert Hess calls the “wad o’ drinks” book: the quick reference collection of drink recipes and nothing but drink recipes. … Drinks was intended as a pocket reference for bartenders and was kept in print by the Hotel Monthly Press even as Prohibition rendered its 700 formulae legally obsolete.

Cocktails: How to Mix Them by Robert Vermeire
Cocktails: How to Mix Them was first published in 1922, appearing at almost the same time as Harry McElhone’s Harry’s ABC of Cocktails. These volumes printed the first known recipes for the Sidecar, which Vermeire notes was “introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bartender of Buck’s Club.”

Old Man Drinks by Robert Schnakenberg
Forget boring mojitos, put down that tired cosmopolitan, and stop sipping that ridiculous appletini! It’s time to embrace Old Man Drinks the cocktails your grandfather would remember from his nights on the town, way back during the Eisenhower administration. Here you’ll find histories and recipes for Old-Fashioneds, Sidecars, Clover Clubs, Rusty Nails, Hot Toddys, Monte Carlos, and more than 60 other vintage cocktails. Accompanying the text are evocative black-and-white photographs of real old men enjoying their beverages of choice and dispensing such timeless words of wisdom as “I’m gonna die some day, so I may as well drink” and “I’ve taken an involuntary vow of celibacy.”

Barflies and Cocktails by Harry McElhone
It seems to me that for a volume of drink recipes to achieve whatever portion of true greatness a work of its kind may aspire to, it has to serve in some way as the annals of a community… By that standard, Barflies and Cocktails is one of the greatest of its kind.

Modern American Drinks by George J. Kappeler
What made George J. Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks so very valuable (then and now) are the many newly-published recipes, all with the same care lavished upon them as the old standards, but for drinks the public had never seen before. … If anything I am erring on the conservative side when I count these seventy-five new drinks—in an era when a bar book wasn’t plagiarism if it contained two or three.

Bartenders’ Manual by Harry Johnson
You hold in your hands an important piece of the puzzle, perhaps as important as the Rosetta stone which helped crack the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual presents not just the recipes in use by the bartenders of the late 1800s, but it provides a glimpse into the mindset, the business, and, more importantly, the pride in craftsmanship that was important for bartenders to focus on as they performed their craft.


December 29, 2010