The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique

The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique may not be ideal for the novice, but it’s an essential addition to any mixologist’s library. Written by bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the book follows in the vein of the blog he’s written for the last ten years, focusing on technique instead of drinks recipes. Most chapters are devoted to the bartending that happens before service: juicing, infusing and creating syrups, sodas, ice and even dairy products to mix into drinks; other sections delve into basics like shaking, measuring and garnishing. The book stands out for the precision and detail of its instructions, including practical advice on which lemons to use for juicing and which for zesting; the importance of blanching herbs before making syrups (so they don’t turn brown), implementing the Japanese stirring technique and creating a MacGyver Centrifuge out of a salad spinner and a food processor. There are also seven pages devoted to playing with fire for anyone who wants tips on how to make a Blue Blazer without burning yourself, your house and your loved ones to the ground.

The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique by Jeffrey Morgenthaler with Martha Homberg (Chronicle Books, San Francisco; $30)

Reviewed in W&S August 2014.