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Book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Augustus Embury (1948-06-23)


The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks by David Augustus Embury (1948-06-23)

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    David Augustus Embury(Author)

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Review Text

  • By The Curmudgeon on December 5, 2013

    Embury gives us a unique and wide perspective on cocktails, which are America's main contribution to the world of alcohol. He was making them before, during, and after Prohibition (1920-1933). The first edition came out in 1948 and he was still updating through the final edition in 1958.He operates from that era (after 1933) when "stiff" drinks were popular, meaning high in alcohol. Embury dismisses the pre-Prohibition era back to the 1800s when many cocktails had less liquor and more mixer with a lot of extra flavoring. He would be horrified by today's large portions of sweet and creamy drinks. Of course he lived in an era when he and most people were slimmer than today.His favorite liquor is gin which mixes well with almost everything and gives you a quick kick. The same is generally true for rum. Embury likes whiskey, especially bourbon, but it does not mix with everything and takes longer to have an effect. He would be surprised by today's popularity of scotch. He would be even more surprised by today's popularity of vodka. That "tasteless" liquor was just beginning to become popular when he wrote this book and he credits its growing popularity on clever advertising. He considered the "new" drink the Bloody Mary to be vile.He lists six cocktails that every connoisseur should know but only three of those drinks are still popular: Martini, Manhattan, and Daiquiri. Embury is basically a walking encyclopedia of cocktails and provides a lot of information. He got his information from first-hand knowledge and would never be fooled by clever marketing. Some of the information is dated but the book is quite informative.Interesting facts include the one that sugar intensifies the effect of alcohol which is why too many sweet cocktails will make you sick. Fruit juices begin to slowly deteriorate through fermentation as soon as they are squeezed so he always used fresh juice. He was horrified by canned fruit juice.Embury was around when tequila was a new liquor brought in during prohibition. At that time it was an inferior liquor with a strong sulfuric taste. The tradition of drinking it with salt and limes was to overcome the bad taste. Since then the distillers have learned how to eliminate most of the sulfuric taste but the tradition continues with the popular Margarita.It could be said that he was the Anthony Bourdain of his era, but without the proletarian and celebrity elements. The 2013 edition has very few typos. I noticed less than ten.

  • By K. Whisler on December 28, 2008

    The overall content of this book is excellent and is beautifully written. Even though one might not agree with the author on every point it is a very enjoyable read. Rather than just write a cocktail recipe book, Embury lays out his theories on the underlying principles of mixing a good drink and divides them into general categories. It is somewhat similar Gary Regan's excellent "Joy of Mixology" in that sense, but is in some ways more readable and is written from the standpoint of a passionate and gifted amateur rather than of a professional bartender, and I think more encouraging of personal experimentation. I already had Regan's book in my collection when I acquired this one, but I don't feel that one is a replacement for the other.The book is also fun for the historical perspective it offers. Not only are Embury's observations on Prohibition interesting (he lived through it) some of his recommendations on how to do things are informative in comparison to how they are done today. For example, he suggests getting large cocktail glasses--"no less than 3 ounces"! A typical cocktail glass today is over twice that size, though some cocktail enthusiasts now recommend using smaller glasses for classic styles of cocktails.As good as this book is, shame on the publisher of this edition for allowing it to go to press with so many typos! Some reviewers charitably suggest that the typos also appeared in the earlier editions. I doubt this; they are the sort of typos one gets from OCR and relying on a word processor to clean up the OCR output, and then not doing a final page proof before going to press. (E.g. missing punctuation, "sued" for "used," page references to page XXX.) But even if they were in earlier editions, this is not a facsimile reprint and the errors should have been corrected in this edition. Fortunately, none of the typos are of the sort that prevents the reader from understanding what the author is trying to impart. If the publisher does a second printing of this edition, I hope that the typos will be corrected.

  • By MuKen on January 10, 2014

    Okay, before I talk about the book I'll fess up that my grandfather wrote it (minus all the typos, of course; those were evidently added for the reprint). That said, it's still one of the most definitive and informative books on the market. No, you won't likely find the brands of Cuban rum and Russian vodka he recommends, and there aren't any recipes for drinks that came into vogue after 1947: But Grand-dad was a perfectionist, and if you want a guide to the basics of how drinks are put together, I don't think you'll find anything better ~ and, besides, there are plenty of good Mojito recipes on the internet.I'm very pleased this has been reprinted, as copies of the original are hard to find, and very expensive.

  • By M. Arnao on December 3, 2008

    It appears that the editor of the 2008 edition may have been sampling the recipes while on the job. I was shocked by the number of typos, which can make reading the book a rather frustrating endeavor. In some cases, words are replaced by similar-sounding words, and one must backtrack to make sense of things.(I don't know exactly how books are published these days, but I assume that a computer is involved and that it should be a simple exercise for a competent proofreader to make corrections using some form of text editor prior to publication. Of course, it is entirely possible that these errors were present in previous editions, but there is no reason why they shouldn't be corrected.)Nonetheless, we should be grateful that this classic is now available as an affordable and otherwise finely executed reprint.

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