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Drinking Distilled: A User's Manual

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An opinionated, illustrated guide for cocktail beginners, covering the basics of spirits plus making and drinking cocktails, written by celebrated craft cocktail bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler. This easy-reading, colorful introduction for cocktail beginners, with approximately 100 succinct lessons on drinking culture, spirits, and cocktail making, is delivered in the pi An opinionated, illustrated guide for cocktail beginners, covering the basics of spirits plus making and drinking cocktails, written by celebrated craft cocktail bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler. This easy-reading, colorful introduction for cocktail beginners, with approximately 100 succinct lessons on drinking culture, spirits, and cocktail making, is delivered in the pithy, wry style Morgenthaler is known for in his instructional videos and writing for beverage publications. Novices will learn how to order a drink, how to drink with the boss, how to drink at the airport, and more. Twelve perfect starter recipes--ranging from a Dry Gin Martini to a Batched Old-Fashioned (perfect for the flask)--plus thirty original illustrations round out this distillation for new enthusiasts.


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An opinionated, illustrated guide for cocktail beginners, covering the basics of spirits plus making and drinking cocktails, written by celebrated craft cocktail bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler. This easy-reading, colorful introduction for cocktail beginners, with approximately 100 succinct lessons on drinking culture, spirits, and cocktail making, is delivered in the pi An opinionated, illustrated guide for cocktail beginners, covering the basics of spirits plus making and drinking cocktails, written by celebrated craft cocktail bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler. This easy-reading, colorful introduction for cocktail beginners, with approximately 100 succinct lessons on drinking culture, spirits, and cocktail making, is delivered in the pithy, wry style Morgenthaler is known for in his instructional videos and writing for beverage publications. Novices will learn how to order a drink, how to drink with the boss, how to drink at the airport, and more. Twelve perfect starter recipes--ranging from a Dry Gin Martini to a Batched Old-Fashioned (perfect for the flask)--plus thirty original illustrations round out this distillation for new enthusiasts.

30 review for Drinking Distilled: A User's Manual

  1. 5 out of 5

    H James

    Atypically for a top-bartender-authored work, this little slip of a book from Mr Morgenthaler is targeted to the novice—someone who may not be able to name a single ingredient in a Daiquiri or gauge how heavily a 5:1 Martini will hit them compared to a pint of Miller Lite. This is the first book I've read that speaks to this audience, and it's been a decade since it might have applied directly to me, but I found it to be generally pretty admirable. Mr Morgenthatler is at his best when he's teachi Atypically for a top-bartender-authored work, this little slip of a book from Mr Morgenthaler is targeted to the novice—someone who may not be able to name a single ingredient in a Daiquiri or gauge how heavily a 5:1 Martini will hit them compared to a pint of Miller Lite. This is the first book I've read that speaks to this audience, and it's been a decade since it might have applied directly to me, but I found it to be generally pretty admirable. Mr Morgenthatler is at his best when he's teaching either the basics of cocktails (importance of dilution, shaking versus stirring, etc.) or the essentials of safe and courteous drunkenness. The handful of recipes included are an eclectic bunch, ranging from an elevated agave-based eggnog down to an entirely unpretentious sherbet-and-Sprite punch (somewhere in the middle are a blender-made Ramos Gin Fizz and a mid-century Martini). His emphasis is on putting some care into selection and construction, and he's willing to forgo a lot of other lessons to keep the focus there. Mr Morgenthaler does a better job than I could of shedding erudite judgements that could be off-putting to a 7-and-7 crowd. Mr Morgenthaler also strikes a good middleground when it comes to drinking behavior. His general acceptance of drinking and drunkenness make his more specific prohibitions and admonishments easy to take seriously. His flat rejection of drinking and driving, his disapproval of shots and drinking games, and his strong endorsement of the Irish goodbye (all undoubtedly good advice) are imbued with a brotherly air rather than a parental one. He falls short in a few places (alcoholism and date-rape get addressed with lamentable indirectness), and some content is either terrible advice or difficult-to-discern humor: How is the reader supposed to take something like "If you're not drinking on a holiday, you're doing something wrong"? I can't tell. The intro to Chapter 1 notes that American youth aren't indoctrinated into responsible drinking in a family setting as their European counterparts are, and Mr Morgenthaler seems to be hoping that this book might fill that gap. Despite imperfections, the book's breadth and accessibility make it an promising tool to dispel mystery and impart general parameters for safe drinking. To that end, I think a parent could do far worse that leaving a copy of this around the house for the their 16-year-old to discover.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jayme Blaschke

