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Dale DeGroff is widely regarded as the world’s foremost mixologist. Hailed by the New York Times as “single-handedly responsible for what’s been called the cocktail renaissance,” he earned this reputation during his twelve years at the fashionable Promenade Bar in New York City’s Rainbow Room. It was there in 1987 that he not only reintroduced the cocktail menu to the country but also began mixing drinks from scratch, using impeccably fresh ingredients instead of the widespread mixes used at the time. Known especially for crafting unique cocktails, reviving classics, and coaxing superior flavor from his ingredients, DeGroff has selected his 100 essential drinks and 100 of their best variations—including many of his signature cocktails—for this premier mixology guide.

The Essential Cocktail features only those drinks that stand out for their flavor, interesting formula, or distinctive technique. These are the very ones every amateur and professional bartender must know, the martinis, sours, highballs, tropicals, punches, sweets, and classics, both old and new, that form the core of a connoisseur’s repertoire. Throughout the book are DeGroff’s personal twists, such as a tangy Grapefruit Julep or a refreshing Yuzu Gimlet.

To complement the tantalizing photographs of each essential cocktail, DeGroff also regales readers with the fascinating lore behind a drink’s genesis and instructs us on using the right ingredients, techniques, glasses, and garnishes. As Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the classic compendium for home chefs and gourmands, so The Essential Cocktail will be the go-to book for serious mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts.

From Publishers Weekly

Degroff ( The Craft of the Cocktail) likes to be referred to as the King of Cocktails, and it is hard to argue the point. During his stint as bartender at Manhattan''s Rainbow Room, he shunned packaged mixes and ushered in the use of fresh ingredients for classic drinks as well as potables of his own device. In this book, he offers 100 popular whistle-wetters and 100 variations thereof—martinis, sours, highballs and punches are all well represented. A Bloody Mary is never shaken, but rather rolled back and forth, while a Bloody Bull adds beef broth to the recipe and can stand up to a vigorous shake. There''s the lowly Long Island Iced Tea, mated with a variation called a Full Monte, which calls for Champagne instead of cola. And a basic Daiquiri (rum, simple syrup, lime juice) is out-boxed by Dale''s Hemingway Daiquiri, which adds Maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice to the mix. 150 full-color photos help sweeten the deal, and historical asides provide fine fodder for party chit-chat. The Tequila Sunrise, it turns out, was created south of the border during Prohibition and included fresh lemonade and French cassis. But when the drink traveled north, inexperienced bartenders dumbed it down to today''s mix of OJ and grenadine. Where was a cocktail king when we needed one? (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

DeGroff, who with David Wondrich and Eric Felten forms a triumvirate of indispensable drinks writers, can also claim a major role in the start of the still-flourishing cocktail revival. His inspired work behind the Promenade Bar at New York City’s Rainbow Room during the 1980s helped create a bulwark against the encroachment of wine coolers and lite beer, and demand for his services as a corporate consultant is a testament to the public’s continued thirst for high-test, high-taste concoctions. Far more focused than his 500-recipe Craft of the Cocktail (2002), The Essential Cocktail is a carefully selected, judiciously blended mix of recipes, instructions, and historical lore, garnished with well-seasoned advice on tactics, techniques, and tools. Oft-consumed classics and overlooked also-rans sit comfortably alongside DeGroff’s and others’ variations, and cutting-edge innovations like foam supplement rather than supplant tried-and-true preparations. DeGroff is a man to trust with the details both small (Angostura bitters or Peychaud’s?) and large (shaken or stirred?). If you’re not thirsty after consulting this volume, there’s no medicine for what ails you. --Keir Graff

Review

"Dale DeGroff is the Oracle, the Yoda, the Walking Buddha of mixology. Simply put: If you''re having an argument about how to make a particular cocktail? Whoever quotes DeGroff wins."
—Anthony Bourdain

“Dale DeGroff is the Grand Master Chef of cocktail making. I''ve been lucky enough to be his student–now everyone will know his secrets!”
—Bobby Flay

