Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Spirits >
Oct 18, 2013 06:14 PM

Cocktail Books

Wanted to add a new cocktail book to the collection
I have Remixed and Sippin Safari

Going to add PDT and was thinking about Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Recipes by Ted Haigh

Is that any good or should I add a different one? I enjoy the historical context of a lot of the information as well, I really enjoyed reading through Sippin Safari all the stories etc

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Vintage cocktail by Haigh is great on background infor for lost and by gone era classics. If you like reading about the history of a libation and not just the recipe, then you will like this one.

    1. PDT is great, and so is Ted's book. I like Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology for the way he breaks down drinks into families. Although I don't feel that he thinks that way much anymore. He has kind of gone in different directions since then.

      I think that Mr. Boston is now great. Especially the edition edited by Jim Meehan of PDT, it's the 2009. He personally went over every single recipe and adjusted them as needed. He also brought in new recipes from a ton of the top bartenders from around the country.

      The 75th Anniversary edition 2011 edited by Jonathan Pogash is good too, but there are a few changes that take it down a notch for me.

      9 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        Actually after revisiting the Mr. Boston book, while the forward and intro info. in the 2009 edition is better, the 2011 75th Anniversary edition is a better book overall with all the cocktails of the 2009, plus many new ones, with attribution to the creators.

        1. re: JMF

          I like the info on page 153 in Vintage Spirits, and page 243 in PDT.

            1. re: JMF

              Wanted to take this cocktail book thread on a tangent to discuss PDT. This has to be nominated for the best cocktail book with the worst index. Here's what I mean. If you want to find a cocktail for the night by base spirit you are ok but it still make take you 10 minutes to get through all the whiskey cocktails. If you however think differently and want a drink based on secondary or lessor ingredients the god help you! I often have a citrus or amaro or absinthe in mind when thinking of a drink and in these cases the PDT index is awful. To all you cocktail book writers out there, please include all ingredients in the index to reference quickly to find a drink for those of us who do not have a Rain Man like memory. Better yet, might I suggest a table like page with base sprits on one axis and secondary ingredients on the other axis. Other things that chap me about this great book is when key ingredients like Absinthe are not listed in bold as ingredients. Also, the alphabetical misplacement of Death Bed before Daiquiri is a huge editing blunder. I welcome all thoughts.

              1. re: DrinkinLife

                Having done a cocktail book and heard all the criticisms, you can't please everyone. And you can't do everything people want without making a 200 page book with a 50 page index.

                Too much text, too little text, not organized by spirit, not enough description about bartenders, no color, not indexed by spirit, not indexed by obscure ingredients, not a web app, not an e-book, etc. Sometimes the criticisms are contradictory, meaning you can't be everything to everyone and if you went in one direction, you'd piss off the others.

                The way I search for cocktails in a book is to open it up and scan until I find thing I can and want to make. People who want complex algorythms to figure out what to make are probably better suited to use databases like Kindred Cocktails or CocktailDB.


                1. re: yarm

                  I do the same scanning all the time but this can be laborious. Also, it would have been helpful in PDT and any other book to have all ingredient in bold or prominent so scanning is quick and easy.

                  1. re: yarm

                    The Table idea would take your 50 page index down to 8, 4 for the drinks and 4 for everything else. Hope someone tries it.

                    1. re: yarm

                      Agreed Fred. Your book is set up to be able to very quickly scan for key ingredient(s). Well done.

              2. i dig 'the fine art of mixing drinks' by embury, though i guess it might be a bit dated.

                and then there's always the out of the box and magnificent 'the gentleman's companion'.

                1. Café Royal Cocktail Book is one of my favorites. Great for 1937, and great for today with drinks like the Lion's Tale and 20th Century that first made their appearance there and became classics.


                  1. I'll second The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Personally, I think a lot of the suggested proportions and other ideas are way off, but I still think it's a great read, and Embury writes with a lot of character.

                    I'm kind of a sucker for old books, though, since I think you get a sense of what the world was like back when it was written, which makes up for it being pretty dated. Really, I think it's more interested *because* it's dated.

                    Then again, if you're looking for a book full of useful cocktail recipes, I wouldn't say it's a top pick.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: A_Gonzalez

                      Yes, with any cocktail books that are written before 2000 I find that proportions may have to be tweaked. Ones from 1970-2000 may have to be worked over completely or abandoned. Before that classic styles may need some reworking. Classic Tiki may be fine as is or may have to be balanced due to excessive sweetness or sourness.

                      Our present day tastes have changed drastically over the years. I've done a lot of research on history of tastes in the US, and bit of Europe. Looking at what people liked to eat and drink. Flavors and aromas, perfumes and spices, since the 1700's. Up until about 1800 popular tastes changed slowly with fits and starts as new items entered the picture due to a variety of reasons. then in the 1800's this picked up and every 30-40 years popular tastes changed. By the 1900's this had picked up to every 20 or so years. Since about 1970 tastes changed pretty radically every ten years, but since 1995 it is getting even shorter to about every 3-5 years.

                      1. re: JMF

                        I think a lot of the fun of looking at the recipes in old cocktail books can be in trying to tweak/adjust them so that they "work" for our present day tastes. Even though I can't, for the life of me, figure out how to make all that creme de menthe in the Savoy cocktail book palatable.

                        Also, I think I remember a section on Scotch where Embury insists that blended whiskies are superior to single malts, but now I'm doubting myself, since I'm not even sure if they were making single malt whisky when the book was written. Hmm, I might be going crazy.

                        1. re: A_Gonzalez

                          Single malts have always been around, but in very small quantities until the 80's when they were pushed. The thing bout blends it their consistency, and that they tend to be conservative. even the more out there blends are not as extreme as many single malts. it's the nature of the beast.