A narrative history of the craft cocktail renaissance, written by a New York Times cocktail writer and one of the foremost experts on the subject.
A Proper Drink is the first-ever book to tell the full, unflinching story of the contemporary craft cocktail revival. Award-winning writer Robert Simonson interviewed more than 200 key players from around the world, and the result is a rollicking (if slightly tipsy) story of the characters—bars, bartenders, patrons, and visionaries—who in the last 25 years have changed the course of modern drink-making. The book also features a curated list of about 40 cocktails—25 modern classics, plus an additional 15 to 20 rediscovered classics and classic contenders—to emerge from the movement.
Simonson's knowledge of and appreciation for craft cocktails was nil when he sampled his first sazerac in 2006 while visiting New Orleans to attend Tales of the Cocktail, a libation-focused conference that went on to become an iconic event. Realizing that he was at the epicenter of what would become a global movement, Simonson set out to document the bartenders, bars, and drinks that have forever altered the world of cocktails, and he shares their stories here, along with key recipes. He illustrates just how far cocktail culture has come since the stasis of the 1980s, when TGI Friday's, of all establishments, invigorated the industry, offering extensive cocktail training and the best pay for bartenders. New initiates became obsessed with authenticity, scouring bookstores for vintage cocktail recipes while jumpstarting the bitters and artisan liqueur industries on which new cocktails rely so heavily. From there, Simonson's story splinters as he highlights innovative bars such as Milk & Honey, Pegu Club, and Smuggler's Cove as well as the bartenders and their signature cocktails. Simonson does an admirable job of getting his arms around an ever-morphing subject, showing how a single bar or bartender can have a butterfly effect in an industry that's constantly evolving. No matter which side of the bar readers are on, they're sure to work up a powerful thirst.