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Good Spirits

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Good Spirits Bartending Guide by A.J. Rathburn

Good Spirits Bartending Guide by A.J. Rathburn

The Bottom Line

Good Spirits is an extensive and entertaining volume of cocktail recipes, bartending tips and tricks and party ideas. This bartending guide was written by A.J. Rathbun and is filled with the author's wit and wisdom from years of experimenting with the fine art of mixing cocktails. Of the 450 cocktail recipes the book contains, all are valuable, from the classics to the new favorites and the little bit more obscure. I've found this to be an essential addition to my cocktail reference library and it's a great cover-to-cover read.
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  • 450 cocktail recipes with entertaining commentary.
  • Sidebars like "5 First Date Drinks" with recommendations and bar jokes.
  • Color photographs of many cocktails.
  • Insightful bartending tips.
  • 12 chapters with specific types of drinks.


  • Very large book, not one to keep behind the bar unless you have a lot of room.


  • Written by A.J. Rathbun
  • Published by Harvard Common Press
  • Released in October, 2007
  • 484 pages, 450 cocktails
  • ISBN: 9781558323360
  • Retails for around $29.95

Guide Review - Good Spirits

Of the many bartending guides and cocktail recipe books on the shelves there are few that stand apart from the rest and Good Spirits is one of them. It is a hefty book, weighing in at 488 pages, each of which is filled with valuable information for both the professional and amateur bartender. The true appeal of this particular guide, and what makes many of my other favorites different, is the author's insight written with nothing less than what we would expect from this industry, intellectual bar wit. Good Spirits is not only a reference to open whenever you're looking for the next great drink, but it's also an intelligent, enjoyable book to sit down and read if you want to study the art of mixology.

Good Spirits has become one of my essential cocktail references because it not only includes the classic cocktails (Gold Standards chapter) that any bartending guide with its salt should have, but it also has many of the newer favorites (Fresh Faces chapter) like the Jellyfish Cocktail and the Mango Batida. There are so many recipes of all styles that one can almost get lost in them, but if you're ever looking for something different you're sure to find it here.

For the party host there are sidebars with suggestions of cocktails for common and not-so-common occasions. From the "Board Game Beverages" to "4 Drinks to Induce Dancing" and "6 Sweetheart Bachelorette Party Sippers." It's all about fun and creativity and it never stops in Good Spirits.

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