Category Archives: Cocktail Books

From the 12BB Library: “Fix the Pumps” by Darcy O’Neil

By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson

The next time you pop the top on your favorite pop, think on this.  Soda pop would never even have been invented — or become as popular — had it not been for a little something called carbonation.  As Darcy O’Neil explains in his book Fix the Pumps, “Carbonation was once the sole reason to order a glass of soda.  The lively, tingling sensation of the carbonic acid tickling the tongue was fascinating to the early drinker.”  This fascination with soda and its evolution from a stimulant to America’s most popular beverage are the center of O’Neil’s must-read book.

“Fix the Pumps” is remarkable for many things, not the least of which being its collection of old recipes drawn directly from vintage soda fountain manuals (everything from Absinthe Extract and Kola Celery Tonic to Crab Orchard Water).  Where the book truly shines, however – at least in terms of the cocktail world – is in its ability to capture the connections between cocktail and soda culture, as well as to suggest how properly-made modern sodas can be as indispensable in the mixologist’s arsenal as the perfect Manhattan.

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From the 12BB Library: “Artisanal Cocktails” by Scott Beattie

By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson

At first glance, “Artisanal Cocktails” might seem an odd choice for the 12 Bottle Bar library.  After all, many of the drinks are vodka-based and, with their plethora of herbal/floral ingredients, complex to assemble.  The Wall Street Journal went so far as to describe author/bartender Scott Beattie’s drinks as “garden shrubbery in a glass” (meant in the best possible way… we think).  Yet, Beattie’s seasonal, craftsman philosophy is not far removed from that of 12BB or, for that matter, the realm of the original mixmasters like Jerry Thomas to whom we all owe a debt.

Like Thomas, Harry McElhone, and others from the past, Beattie has always championed the freshest, highest-quality ingredients possible.  Like today’s and yesterday’s best bartenders, Beattie uses precise, chef-like techniques, stresses the importance of quality ice, and shows how edible ingredients can elevate even the most basic drink.  In many ways, Beattie has been our Virgil in the realm of aromatic, seasonal mixology, teaching us to riff on the classics and encouraging us to create our own unique beverages.  While many of his recipes fall outside the purview of 12BB’s “rules”, his approach is dynamic and modern, making his book a must-have for any bartender, at home or otherwise.

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From the 12BB Library: “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock

If the word “luxury” hadn’t already been in existence at the end of the 19th century, the term which would have sprung forth in its place would have been “Savoy”.  Since the mid-1200s the spot nestled between London’s Strand and the Thames River has been synonymous with opulence.  The site originally held The Savoy Palace, which was considered one of the finest residences in medieval London until its destruction during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Many centuries later, Richard D’Oyly Carte, agent to the stars, would erect the Savoy Theatre on the old palace grounds and, within its walls, celebrate the operettas of his friends and clients, W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.  But what good was theatre if patrons didn’t have a place to crash afterwards?  Not seven years later, in 1889, the Savoy Hotel opened its doors to the world and became the very definition of “luxury”. Continue reading

From the 12BB Library: “The Hour” by Bernard DeVoto

By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson

Bernard DeVoto once described himself as “a literary department store.”  He was indeed a cornucopia of talents, equal parts historian and author, commentator and conservationist.  During his life, he was the recognized authority on all things Mark Twain, acting as curator and editor of the author’s papers.  His history of the west, “Across the Wide Mississippi”, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947.  From 1935 until his death twenty years later, he wrote “The Easy Chair”, a column for Harper’s Magazine. Yet, these credits merely skim the surface; in his day, DeVoto spoke and people listened. Continue reading