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Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar
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Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar

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4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  832 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
GREAT READ ON MIXOLOGY HISTORY
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published November 6th 2007 by TarcherPerigee (first published 2007)
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Helmut
Nov 23, 2015 Helmut rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cocktails
Der verrückte Professor
Es gibt Koryphäen, die ihr Fachgebiet geprägt haben. Ihre Namen sind mit dem Gebiet auf ewig verbunden, teilweise bis zur Synonymität. Jerry Thomas ist eine dieser Koryphäen – wer sich auch nur ansatzweise mit der Wissenschaft der Mixologie auseinandersetzt, trifft ziemlich schnell auf seinen Namen. Er ist der Roger Federer der Mixkunst, der Pelé der Mischgetränke, der Muhammad Ali des Cocktails. Was machte ihn so besonders? Er war einer der ersten Bartender, die das Poten
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Kevin
Sep 11, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing
On April 3rd, 2009 I had my first ever real cocktail. Sure I'd had mixed drinks before, on the level of "Jack and Coke" or "vodka and orange juice" but on that fateful day almost three and a half years ago I sat down at the bar at the just-barely-opened Cure in New Orleans and ordered a Sazerac. I had no idea what I was asking for other than that there was a decent bit of whiskey and a hint of absinthe involved. I won't say that the skies opened up and golden light poured down because that would ...more
Sean
Oct 14, 2016 Sean rated it it was amazing
This book is a fascinating read about the first "celebrity bartender" Jerry Thomas and a hands-on approach to early cocktail culture. More than just a historical depiction, it tells the story of Thomas through Thomas' own drink recipes and the history behind each. It's part salute to the cocktail and part bartenders bible. Would recommend a permanent place behind every bar for reference and cocktail list idea generator. Reading a chapter on Martinis influenced the Aviation Blonde Martini at Elev ...more
Michael Batz
May 19, 2015 Michael Batz rated it really liked it
I give the content 5 stars -- it really is a wonderful historical compendium that can be relied on to try out some classic and long lost drink recipes -- but do not care much for Wondrich's writing style, which is very dense and affected. Filigreed sentences in top hats and tails may be appropriate given the topic and time period, but I find myself zoning out. I wonder if I'll ever finish it.
Felisa Rosa
Dec 13, 2012 Felisa Rosa rated it it was amazing
As far as history goes, nothing is as murky as the history of specific types of foods and beverages. Consider, for example, the chili cheese dog or the margarita. Most mixed drinks have about eighteen different people who claim to have invented them. Bullshit origin stories abound on the web, and some of these tall tales are printed with gravitas in actual reference books. I guess it makes sense. I mean who wouldn't want to lay claim on inventing the margarita?

Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to
...more
Matt
Sep 10, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, culinary
9-4-13. I haven't finished but this is clearly a 5-star read: I love the history, the subject, the style of language: densely authoritative, with a lovely wit that doesn't distract from the details. I find it fascinating that our obsession for information in this age, at least as far as recipes and technique, was disregarded in theirs, in favor of imbibing rather than documenting. Perhaps you could say it was the age of living in the moment, being present and all that, but it's alcohol, so . . . ...more
Spat
Nov 11, 2012 Spat rated it really liked it
I recently relocated from Pittsburgh, Pa to Leeds. Pittsburgh, during my final years there, had finally caught on to the craft cocktail craze, and I was pleasured to be a customer of some of the finest mixologists the nation had to offer. Once here, I found myself missing their delectable creations and needed to resort to shaking my own (or stirring depending on the ingredients).
This book, recommended to me by one miss Maggie Meskey (of Salt of the Earth fame). is terrific. Not only is it full o
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Greg Pettit
Aug 04, 2010 Greg Pettit rated it really liked it
Although this was an interesting history of bartending and specific drinks, I put it down because I was losing interest. I don't fault the book for that, just that my desire to read it waned as I went on.

The author has done considerable research, and the book is equal parts history and recipes. Perhaps it would work better as a bar companion book, where you could learn how to make a drink while also learning some historical anecdotes about it. I enjoyed that there were notes for every drink abou
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Vi
Jun 29, 2011 Vi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mixology
David Wondrich regales us with tales of the Professor Jerry Thomas and describes the tales and the tricks of mixology. This fascinating telling details the history of the United States and the development of this culture as uniquely from the United States. The best drinks and mixologist came from the States during the turn of the century until prohibition.

