I've had this book for a few months now and thought I'd offer a review, for what it's worth. I would consider myself an intermediate home bartender. I'm looking for inspiration, technique, and novel ideas. In many ways this book meets or exceeds my expectations, but in the long run it will gather dust while other bar books get far more use (for me).
This is a wonderful looking book. The pictures are lovely and the layout is quite nice. Multiple indices make navigation easy.
When it comes to bartending basics (technique, tools, etc.) this book gives up nothing to other similar offerings (Dale Degroff's The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes comes to mind). The history of cocktails and the descriptions of various spirits are less personal than Degroff's, but perhaps one isn't looking for that in a cocktail book. As far as the basics go, this is a 5 star book.
Abou-Ganim also offers a table of "Selections by Season". This list of fruits and spices, their peak seasons, and spirit pairings is exceptionally useful. Certainly this information is available scattered across the internet, but having it all well-organized and in one place is worth a star on its own.
The recipes range from traditional to highly personalized (see, e.g., "My Martini"). Here, I suppose, is where the book loses steam for me. While Abou-Ganim offers a backstory and personal history for many of the cocktails, he is less open about the reasoning behind his choices. My idiosyncratic expectation is that a cocktail book (especially one presented like this) is a stand in for a conversation, or a 30-minute television show. I can read recipes put together by barely-less accomplished bartenders anywhere on the internet - the reason to read a book by one widely considered to be at the pinnacle of the craft is to understand what makes the difference between the average and the great. I remain unconvinced that this distinction comes down to the cost of the ingredients (at least, not every time). This bleeds over into my next issue with the recipes...
Abou-Ganim does offer an overture about quality in the opening pages, but anyone with a real interest in tending bar is going to know that premium labels and prices do not always mean premium flavor. Nevertheless, nearly every recipe calls for a rare, hard-to-find, or premium ingredient (not always the spirit). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with calling for such ingredients, but this reader would like to know why Abou-Ganim calls for Tanqueray No. Ten in his "Bar Fly" rather than another gin at that price point or lower? That is a random example, but a similar question could be asked for every other cocktail in the book. I don't mind spending the extra coin if there is some justification offered, but one isn't forthcoming here.
Ultimately this might just come down to expectations. I have slowly built up what I consider to be a well-stocked bar. I don't shy away from premium prices when I've been given good reason to spend extra. I also don't mind stocking something that only finds its way into one drink that I make. All that is just to say that I think I'm part of the target audience for this book, but it leaves me less than completely satisfied. The book reads like a one-sided conversation far too often.
The Modern Mixologist has a great deal to offer, and for some readers it may be just right. I would hesitate to give this to a beginner and I would hesitate to recommend it as a first entry into home bartending. But for someone willing to mine these recipes for interesting combinations and insights, this is worth perusing.