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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Book Review: Art of the Bar

There are dozens of cocktail recipe books on the market and just about any good bartender has probably given thought to finding a publisher and developing their own collection. Bartenders Jeff Hollinger and Bob Schwartz of San Francisco's Absinthe Brasserie & Bar did not just think about it, they created one of the more beautiful and interesting cocktail books to hit bookstore shelves in recent years.

The Art of the Bar: Cockatils Inspired by the Classics features the lavish photography of Frankie Frankeny to go along with classic and soon-to-be classic recipes, bar history and helpful hints on everything from glassware to garnishing drinks. A great theme throughout the book is how to use fresh ingredients and craft bases from fresh juices and syrups to make excitingly crisp cocktails.

The 143-page book from Chronicle Books has a list price of $24.95. It's worth that price just for the beauty of the photography. But The Art of the Bar goes beyond that by encouraging us all to make artistic concoctions such as the Paddle Boat and the Agave Rose. You may even find yourself gathering the ingredients to make a French 75, Sazerac or Opera after seeing them detailed in this book.

The Art of the Bar is not the most comprehensive volume of cocktails ever published. It was not meant to be. It is designed to inspire bartenders -- both professional and amateur -- the make something more than just a drink the next time they go behind the bar.

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