Appetite: 3 coffee table books with expert cocktail recipes

Pub date April 29, 2010
SectionFood & Drink

Aesthetics matter. Beyond quality recipes, fine photography and presentation can make one cocktail recipe book stand out over another. Whether you are a cocktailian who interprets measurements for the modern day from Jerry Thomas’ 1800’s standard-setter, formerly known as The Bon Vivant’s Companion, or a cocktail appreciator who wants to make more than Lemon Drops (or anything “tini”), here are three books with recipes to please a novice or cocktail expert alike… and they’re beautiful to thumb through.

The Modern Mixologist by Tony Abou-Ganim with Mary Elizabeth Faulkner
Just out last month, Tony Abou-Ganim’s The Modern Mixologist is a coffee-table-showcase of a book with a clean, minimalist look. Abou-Ganim made a name for himself back in the day at SF’s own Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, then with Mario Batali (who wrote the book’s forward) in NYC and Steve Wynn in Las Vegas. Half the book is devoted to mixology history and basics, such as mixing methods, glassware, ice and garnishes, while the second half lists 60 “contemporary classic” recipes, like a Bayou Zinger with Southern Comfort, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and iced sweet tea. Abou-Ganim has a knack for making craft cocktails approachable and crowd-pleasing.

Artisanal Cocktails by Scott Beattie
Scott Beattie put Healdsburg’s fabulous Cyrus on the map for more than food with his cutting edge, garden-fresh cocktails. His book, Artisanal Cocktails, is the standard for creative, seasonal drinks, which are also works of art. It isn’t always for the novice: intricate recipes contain additional instruction for making your own spiced simple syrups or dehydrating fruit for edible garnishes, so it is a welcome challenge for cocktail lovers. Other recipes are simpler and just paging through this book is sheer inspiration for the possibilities and beauty inherent in a glass.

The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale Degroff
Dale DeGroff is often single-handedly credited with initiating the Cocktail Renaissance back in the ’80’s at NYC’s Rainbow Room when he brought classic cocktails and technique back into mainstream consciousness. He’s written two cocktail tomes, The Essential Cocktail being his most recent, with gorgeous photography and a classic elegance. He takes popular classics and elevates them, like Dale’s Hemingway Daiquiri, adding in Maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice, while expounding with instruction, drink lore and helpful techniques.