Recipe books, you can find them by the dozen but technique books? They are harder to find, especially on the subject of drinks. According to its backcover, The Bar Book by Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the first bartending manual covering essential cocktail-making techniques.
The book is broken down into twelve chapters, each devoted to a category of base ingredients (including ice) or cocktail making techniques. There is even one about garnishes.
Through anecdotes from his long career as a bartender, Morgenthaler gives advices on bar equipment and how best to use them, as well as tricks on how to use every day kitchenware instead of expensive specialized equipment (like shaking cream in a canning jar to obtain whipped cream instead of using a cream whipper or tiring your arm with a manual whip). He also explains the properties of natural ingredients (the specificity of each type of citrus, the difference each sugar type brings to the taste of sugar syrup, …) and guides you through the preparation of your own complex ingredients, such as syrups, shrubs, infusions, bitters and tinctures. He also gives some historical and scientific background to ingredients and techniques. Upon reading about the history of carbonated water I was surprised to learn that Schweppes was founded in my hometown, Geneva, Switzerland.
What with the explanations being short and mostly presented in the form of anecdotes, The Bar Book is very pleasant to read. Its content is extremely interesting and informative. Whether you’re a seasoned bartender or just an amateur, you’ll learn a lot about both ingredients and techniques and not only about how things should be done a certain way but why. A definitive must-have on your bookshelves!
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