The Bottom Line
- A lively, intelligent discussion of 19th century drinks and bartending.
- The most complete history available of the first "celebrity" bartender, Jerry Thomas.
- Original, classic recipes interpretted for today's ingredients and tastes.
- Similar cocktails referred to within text, but without a recipe, are bold for easy reference.
- Includes a "how it was done then" chapter about bartending in the 1800's.
- It's hard to put down the book and take in all the information in one read through.
- Written by Dr. David Wondrich, leading cocktail historian.
- Forward by Dale DeGroff, founder of The Museum of the American Cocktail.
- 303 pages, hardcover, includes over 100 classic cocktail recipes
- Published by the Penguin Group, 2007
- Retails for around $23.95
Guide Review - Imbibe! From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash
The manner in which Wondrich explains all of these punches, toddies, juleps, cocktails and fizzes is intriguing and filled with historical reference, banter and debates that grab you, hold you and keep you reading. Once you get through the Toddy debate and grasp that it and a sling are essentially the same drink (one hot, one cold), you're tossed into the Cocktails (including the real "Cocktail").. With each recipe he gives the original printed recipe via Thomas' books (or other sources) and interprets them for modern tastes and ingredients, including recommendations for recreating the tastes of the “old” cocktails using today’s spirits.
The appendices of Imbibe! are some of the most interesting and lively "extras" I've ever read in a book. One breaks down the theories behind the origin of the Martini (including the theory that the "Professor" himself was responsible), and another discusses the stories behind the naming of the cocktail. The latter is a perfect example of the author’s voice, honesty, logic and knowledge found in the rest of the book. When breaking down the "Rooster Tail" theory, Wondrich contemplates why we are willing to accept such a theory: "...How would you react if someone stuck a feather yoinked from a bird's ass in your drink? Precisely."