Sub Category: Cocktail Books
Brad Thomas Parsons
Published: December 2011
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The cover proclaims "secret recipes and barroom tales from two Belfast boys who conquered the cocktail world". The two Belfast boys in question are Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry and they did just that.
'Barroom tales' refers to the story which unfolds in the introduction of how Sean Muldoon went from occasional building site labourer, French Foreign Legion enrollee and failed musician to being the visionary behind the legendary bar at the Merchant Hotel, meeting Jack McGarry, perhaps the only other bartender as driven as himself, and the duo's creation of The Dead Rabbit - their second World's Best Cocktail Bar.
From Belfast's troubles to Manhattan's rewards, Sean and Jack's story is told by Ben Schaffer and is as much an account of the development of cocktail culture in Belfast and London as it is the story of their the souring careers.
Beyond the introduction the book turns more 'Drinks Manual' with cocktail recipes grouped under headings such as 'Sours and Fizzes', 'Cups and Cobblers' and 'Juleps and Smashes'. Each recipe has vintage origins, or at least is inspired by a classic cocktail, with the background or origin of each relayed over several paragraphs or even a page. Despite their origins, the formulations are very much Sean and Jack originals - they are simply too complex to be anybody else's. Almost all call for one of two of the 50 different homemade tinctures, syrups and infusions outlined in the book, on top of as many as six other commercially available ingredients.
For many of us this book will kindle memories from past decades while for others Sean and Jack's story will be inspirational. I look forward to working my way through their hallowed cocktail recipes along with the accompanying tinctures, syrups and infusions. These are the drinks from the World's Best Cocktail Bar (Tales 2015) but their complexity and the diversity of ingredients mean this is a book for bar professionals and very keen amateurs rather than cocktail novices.
152mm x 27mm x 229mm