Unfortunately, my library only has one copy of this book and I waited a few months for the copy to arrive. Once here, I enjoyed the details a
...more
John Doyle
Apr 04, 2014 John Doyle rated it liked it
"Imbibe" is part cultural history and part cocktail recipe reference book. I was expecting the former so the latter was distracting for me. It was interesting to learn that "old fashioned" was coined in the late 19th century to refer to cocktails made without citrus, which was first added after 1870. And who knew that Scotch became fashionable in the early 20th century when golf crossed the Atlantic from Scotland and players became enamored with all things Scottish? Apparently nostalgia and fads ...more
Zachary Olsen
Jun 22, 2016 Zachary Olsen rated it it was amazing
This book is astoundingly, and thoroughly well-researched - that's coming from a person reading it in 2016, well into the craft cocktail craze. And Wondrich is largely responsible for that - when this book first came out, many of the ingredients used in these classic cocktails were unavailable, or at least only in obscure estate sales and god knows where. Today, this book can be considered a primer to classic cocktails, but when it first came out, it must have been revolutionary. Cheers to David ...more
Brendan
Sep 02, 2011 Brendan rated it really liked it
An amazingly well-researched book if you're into making cocktails. I can't get over how thorough, well-done, and practical this book is. Last night I celebrated finishing by mixing up their Manhattan recipe from 1890 and i'm pretty sure its the best one I've ever had. If you're not into cocktails you'd probably be bored to tears by this book, but if you're an aspiring "mixologist" then this is a must-have, extraordinary read. Well-written, witty, and educational, I can't say enough good things a ...more
Bethany
May 08, 2011 Bethany rated it liked it
I wanna try these recipes in the style of "Julie & Julia." Except I won't have a liver if I have a tasting every night, so weekly will have to do. Sounds like a way to start my summer! Oh- my favorite parts? Learning the mysterious origins of a favorite drink- the Manhattan and hearing what the author did with fellow friends at the Professor's grave. The witty and snarky remarks made this a fun read.
Bill
Apr 10, 2011 Bill rated it liked it
This book is much more of a historical record or reference book than a book to sit down and read cover-to-cover. Full of great information and interesting historical tidbits, it is a page turner for the aspiring mixologist, but for the casual tippler like myself, I just can't stay glued to a book that spends pages speculating on London Dry vs. Holland gins. Still, having said that, I do kind of look forward to trying my hand at a few of these recipes in the future.
Darius
Sep 12, 2011 Darius rated it really liked it
Read the convoluted truth behind the 'classic' mixed-drinks-BS so many bar menus spout now, and try the recipes yourself. You can't lose. Wondrich is as interested in the US's foggy past as he is about drinking. He's also the only kind of perfectionist you can be behind the bar-- intent and informed.
Evan
Jun 15, 2011 Evan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, owned
Excellently detailed and a wonderful book. Wondrich is the best writer stylistically writing about cocktails these days, and his books are also the most detailed historically. (I wish I had his patience; on a recent attempt to research the Last Word's history, I gave up rather quickly.) I can't wait for his next book.
Anne
Feb 09, 2010 Anne rated it really liked it
I read this book for a book club at a local wine shop and enjoyed learning so much about pre-Prohibition era cocktails. It makes a great reference for recipes and with so many spirits available now, it's getting easier to re-create the historical recipes. At the book club, we tried 5 of the recipes and I now need to go stock my bar in order to make the Saratoga!
Theodore
Oct 22, 2012 Theodore rated it really liked it
This is the gold standard in the field of cocktail history. On one hand, it's a modern translation of Jerry Thomas' 1862 bon vivant's companion. On the other hand, it's a well-researched history of the cocktail movement pre-prohibition. Not meant to be read as an introductory text..read something by Dale DeGroff or Gary Regan first.
laurel
A great examination of historical drink recipes and lots of helpful tips and suggestions on which brands to use. Being a novice to drinking, I did find some of the discussion hard to follow without knowing the different kinds of liquors, but still a good book overall. Some of the recipes call for a multitude of ingredients, and being broke I can only afford a few items at a time.
Leah W
Jan 07, 2009 Leah W rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: charming social drinkers
Recommended to Leah by: Susan
This is a fun little run-through of cocktail history (and prehistory), with dozens of recipes thrown in amongst the stories and speculation. It's a fun, easy read, well worth it for any cocktail enthusiast; it makes me thirst powerfully for some strong libations... except when it makes me woozy just to read it.
{dvc}
Jul 22, 2009 {dvc} rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-w
You can't call even the best recipe books really 'readable' but Wondrich has done it here. Part history of the cocktail, part recipe collection of those historic cocktails, this books is indispensable for anyone wanting to learn the foundations of cocktail creation, both from a mixological and socialogical point of view.
Murf Reeves
Aug 20, 2008 Murf Reeves rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with a passing interest in the cocktail
Recommended to Murf by: Dale Degroff's website.
I am a lover of the cocktail especially the history and its relation to the development of america, and Imbibe tells a real good history by including the creation stories, rumors and heresays that go along with the life in a bar. Imbibe also shows the family tree of various cocktails and includes a lot of the original recipes as well as contemporary counterparts we partake of today.
Cam
Mar 26, 2012 Cam rated it really liked it
A thirsty nerd with a PhD in comparative lit writes this comprehensive history of the American Cocktail and pretty much knocks it out of the park. I've tried several recipes from this book and almost all of them are fantastic. It's also just a great historical read.
Jeremy
Aug 10, 2016 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Enjoyable biography of both Jerry Thomas and the history of drink mixing in America. Knocked one star off just because Wondrich's writing style can grate at times. He tries a little too hard to emulate the hard-boiled speech of the late 19th/early 20th centuries.
Scott


Lots of fun for the historical perspective on cocktails, but they do start to blur together...how many combinations of rum (or whiskey), juice and syrup can we discuss in the next 100 pages. Still fun to get to the root of what we rare drinking today.
Rachel
Dec 05, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it


As read as its gonna get. Not a huge fan of the writing style, felt like I had to work hard to get the information I really wanted. But beautifully researched and really interesting. A necessity for bartenders like myself.
Aaron
Apr 10, 2011 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Imbibe! is a great read on how the cocktail came to be. It's factual, funny, and filled with fizzes. It's a book you can drink with your eyes, preferably while drinking a cocktail with your mouth.
Steve Hansen
Apr 13, 2012 Steve Hansen rated it it was amazing
I love the way David Wondrich thinks and writes. His endless curiosity inspires me...and makes me thirsty.
Ann
Jun 14, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it
A fun book that makes me wish I had a bar of my own. An interesting perspective on a bit of history that's usually ignored.
Clint Spotleson
Sep 08, 2012 Clint Spotleson rated it it was amazing
This is by far one of the most important reads if you are trying to immerse yourself in cocktail culture. I personally make each and every newcomer I know read this right out of the gate.
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89649
Born on the banks of the Monongahela. Raised in major urban centers. Ex-bass player, ex-English professor, ex-ragtime writer. Mixographer. Brooklynite. Likes port and Stilton and Artemus Ward.
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