    This isn't a big recipe tome. Instead, Morgentaler's put together an etiquette book on the hows, whys, wheres and whens of drinking. It's not a deep philosophical meditation, but his wry and irreverent commentary is a breezy read and outlines common (and not so common) sense guidelines to ensure the reader does not come off as a rube, or even worse, an arrogant snob when imbibing is concerned. This would be a great book for everyone to read on their 21st birthday, but there are nuggets of wisdom This isn't a big recipe tome. Instead, Morgentaler's put together an etiquette book on the hows, whys, wheres and whens of drinking. It's not a deep philosophical meditation, but his wry and irreverent commentary is a breezy read and outlines common (and not so common) sense guidelines to ensure the reader does not come off as a rube, or even worse, an arrogant snob when imbibing is concerned. This would be a great book for everyone to read on their 21st birthday, but there are nuggets of wisdom here that even seasoned barflies may benefit from.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Owen

    This is a fun, concise discussion of alcohol, drinking, mixing drinks and the etiquette involved. It's a really quick read. I mostly drink beer and wine but I found Morgenthaler's discussion of the history involved and how people drink interesting. It's well written too. This is a fun, concise discussion of alcohol, drinking, mixing drinks and the etiquette involved. It's a really quick read. I mostly drink beer and wine but I found Morgenthaler's discussion of the history involved and how people drink interesting. It's well written too.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Loved this book! Tons of entertaining and knowledgeable tidbits and just a couple of recipes. I just wish it was longer!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patressa Kearns

    This is a fantastic little book! "Drinking Distilled: A User's Manual" lives up to its title; Morgenthaler talks to the reader-- really talks, as if he's in the same room with you -- about the basics of alcohol, drinking, drinking etiquette, and how to be an all-around better, more deft imbiber. The book is divided into four parts: 1. General Instructions (lots of simple drinking etiquette here, although etiquette is sprinkled throughout the rest of the book as well); 2. What You're Drinking (a This is a fantastic little book! "Drinking Distilled: A User's Manual" lives up to its title; Morgenthaler talks to the reader-- really talks, as if he's in the same room with you -- about the basics of alcohol, drinking, drinking etiquette, and how to be an all-around better, more deft imbiber. The book is divided into four parts: 1. General Instructions (lots of simple drinking etiquette here, although etiquette is sprinkled throughout the rest of the book as well); 2. What You're Drinking (a clear, easy-to-understand explanation of where alcohol comes from); 3. When You're Drinking (breakfast drinking, brunch drinking, lunch drinking, dinner drinking, etc.); and 4. Where You're Drinking (including "Drinking at Home, Alone" and "Drinking in the Bathtub"). There are a few recipes (for classic cocktails, not-so-classic cocktails, batch cocktails), and even a few fun cocktail presentation ideas. Nothing about this book is over the top, and that's why I like it. Morgenthaler is snarky in an enjoyable way, and he helps you cut through the ever-increasing snobby bullshit about drinking booze. His aim seems to be to help more people become better drinkers -- more responsible, smoother, more knowledgeable, more appreciative. His goal seems to be to help us enjoy drinking more -- not to drink more, just to enjoy what we're drinking more, and more responsibly, than we did before we read this great little book. Morgenthaler's aim is true; he hits the bull's-eye with "Drinking Distilled."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bill Marsano

    By Bill Marsano. I approached this book filled with disgust, which is, I imagine, pretty much the way Jeff Morgenthaler wrote it. Struck with a case of “If I knew then what I know now” he decided to give us the benefit of his 20 years as a bartender/drinker. (Good thing, too, because what he “knew then” was the Mountain Dew paired well with gin, that limes were unripe lemons and tequila was made from cactus.) He’s serious about the word “distilled”: this is a brief, no-nonsense book of 176 pages By Bill Marsano. I approached this book filled with disgust, which is, I imagine, pretty much the way Jeff Morgenthaler wrote it. Struck with a case of “If I knew then what I know now” he decided to give us the benefit of his 20 years as a bartender/drinker. (Good thing, too, because what he “knew then” was the Mountain Dew paired well with gin, that limes were unripe lemons and tequila was made from cactus.) He’s serious about the word “distilled”: this is a brief, no-nonsense book of 176 pages, nicely written and full of useful information on drinking games, straws for cocktails, rosé for men, ice in whiskey, “bruising the gin” and much more that will be of value to anyone aspiring to civilized drinking. Seldom do you see so much good information for so little money. Buy it and read it cover to cover. Then turn it over and read it again. And you’ll be on your way. Bill Marsano, a James Beard award winner, is the former Wine and Spirits Editor of Hemispheres magazine.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rhea

