My new project and a call for recipes

If you’ve ever flipped through some of the introductory cocktail guides on the market you know that they’re filled with drinks that either shouldn’t be made or were last made at a Miami nightclub sometime in 1978. And while it’s useful to keep a Big Book of Dumb Drinks on hand for reference, it’s also nice to have a Small Book of Good Drinks That People Will Actually Like. That’s basically what I’m working on now.

I’ve teamed up with a local publishing company in the spirits industry that’s been receiving requests from liquor stores to create a quality, inexpensive paperback cocktail guide for bartenders and home enthusiasts. They’re doing the design, layout, and marketing, and I’m doing the writing and editing. The aim is not to create the biggest recipe book on the market or a lengthy text on the craft of bartending. Rather we want to introduce readers to the basics of mixology and spirits and provide them with some quality recipes to explore; in short, to encourage readers to try a Last Word rather than, say, a Sloe Comfortable Screw Up Against the Wall Mexican Style with a Little Bit of English. (Yes, really.)

The guide will feature a lot of classics but we also want to include drinks from talented bartenders around the world. That’s where you come in. If you’d like to contribute a recipe, send an email to with your name, city, and bar (if applicable). There’s no money in it but full credit will be given and your drink will be introduced to a wider audience.

Since this is an introductory guide drinks need to be relatively simple. Off-the-shelf ingredients and fresh juices and herbs are great; homemade tinctures and bitters not so much. Recipes will be selected based on quality, our need to diversify spirits and locations, and limited page space. My thanks in advance for contributions and apologies for not being able to work them all into this edition of the guide.

(Oh, and if you have a better title than the Small Book of Good Drinks That People Will Actually Like, let me know about that too. I sort of like it but it’s a bit long!)

Update: If you have a favorite cocktail that you feel absolutely belongs in the book, feel free to nominate it in the comments as well!


19 thoughts on “My new project and a call for recipes”

  1. The Arnold: Tequila, grapefruit juice and a wedge of lime. (might not fit for a Book of Good Drinks That People Will Actually Like because nobody actually likes this drink with the exception of me. also i am not a bartender.)

  2. Good luck with the new project. I rock the big book of dumb drinks as well but I would bet all bartenders of all styles own at least have one of the editions. My other favorite little bar guide is from Robert Hess and is called “The Essential Bartender’s Pocket Guide”. Its got all the classics and its ideally sized (althought the portions vary from books by Wondrich, DeGroo, Regan, etc.- actually they all vary from one another). Honestly, I would leave the high maintenance, obscure ingredient recipes for the “Food and Wine” series too. Should we count on a lot of Genever inspired recipes? Joking of course or…….

  3. here’s my (amateur’s) attempt to create an interesting and unusual party drink, which you can either sip contemplatively or guzzle furiously, based on readily available ingredients.

    The Moral Hazard:

    – 2 oz tequila
    – 1 oz blackberry brandy/schnapps
    – 1 0z lime juice
    – 2-4 oz tonic

  4. A tribute to the famous songwriter-poet, Leonard Cohen and a song of his; “Dear Heather” is the drink that symbolizes the good ol’memories of ‘Youth’, ‘Love’ and ‘Hope’ that we store away in our minds until our darkest, deepest moments in life calls out for such inspiration again. Hints of Saffron, Rhubarb, Fennel and Honey, this is definitely the drink that satisfies! I created this drink for the Australian National Drambuie Cocktail Competition and placed third for it.

    40ml Drambuie
    15ml Strega Liqueur
    30ml freshly pressed Lemon juice
    3 dashes Fee Brother’s Rhubarb bitters
    dash of Egg white
    Garnish: Orange zest
    Glass: Champagne coupe
    Instructions: Dry shake all ingredients first to emulsify egg white with the ingredients then shake very hard with lots of ice and double strain into the champagne coupe.

  5. Priscilla, how do you add a dash of egg white? Do you beat egg whites and load them into a bitters-style bottle before each service?