“I am a huge believer that no dining experience is complete without a perfectly mixed cocktail and who better to guide you in its preparation than the King of Cocktails himself. The Essential Cocktail has any drink you could ever want, and in Dale DeGroff’s capable hands, cocktail perfection is assured.”
—Ming Tsai

"Dale DeGroff is without a doubt the ultimate rock-star bartender. He''s fueled many of my parties around the world with his extraordinarily well-crafted and elegant cocktails. A true master."
—Colin Cowie

“The Essential Cocktail is a handbook for ladies and gentlemen interested in the honorable pursuit of all things delicious. For me that very often starts with a delightful and tasty cocktail crafted by the true master mixologist, Dale DeGroff. With this guide in hand, perfect drinks are no longer difficult alchemy, but easy sipping instead.”
—Mario Batali

About the Author

DALE DEGROFF (a.k.a. the King of Cocktails) is universally acknowledged as the world’s premier mixologist whose innovations have impacted globally the restaurant and beverage industry. DeGroff provides consulting and bar training to beverage companies, hotels, and leading restaurants throughout the world and has won numerous industry awards. The founder and president of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the first museum in the world dedicated to education in mixology and preserving the rich history of the American cocktail, DeGroff is also the author of The Craft of the Cocktail, winner of the IACP Julia Child Award.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
110 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Simply The BEST!!
Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2019
Dale DeGroff is the master and a sort of "original" in the craft cocktail re-emergence. Sure, cocktails were around before Dale, but few in history have put together a more instructive book. Good photos and historic comments make for a fun read and good insight on why a... See more
Dale DeGroff is the master and a sort of "original" in the craft cocktail re-emergence. Sure, cocktails were around before Dale, but few in history have put together a more instructive book. Good photos and historic comments make for a fun read and good insight on why a cocktail might be a good one for you. Though I have a dozen or so other cocktail books to which I refer, this is by far the one I "go-to" the most. If I had to have just one cocktail book, this is it. I have one of these in each of my houses. I have purchased and gifted this book several times to my cocktail/mixology friends. You can''t go wrong with this one. Cheers! Tony
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Chemist
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Book! Very interesting back stories, delicious results.
Reviewed in the United States on June 27, 2020
I ordered two cocktail books. This one is by far the better one. It lists great cocktails with simple to follow directions and fabulous backstories. I had no idea real grenadine was a pomegranate product! This is improving our knowledge and mixology skill set, plus helping... See more
I ordered two cocktail books. This one is by far the better one. It lists great cocktails with simple to follow directions and fabulous backstories. I had no idea real grenadine was a pomegranate product! This is improving our knowledge and mixology skill set, plus helping us endure the covid self isolation. We miss our favorite bars, but we are saving a bundle by making cocktails ourselves.
We are planning on buying copies of this for some of our friends.
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Craig Haynes
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Newbie to mixology, glad to find a mentor and guide...
Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2019
on my journey. So, my new adventure into mixed drinks started with this book. So rich in detail, anecdotes and history that you may need to restrain yourself from mixing TOO many delicious drinks and not remembering ANY of them! I ordered the Kindle version and this is very... See more
on my journey. So, my new adventure into mixed drinks started with this book. So rich in detail, anecdotes and history that you may need to restrain yourself from mixing TOO many delicious drinks and not remembering ANY of them! I ordered the Kindle version and this is very convenient at the bar, just pull-up the recipe and mix. The discussion of flavors, tools, spirit brands and products is both interesting and entertaining. Highly recommended.
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Artizahn
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
If you are beginning the trade or even if you ...
Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2015
If you are beginning the trade or even if you are a seasonal mixologist. DALE DeGRoFF is a name that a true Bartender should not only know, but recognize. If I were you, I would buy all of his books. They are worthy of the money. You earn not only a well rounded base for... See more
If you are beginning the trade or even if you are a seasonal mixologist. DALE DeGRoFF is a name that a true Bartender should not only know, but recognize. If I were you, I would buy all of his books. They are worthy of the money. You earn not only a well rounded base for knowledge. It leaves room for you to create your own based off the notion that you know your ingredients! well..
2 people found this helpful
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Bookmaven
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Delicious and Delightful
Reviewed in the United States on December 23, 2019
The Negroni and Margarita are 2 of my favorites, but the drinks and history are so fun and interesting, without being intimidating for a nocive. Lots of fun to share with friends or just reading and experimenting on your own.
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H. Rivers
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Just starting out on the mixology journey
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2009
I decided it was time to start finding some more things I''d like to drink other than the 3 things I order at every bar. So I checked a bunch of books on bar tending out of the library. This is by far my favorite so I bought a copy to keep. First, it has a lot of the classic... See more
I decided it was time to start finding some more things I''d like to drink other than the 3 things I order at every bar. So I checked a bunch of books on bar tending out of the library. This is by far my favorite so I bought a copy to keep. First, it has a lot of the classic drinks that you''d get at a bar and also lots of others and all the drinks I''ve made so far are really great. Second, the photos are super - I pick half the drinks just by their looks alone. Third, the stories with each drink just add another layer of fun. I didn''t expect to learn anything about the history of cocktails in America, but I have and it''s been really fun.
9 people found this helpful
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#StoutHouse
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A staple bar reference for any cocktail lover
Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2014
Great book! We''ve now made tons of the recipes in here. It is really easy to follow, easy to find something specific if you are looking to use a certain ingredient or in a certain mood. And I love the blurbs about drink histories and alternative options. A staple bar... See more
Great book! We''ve now made tons of the recipes in here. It is really easy to follow, easy to find something specific if you are looking to use a certain ingredient or in a certain mood. And I love the blurbs about drink histories and alternative options. A staple bar reference for any cocktail lover, beginner or experienced.
The book also offers really helpful resources for finding certain ingredients, tools, or barware online. I love that and have used it to hunt down certain things!
3 people found this helpful
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KLMTrpt
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Outstanding, educational, well reasoned & articulated
Reviewed in the United States on October 23, 2020
This book is all you need to make perfect drinks, every time. It also teaches you about the history of the drink and why the author has selected the particular recipe they have. Love it.
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Top reviews from other countries