    Morgenthaler has a great gift for writing about the bar industry with wit, charm, and a refreshing straightforward honesty. I love that this book is not another bar book aimed toward professionals. This is the bar book for people who don't read bar books, and for brand new drinkers, but it also manages to have a lot of information that I think some professional industry people may find very interesting. This book is a great way to look at a bar, with a knowledgeable eye, from a guest's perspecti Morgenthaler has a great gift for writing about the bar industry with wit, charm, and a refreshing straightforward honesty. I love that this book is not another bar book aimed toward professionals. This is the bar book for people who don't read bar books, and for brand new drinkers, but it also manages to have a lot of information that I think some professional industry people may find very interesting. This book is a great way to look at a bar, with a knowledgeable eye, from a guest's perspective. Sometimes bartenders forget what it's like to be lost in a bar, in a liquor store, or in a drink menu. This book is a great reminder of how we are working to find those people and guide them through.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    I really enjoyed this light primer on how to drink. It's not a bartender's guide to drink recipes, but it's like having a conversation with your coolest bartender on drinking with thought. There are suggestions on setting up your home bar, what "neat" is, not scrimping on ice plus advice on drinking approaches to individual holidays. Never preachy, and sometimes laugh out loud. Seems like it'd be a really great read for twenty-somethings, although I gleaned a bunch even in my middle age. Enjoy! I really enjoyed this light primer on how to drink. It's not a bartender's guide to drink recipes, but it's like having a conversation with your coolest bartender on drinking with thought. There are suggestions on setting up your home bar, what "neat" is, not scrimping on ice plus advice on drinking approaches to individual holidays. Never preachy, and sometimes laugh out loud. Seems like it'd be a really great read for twenty-somethings, although I gleaned a bunch even in my middle age. Enjoy!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    I borrowed this book from my boyfriend so I wasn't able to dogear and underline like I would've liked to. Definitely some cool tips, tricks, and recipes in here. I also learned some stuff: like did you know that brown liquor is just grain alcohol that has been aged in wooden barrels that have been charred creating wood sugars!! Anyway, the only kind of 'eh' thing about this book was that the author's voice was kind of pretentious. Still a nice, easy read for the casual cocktail enthusiast. I borrowed this book from my boyfriend so I wasn't able to dogear and underline like I would've liked to. Definitely some cool tips, tricks, and recipes in here. I also learned some stuff: like did you know that brown liquor is just grain alcohol that has been aged in wooden barrels that have been charred creating wood sugars!! Anyway, the only kind of 'eh' thing about this book was that the author's voice was kind of pretentious. Still a nice, easy read for the casual cocktail enthusiast.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Billy Abbott

    One to stick in the bathroom for 'short reads', with a load of great bits and pieces about drinking, albeit it entirely US focused. However, despite saying 'I'm not going to tell you technical stuff about drinks', he then does and gets it wrong. Two minutes with one of his many drinks geek mates would have sorted that. One to stick in the bathroom for 'short reads', with a load of great bits and pieces about drinking, albeit it entirely US focused. However, despite saying 'I'm not going to tell you technical stuff about drinks', he then does and gets it wrong. Two minutes with one of his many drinks geek mates would have sorted that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melita

    I read this in a single sitting: it’s chatty & entertaining and I also took a couple recipes away with me. An easy read if you want some alcohol/drinking basics. Much more focused on cocktails than beer or wine, which is what I wanted, since I am the least familiar with cocktails of the three.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jordan J. Andlovec

    No-nonsense, funny, and humanely informative. There is so much bad writing about drinking out there, do yourself a favor and pick up this and the Kingsley Amis' "Everyday Drinking" and you'll be set. No-nonsense, funny, and humanely informative. There is so much bad writing about drinking out there, do yourself a favor and pick up this and the Kingsley Amis' "Everyday Drinking" and you'll be set.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Less about making drinks and more about how to drink, when to drink, etc. including going to someone’s house to drink...bring a bottle and leave it there! It’s the cost of partying with friends. And no, you don’t get to bring it home with you after!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Who knew that we needed 160 pages of advice on drinking? And yet here it is, and it’s sage wisdom. If I could make all my friends read even chapter one, I would. The gist - when you grow up, class it up, but also you do you. Just don’t be an a-hole.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Castillo

    Short and funny. If you wanna be a bartender you gotta be a drinker first. You know to get your audience.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This is the best book about drinking etiquette I have ever read. When my son is old enough to drink, I am going to have him read this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Niki Ganong

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jean

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mike Ulrich

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jamie fernandes

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex Hogan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Chamberlain

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Lobov

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Craig

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brian Johnson

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