Cocktail Book Corner: The Bar Book by Jeffery Morgenthaler
One thing that I've always loved about Jeffrey Morgenthaler's style of drinks education is that there's just no BS. He's straight forward and relays things in a way that anyone can understand. I first caught wind of Morgenthaler a few years back via his blog www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com with a post entitled "Lady that is NOT a mojito". For anyone familiar with him you'll know exactly the video I'm referencing. I thought that he was really funny and charismatic and it made me, at the time a pretty novice bartender, really want to up my game and learn from this guy. I watched the videos he made with Small Screen network on YouTube and reveled in all the new things I was learning.
Morgenthaler was the first person that I'd come across who didn't expect everyone to do things his way but explained why his way was better.
Reading The Bar Book as an experienced bartender I can't help but agree with his ideas. Having been in the bar game for a while, it serves both as a refresher and a reaffirmation of the abilities I've learned on the job. I kinda wish that the younger version of myself had this book from which to learn. I feel that I would have progressed at a faster rate had a book like this been available. Although the book does feature some brilliant and simple to make at home cocktail recipes, it is not merely a recipe book. It is a manual on technique aimed at anyone and everyone who wants to make drinks. That includes newbie, veteran bartenders and home enthusiasts alike.
All of the basics are covered including measuring and pouring drinks, to more advanced techniques like cutting ice, carbonation and making your own mixers. The Bar Book instructs how to correctly pick and juice citrus, complete with experiments that test the shelf life of different fresh juices and which technique extracts the most liquid. This is something about which other bartending manuals have barely scratched the surface, yet here finally is a book that teaches people why and how to do it rather than leaving them to their own devices.
One of the most valuable lessons I took away from this book was how to prepare and use herbs when making syrups and cordials for cocktails. Beforehand I had just thrown a handful in when making the syrups and let time do the work. Morgenthaler's method makes so much more sense. He really shows you how to maximise the flavour potential of the ingredients that you're using.
It also covers cocktail equipment by informing readers what to use, why and how to use it. There are twelve concise, easy to follow chapters with beautiful photos that demonstrate the drinks, syrups and step-by-step instructions of how to make them.
It's a fantastic book for beginners and experts alike - a must have library staple for budding bartenders to enthusiasts.
Editor's note: Please join Alcohol Professor in congratulating Josh Powell in his accomplishments in the Bols Around the World Cocktail Competition! At press time, Josh is in First Place in the UK and third in the world! We are so proud of you, Josh!