I agree with everyone else's praise for this book. It's definitely my "desert island" cocktail book. There are many bad cocktail books out there, there are a few good cocktail books, but this is the only "great" cocktail book. My only gripe is the index is not thorough enough to look up drinks by ingredient. For instance, you can't look up Benedictine and find all drink recipes containing that ingredient.
I took a course with Dale and found out first hand what it takes to make a truly great cocktail--and found out how bad most cocktails in bars really are. This book not only tells how to create really memorable drinks for yourself and guests, it also delves into the history of the various spirits and how they've been combined by savvy bartenders to create classics old and new. I've read through it several times, lapping up classics like the sidecar and DeGroff signature drinks like the Ritz. If you like cocktails, this is an amazing book. Nobody cares about getting the best results like Dale.
First of all, I am just a pretender, and I have no intention of ever becoming a professional bartender. With that said, this is definitely one of the best books I have picked up, and definitely the best bartender book I have ever seen. It contains vivid pictures of everything that Mr. Degroff is trying to explain and he gives great tips on everything from knowing what glassware and alcohols to have in your bar to unbelievable mix drink recipies. For those who do not drink, it even contains an unbelievable non-alcholic drink (the citrius cream). This book also makes a great coffee table book. Vistors that come by cannot keep their hands off of it! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to bartend for fun or professionally.
This book is one of the top drink mixing resources for the home bartender. Mr. DeGroff's approach to bartending is a culinary one; at his bar, taste is king, with restrained but elegant garniture. The book is loosely organized alphabetically by drink name, but there are subsections that deal with drinks thematically. One of my favorite "featurettes" is his idea for a Bloody Mary Buffet, where guests create their own beverages. Little touches like these make this book ideal for the home bartender wanting to throw an elegant occasion. The elegant layout somewhat masks the thoroughly researched nature of the work-- a look at the bibliography reveals a goodly number of cocktail books that could represent a good history of beverage-craft in the United States. An excellent book.
There are a plethora of books on the market which outline the history of spirits and garnish with anecdote. Dale DeGroff's book does a fine job of both, but the real value of his tome lies in the recipes. Mr. DeGroff is widely known as the finest bartender in the United States. His recipes reflect his own thoughtful theories of mixology - through spirit, mixer, and proportional characteristics. His chief aim as a barmaster has always been to produce libations which any discerning imbiber would enjoy and find memorable. As such, the recipes --some familiar, some not-- are worth their weight in gold. If Degroff's techniques and recipes are followed closely, a procession of grand drinks will result... and isn't that really what the craft of the cocktail is all about?
This is a stunning book - beautifully put together and a good read as well. With great sidebars and amusing anecdotes along with great cocktail recipes (with explanations of the terms to boot.) I bought one for myself as well as a few for gifts. I am quite sure the recipients will be pleased!
Dale's writing is reliable as his bartending, and just as entertaining. For novices, an introduction to the difference between making a drink and mixing a cocktail. For the professional, a few tricks they've never seen before (unless they were hanging out at the Rainbow Room). Highly recommend this one--and makes a great gift too.
I found this book to be much more than a great collection of elegant cocktail recipes. De Groff entertains the reader with a history of the cocktail from its early beginnings and the role of bars and barmen in American culture. There's a very useful how-to section for setting up a home bar, an interesting guide to the huge variety of spirits, anecdotes about the drinking habits of the famous, and items of "trivia" that even include a cure for hiccups. The photographs that accompany the text are exquisite.