The Bartender's Best Friend
The bartender's job can be a tough one. There you are, stuck within the fishbowl behind the counter, with countless customers requesting virtually any drink they can imagine. Your job is to quickly and effortlessly respond with a drink that tastes just the same as the last time they might have had this. An impossible sounding task, which you have to accomplish every day. Clearly you need some help.
Every bartender has one or more books that they like to keep at their fingertips for quick and easy reference for looking up recipes of some of the unusual, or obscure, requests that might come across their counter. But mixology is not a static art form, and our compatriots across the nation are constantly exposing their customers to new and delectable additions for our repertoire. To keep on top of this ever expanding list of recipes which the customer will expect us to know, it is important to periodically update our library and the reference material we use.
A recent addition to my library is the book The Bartender's Best Friend, by Mardee Haidin Regan. Mardee, and her husband Gary, are well known authors amongst bartenders and spirit aficionados. Their previous volume of cocktail recipes was the constantly popular Bartenders Bible; this new book represents not only an updated list of drinks, but an updated format as well.
From its waterproof and wipe-dry cover, to its bold and easy to read print, and its bound-in bookmarker ribbon, it is clear that this book is intended for use by the busy bartender in almost any situation. It of course has to include the obligatory sections on bartending basics, and how to set up a home bar, but the real intent of this book is clearly in giving you a well organized collection of recipes. The recipes are all listed alphabetically, with a prominently positioned "first letter" on each page which makes it extremely easy to quickly riffle through the pages in order to find any of the recipes it contains.
Instead of simply providing a comprehensive but dry and featureless listing of recipes, Mardee accents her collection with some interesting, and often witty commentary that can help you better understand the drink, or perhaps impress your customers with some background information that they might not otherwise know. For instance, you can tell your customer who just ordered an "Oreo Cookie", that the cookie itself first debuted in 1912, and while nobody remembers anymore where the name came from, one of the theories is that it comes from the Greek word for mountain, since the original form of this cookie was hill shaped.
Since part of your daily challenge, is just keeping up with some of the newer cocktails that are gradually making their way into the minds of your customers, The Bartenders Best Friend not only includes many of these trendy libations, but Mardee also spent considerable time consulting with some of the cutting edge bartenders across the country, and includes their latest creations so you can stay one step ahead of everybody else. Just a few of upcoming drinks include the "Añejo Highball", by Dale Degroff; Bistro Sidecar, by Kathy Casey; "Cherry Kiss Martini", by Jim Hewes; "Full Monte" by Audrey Saunders; "Marin-i-tini" by Manne Hinojosa; and the "Pierce Brosnan" by Salvatore Calabrese.
Not only is The Bartender's Best Friend a comprehensive and well balanced collection of old and new cocktails, it is also clear that there was a lot of attention paid to presenting the recipe that represented the best and most authentic variation possible. As a cocktail recipe reference, this book is clearly a welcome addition to anybodies library.
To learn more about what Mardee Regan, and her husband Gary are up to these days, you can stop by their website at http://www.ArdentSpirits.com