The Complete Book of Spirits: A Guide to Their History, Production, and Enjoyment Hardcover – Oct 26 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Many bartending guides provide scant information about drink ingredients themselves. So a Mai Tai calls for rumwhat kind? If youre mixing a Vodka Tonic, how should the vodka smell? Why does a Bombay Sling require bitters? (And what are bitters, anyway?) Blue, who is Bon Appétits wine and spirits editor, intelligently answers these questions and others in this full analysis of libations other than beer and wine. He covers vodka, aquavit, gin, rum, tequila, scotch and Irish whiskey, North American whiskey, brandy, liqueurs and bitters, addressing what each spirit is made of, how its made, its history, the various flavors that exist and even the numerous brands available. Blues historical outlines of each spirit are fascinating; for example, in the chapter on vodka, he tells the saga of the Smirnov (later changed to Smirnoff) family and their exile from Russia to Paris. But with the history comes up-to-the-minute information on popular beverages like the mojito, a rum drink thats currently "one of the hottest drinks on the club scene." Although the guide isnt lighthearted, its casual enough to inspire page-flipping and informal perusal.
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About the Author
Anthony Dias Blue is the author of several books, including The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks and American Wine: A Comprehensive Guide. For twenty years he has been Wine and Spirits editor of Bon Appétit. His reviews have appeared in magazines and newspapers across the country, including Wine Spectator, Robb Report, epicurious.com, American Way, and Decanter. Mr. Blue's Lifestyle Minute is broadcast several times daily on CBS radio. He lives in California.
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Dias Blue doesn't venture into esoteric selections that are insanely expensive and difficult to come by. This book is not for the pretentious mixologist. It will, however, be more than adequate for educating the working barman on the selections behind him. Nothing helps the upsell like knowing the rough differences in taste profiles and characteristics of the most commonly used spirits on the top-shelf.
Instead of using the most expensive as the yard-stick of measuring quality, I can now ask questions about my customers' taste and make solid recommendations that they'll enjoy (not to mention reasons why they should stray from the well). This keeps my customers spending more money on both their drinks and my tips, and it keeps my customers coming to me instead of my coworkers.
This book has also come in handy for building a versatile, inexpensive and high quality bar at home and given me lessons on how to organize verticle tastings of spirits I am unfamiliar with. This helps me trust my own palate instead of magazine reviews or tatted jackass mixologists with big belt-buckles and stupid haircuts that are only bartending because it pays the bills until they can find a job in finance.
If you're bartender: educate yourself and don't suck at your job, don't overpour, don't blindly recommend the most expensive selection and understand that the only people that respect the term "mixologist" are idiots.