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The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipesby Dale DeGroff
Synopses & Reviews
THE HISTORY OF THE COCKTAIL
I learned abut cocktails much the same way I learned to tend bar. Certainly through research, but mainly through experience.
My fellow bartenders taught me how to treat people, my customers taught me about life, and most important, my mentor, the great restaurateur Joe Baum, taught me how little I knew. Joe sparked my curiosity to find out what makes a great cocktail.
The cocktail is, in a word, American. It's as American as jazz, apple pie, and baseball; and as diverse, colorful, and big as America itself. Indeed, it could even be argued that the cocktail is a metaphor for the American people: It is a composite beverage, and we are a composite people. Let's begin by looking at what preceded its invention.
The early days
Before Europeans settled in America, they had been cultivating beverage traditions for centuries. Southern Europeans, around the Mediterranean, produced wine and brandy, while distilled-grain spirits were part of the tradition and culture of the peoples who inhabited the northern tier of Europe, where it was too cold for wine grapes to grow. Interestingly, the distillates produced with fermented grape and grain mash were also revered for their medicinal qualities, and came be known as aqua vitae in Latin, eau-de-vie in French, usquebaugh in Gaelic, and water of life in English. Naturally, as the technology of distilled spirits from grain and grape advanced, water of life could be produced more cheaply and in greater quantities, and eventually it was used to produce flavored cordials and liqueurs.
Once the Europeans established themselves on this side of the Atlantic, they put to good use the beer- and wine-making skills they had brought with them from the Old World. They also brought the Old World opinion that drinking water was unwholesome, even dangerous. The early colonists were voracious experimenters, fermenting beverages from practically everything they could get their hands on: pumpkins, parsnips, turnips, rhubarbs, walnuts, elderberries, and more. They flavored their beer with birch, pine, spruce, and sassafras. They planted apple orchards everywhere from Virginia northward to produce cider and, more important, applejack, which provided the base for many early colonial drinks. Applejack was also popular because it could be made without the use of expensive distilling equipment. Fermented apple juice, or hard cider as it was called, was left out in the cold in late fall and early winter. As layers of ice formed on the surface of the cider, they were skimmed off, removing the water content and thus concentrating the alcohol in the remaining liquid.
Conversely, as trade between the Old and New worlds increased, Europe in turn discovered the plants and botanicals that the colonists were well on their way to exploiting. As early as 1571, a Spanish doctor named Nicolas Monardes published a document describing plants and medicines from the Americas that were being assimilated into daily life all over Europe. In Italy and France, these plants eventually found their way into fortified and flavored wines, such as vermouth and other aperitif wines. Ironically, these products made their way full-circle across the Atlantic, where they later played a pivotal role in the growth of the cocktail tradition.
That cocktail tradition began with rum. Distilling spirits began commercially in the New World in 1640 when Wilhelm K
Cocktails are bigger than ever, and this is the first real cookbook for them, covering the entire breadth of this rich subject. The Craft of the Cocktail provides much more than merely the sameold recipes: it delves into history, personalities, and anecdotes; it shows you how to set up a bar, master important techniques, and use tools correctly; and it delivers unique concoctions, many featuring DaleDeGroff's signature use of fresh juices, as well as all the classics.
Debonair, a great raconteur, and an unparalleled authority, Dale DeGroff is the epitome of Perfect Bartender, universallyacknowledged as the world's premier mixologist. From Entertainment Weekly and USA Today to the Culinary Institute of America and the nation's best restaurants, whenever anybody wants information or training on the bar, they turn to Dale for recipes, for history, for anecdotes, for fun--for cocktail-party conversation as well as forcocktails.
That's what The Craft of the Cocktail is--the full party, conversation and all. It begins with the history of spirits, how they're made (butwithout too much boring science), the development of the mixed drink, and the culture it created, all drawn from Dale's vast library of vintage cocktail books. Then on to stocking the essential bar, choosing theright tools and ingredients, mastering key techniques--hints worthy of a pro, the same information that Dale shares with the bartenders he trains in seminars and through his videos. And then the meat of thematter: 500 recipes, including everything from tried-and-true classics to of-the-moment originals. Throughout are rich stories, vintage recipes, fast facts, and other entertaining asides. Beautiful color photographs and astriking design round out the cookbook approach to this subject, highlighting the difference between an under-the-bar handbook and a stylish, full-blown treatment. The Craft of the Cocktail is thattreatment, destined to become the bible of the bar.
From the Hardcover edition.
DALE DeGROFF has been called “the Billy Graham of the holy spirits” by the London Tribune and “a master” by Martha Stewart, and is widely acknowledged to be the preeminent mixologist in the world. He’s been featured in dozens of magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Penthouse, Food & Wine, and Forbes; his television appearances include Martha Stewart Living and Today. For twelve years, Dale ran the bar at New York City’s Rainbow Room and now serves as a consultant for such top restaurants as Balthazar. He has taught at the Culinary Institute of America (and stars in their bartending video) and the Institute for Culinary Education, among other venues. Dale grew up in Westerly, Rhode Island, and now lives on Long Island.
Visit Dale DeGroff at www.kingcocktail.com.
From the Hardcover edition.
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