The Essential Cocktail

  • Rating: 9
  • Value: 9

One of the Modern Classics by a Master

TITLE: The Essential Cocktail 
SUBTITLE: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks
AUTHOR: Dale Degroff
PUBLISHER: Clarkson Potter (Random House), 272 Pages
TYPE: Drinks Recipes
COST: $35.00
REVIEWED BY: Chris Carlsson,


Beautifully done in both material and layout, this is bound to be a must have classic tome on mixology. While it covers only about 500 recipes,it covers 500 worthwhile or essential(hence the title)cocktails, all well worthy of inclusion in a cocktail reference book – not just a compendium of every drink ever concocted (for better or worse).

Almost every drink is given a short but interesting history / intro, then ingredients, directions, and photographs of the finished drink. Larger format (quarto or about 10 1/2″ Tall and 8″ wide)with a rarely seen (in drinks books past or present) decent binding so it stays open nicely with tasteful graphics,easy to read type fonts,and even a nicely retro cover (under the more modern dust jacket),it combines the practical and the high art both in its content and production.

A lot of thought must have gone into not only the contents of the books but also the practical aspects of it. Built not only to please the eye and palette it works well on a counter, (or better yet behind one of those clear plastic book holders),laying flat, easy to read/consult,easy to wipe pages,and logically organized with a fine array of carefully chosen drinks.

While not as exhaustive as Dale’s other classic The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Make 500 of the World’s Best Drinks and Host Legendary Parties. It is a precis on how to do the included cocktails properly and artfully.

Slightly larger squareish format makes it an easy it easy to prop open for consultation while mixing – Hell of a lot better than those tiny Mr. Boston books. Only improvement I would suggest is if they did a spiral binding so it would lay flat. Excellent value for the money.

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