The Bar Book

Thirty-three Percent: The Untold Story

I just searched for a “recipes for Whiskey Sour” and got 562,000 results in a third of a second. Clearly there is no shortage of drink recipes online. Yet opinions are so divergent from each other… The funniest one I’ve heard was “How can it be a Whiskey Sour if you made it with Rum?!”

The Three Steps

The key to success in making a good cocktail is broken down into three parts. First you choose your recipe; you find the best one, which is most suitable to your purpose, and you make that your go-to recipe. Clearly with half a million results for one particular query on Google, you’re going to have to pick or create something that suits you personally.
The second part is your ingredients; they must mesh perfectly, with each other, to create the best effect. For ingredients you can control the liquors, naturally, but for the remaining fresh ingredients you’ll have to expend some effort to get precisely what you want.

The Missing Part

Both of those areas have been covered pretty thoroughly, but that’s only 2/3 of the solution. Clearly thirty-three percent has been missed, glossed over, or ignored, and that’s what is holding you back from being a great bartender. Worry no more; Jeffrey Morgenthaler has finally come to the rescue!

The well-known bartender and blogger has had a book out for a whole year now, and it is such a worthwhile read! If you are scratching your head, or pulling out your hair, trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong—why you can get so close but still not get it quite right, Jeffrey will fix you right up.

THE BAR BOOK: ELEMENTS OF COCKTAIL TECHNIQUE is available on Amazon in a nice durable hard cover, or as a Kindle book for superfast referencing. It is an absolute pleasure to read, particularly for the home bartender who wants to develop a professional edge. And by the same token it is essential for the professional who wants to increase their skill and expand their repertoire.

There are those who say that bartending is an art. Jeffrey Morgenthaler is of a different opinion. Art, he tells us, lies in the creation of an original, unique beverage. Skill, on the other hand, is the ability to do it consistently, reliably, exactly the same every time. And that’s something that can be learned.

This is the only book available that deals with technique. He is not only a real bartender, and a blogger, but he’s also a teacher at Clyde Commons where he manages the James Beard bar program.

He actually takes time to explain the history of citrus; how it was admired and treasured; how it served as beauty products, medicine, perfume, and even in religious ceremonies by earlier civilizations. How it never really caught on until British Sailors realized that it warded off scurvy. He complains that it is now so ubiquitous that it gets virtually no respect, and that people, particularly bartenders, just take what they can get, without bothering to seek out good quality product.

On the other side of the coin, modern bartenders are looking for exotic citrus fruits such as yuzu, kumquats and Buddha’s Hand to distinguish themselves from everybody else. And then they go and buy tawdry, unremarkable lemons at the local grocery store.

You’re doing it wrong!

lemon wronglemon right

I love this part! It seems completely natural and it’s precisely the wrong way to do it. There are ordinarily no holes in  the top part (the bowl that presses down). The holes are in the bottom part. The fruit is supposed to be placed with its cut-side down, which the top part then everts (turns it inside out) to get the most juice out of it. I couldn’t even find a correct image online until I went to a site that sells the device.  Don’t feel bad! I was doing it wrong for years, too! This one simple trick is worth the cost of the whole book! So much neater and tidier!

Full Value

He gives you 60 of his own recipes, tells you the best way to make a simple and compounds syrups, and even tells you how to make gomme syrup so that it isn’t all lumpy and horrible. The latter went out of fashion because it was so difficult to make; his revelation makes it simple.

It goes on and on in this fashion. It relates vital techniques from someone who is dedicated to the craft; who seeks the whys and wherefores and peculiarities of the business. He still marvels that at some point people began calling him an expert. He doesn’t take that lightly.

If you need to know something about the bartending business, he’s prepared with an answer. And while it would be delightful to talk to him in person and pick his brains for all the wonderful knowledge he possesses, for most of us that probably isn’t going to happen.

This book is the next best thing. Buy it; read it; learn it. You’ll be so many steps closer to being a master of your craft.


Want to take your first steps towards becoming a bartender?  Check out our online bartending school!