This week’s top book pick is from the modern master of the cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff, and his The Essential Cocktail. Dale was and continues to be one of the leaders in bringing back the cocktail and elevating bartenders back to their rightful status as professionals and masters of their craft that was destroyed during Prohibition.
Like the man, himself, the book demonstrates Dale’s straight-forward style, which is of great benefit to his readers. The book highlights both old classics, new classics and classics with a twist. Dale doesn’t forget that many of his readers will be working in their home bars and offers findable ingredients and easy to understand instructions. For those who want to be challenged, their are recipes for making foams and other fun stuff.
The other thing that I really like about the book is the history provided on drinks and ingredients. For each drink, Dale provides the history of the drink – who made it first, how it spread, who perfected it. He dedicates an entire page to Trade Vic and Donn the Beachcomber, the pioneers of the Tiki movement in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Since I have a soft spot for Tiki, Dale had be with that page alone. Yet, Dale doesn’t stop there. In each recipe where Dale highlights a particular liqueur or spirit, he does a little sidebar. In the sidebar, he explains what the liqueur or spirit is, or about the category if it relates to a category of spirits, and why you should use it.
The biggest plus to the book though is that the recipes are downright delicious. It is clear that Dale has perfected each of them. And, with his years of experience and vast knowledge, this is truly the best thing that he does for the reader. I have tried a number of the drinks myself and haven’t been disappointed. If you have a bar at home or are starting one, this book should serve as one of your essential guides.