    Jacob, I have a request: be precise in your recipes. You can encourage people to treat the recipes as loose guides, but the recipes themselves should be accurate and prescriptive.

  6. @Barzelay: All the recipes will be given in precise measurements followed by instructions on whether to shake or stir, serve on the rocks or up, in which glassware, and how to garnish.

  7. Among my “must-include”s are:

    Last Word
    Corpse Reviver #2

    I think the last three are particularly important because it helps to hammer home the notion of the malleability of the great cocktail recipes, like the Manhattan, the Negroni and Bijou.

  8. Lush Angeles: most excellent choices! They are very delicious cocktails that have stood the test of time with good reason.

    Barzelay: you are almost correct 🙂

  9. Jacob: would cinnamon syrup be somewhat too obscure? Weighing a couple possibilities for submission, but that’s part of one.

    Also, I vote for including a proper Mai Tai recipe. People are unnaturally scared of them.

  10. Congrats Jacob!! That’s awesome! Glad to see your talents are being recognized and put to good use. I don’t have a recipe of my own, but i’ve always tried to follow Walker Percy’s Mint Julep recipe, when the mood for such a cocktail strikes–about every three years or so or whenever i happen to find myself at a Derby party: “Reader, just in case you don’t want to knock it back straight and would rather monkey around with perfectly good bourbon, here’s my favorite recipe, ‘Cud’n Walker’s Uncle Will’s Favorite Mint Julep Receipt.’
    “You need excellent bourbon whiskey; rye or Scotch will not do. Put half an inch of sugar in the bottom of the glass and merely dampen it with water. Next, very quickly—and here is the trick in the procedure—crush your ice, actually powder it—preferably in a towel with a wooden mallet, so quickly that it remains dry, and, slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside of the glass, cram the ice in right to the brim, packing it with your hand. Finally, fill the glass, which apparently has no room left for anything else, with bourbon, the older the better, and grate a bit of nutmeg on the top. The glass will frost immediately. Then settle back in your chair for half an hour of cumulative bliss. ”

    Might warrant an entry, but i leave it to you:)

  11. Too often people will think many cocktails are too strong and often too small, be sure to include some big refreshing alternatives to having a beer.

    Tequila Basil Lemonade:
    This is a great recipe that calls for some discretion. Measurements can be all over the place, but there is a wide happy area with it.

    1 1/2 – 2 shots tequila
    some basil (# of leaves varies based on size and type of basil — 2 or 3 big leaves should do it, though)
    1/2 – 1 shot simple syrup
    juice of half of a lemon (or a whole lemon if your lemon is dry)

    muddle the basil and simple syrup, add the tequila and lemon juice, shake, pour into glass with ice, top with seltzer, stir gently

    It tastes good, but lemon variations make it tricky — maybe good for “recipes need to be changed sometimes”

  12. Kir drinks are fun (kir royales, kir normandes) and easy to make. But what I’m really looking for these days is a good rum-and-cider cocktail or punch. They’re two great tastes that taste great together but I can’t find a recipe I like.

  13. I think a small section on making simply syrups would be good, as they are, like most things daunting without guidance, but deceptively, er, “simple” when you get the basics. Simple syrup, cinnamon simple, lemon/basil simple, honey simple, etc., are all very easy to make and can work wonders, even for the home mixologist. A page at best with suggestions on additives/flavors….. Black pepper simple, anyone?

  14. Great project!

    The Bitter Tears has been more popular than I thought it would be and I think it’s a good example of a low alcohol cocktail, how salt tempers bitterness, and using vermouth as a base:

    2oz Good Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica of course)
    1oz Cynar
    1/2oz Lemon Juice
    1/8tsp Fleur de sel

    1. Stir ingredients with large dry cubes to chill while keeping dilution to a minimum.

    2. Pour slowly over a large ice cube in a wide coupe.

    3. Sprinkle a pinch of fleur de sel on the cube and enjoy watching it burn it’s way through the ice.

    (all my flowery BS can be removed of course, and the salt could be simplified to ‘large sea salt’ or some such better description)

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