Mr Triggs
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good but not great.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 20, 2015
This is a good solid repository of recipes, knowledge and stories but it falls a way short of being a great work. Fairly simplistic in its delivery and somewhat gaudy in presentation it smacks of a book very much aimed at American readers, which is fair enough as cocktails...See more
This is a good solid repository of recipes, knowledge and stories but it falls a way short of being a great work. Fairly simplistic in its delivery and somewhat gaudy in presentation it smacks of a book very much aimed at American readers, which is fair enough as cocktails are a very American thing. There''s no arguing with Mr. DeGroff''''s knowledge, experience and experience but I think he could have produced a much better book if he''d gone for a more stylish, European coffee table type tome. It''s also a bit smaller than I expected. All in all there is nothing wrong with this book just nothing exceptional.
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Christian Hodgson
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Essential? Maybe!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 9, 2012
Having worked in the industry and being an enthusiastic home cocktail afficinado I am always looking to enhance my knowledge of cocktails. This book gives great insight into the history of the major players in the classic cocktail reportoire. Crafted by a true legend in the...See more
Having worked in the industry and being an enthusiastic home cocktail afficinado I am always looking to enhance my knowledge of cocktails. This book gives great insight into the history of the major players in the classic cocktail reportoire. Crafted by a true legend in the industry, Dale de Groff gives you an exemplary lesson in the art of mixing drinks. Plus his own variations are a lovely addition and show how far cocktail recipes have, and can, go. This book will take pride of place in my library along side older and more modern tomes. I cant recommend it enough. So if your just looking to learn recipes then no this isnt essential reading, I would recommend Diffords guide for that, but for history, humour and a great deal of knowledge this book surpasses most.
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Olha
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
perfect
Reviewed in Spain on June 8, 2019
This is the best book of cocktails you can ever think of. You see what’s inside every cocktail and the history behind it.
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Canadian Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on August 25, 2016
Great
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