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A Proper Drink: The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  28 reviews
A narrative history of the craft cocktail renaissance, written by a New York Times cocktail writer....
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Ten Speed Press
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Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
"It was a hard thing to own such a hated drink. So for many years Cecchini shirked his connection to it, developing the kind of cranky attitude toward his early work that Orson Welles had for Citizen Kane late in his career. That changed, though, as bartenders' feelings toward the cocktail began to relax, and as the number of credit hogs rose."

- Robert Simonson, A Proper Drink

The Cosmo is actually a decent drink, albeit nothing complex or particularly challenging. I typically defer to Dale
Erin Cataldi
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it
An intriguing look at how a band of bartenders revived the cocktail movement and saved the civilized drinking world in the process. Robert Simonson painstakingly pieces together the top bartenders from around the world and tells how a drink here and a vintage cocktail book there helped bring about a cocktail revival that most of us take for granted. Without the ingenuity and determination of some bartenders to re-make some classic cocktails found in dusty old manuals and the willpower to track ...more
Gerri Leen
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
It would be more accurate to say that I skimmed this vice actually read it. I was in wholeheartedly until about halfway through the book, when I became utterly fatigued by the Mickey Mouse rollcall of bartenders. It was simply too many people to try to keep track of, and since they kept reappearing here and there, you couldn't just read and flush your mental cache after each chapter. It also got a bit repetitive from chapter to chapter, which began to wear on me. That said I think the book ...more
roxi Net
Jun 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: roxiown, roxicook
The fact that this book started off in one of my favorite places to visit (New Orleans) immediately hit me right! The author seems to travel the same way I do - around food and drink at restaurants I want to try. The stories contained (with a few recipes) really made me appreciate drinks and bartenders a lot more given the history that goes behind both; it also helps that I'm studying for my 'tending certificate!
Anne Frisbie
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cocktails
This is not a book of cocktail recipes, though the dozen or so included are all great choices.

This book brings to life the characters that started the modern cocktail revival. Robert Simonson interviewed the key figures of the revival - namely bartenders, and bartenders turned bar owners. The book is a free flowing narrative based on those interviews. The cocktail revolution is fascinating, in part, because it is recent, modern history. The stories that make up this book run from the late 1980s
Southern Today Gone Tomorrow
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Proper Drink, by Robert Simonson, is a journey through the development of the modern cocktail. Through alcoholic literature, there are more books recommended than I thought would be mentioned in this book that is a discussion of alcohol, and personal anecdotes, Simonson walks the reader through every stage of this development.

An excellent start to an alcohol book collection, this does leave a bit of a pretentious aftertaste in the readers mouth. While those personal anecdotes add to a story,
I received this book nearly two months ago, but just was able to finish it. This was not because I was busy, or didn't like the book, but more because javaczuk, my ex-bartender husband, who lived in NYC for a bit, and who still holds a fascination for the art of spirits tucked it away to read. (To be fair, I knew he would, and as I had other books to occupy me, and a good bit of art as well, I was fine. My only qualm was that it delayed my thoughts on the book for Blogging for Books, and the ...more
Aaron Arnold
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Craft cocktails have absolutely exploded in my lifetime, if you (quite reasonably, in my mind) define "lifetime" as "my life once I turned drinking age". If it seems like liquor drinks have gotten way more complicated than a simple gin and tonic since the turn of the millennium, it's because they have: the dramatic surge in the quality, variety, complexity, and popularity of craft cocktails is a very recent phenomenon with a surprisingly international backstory. Simonson reaches all over the ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've read and used Simonson's book on the martini, as well as his Three Ingredient Cocktails. On the strength of those, I decided to read this one.
Here is the thing. It's interesting, but I got bored about halfway through. What did it was the intermingling of the various names to the point where there were so many I couldn't keep them straight. The book could have used some serious editing in terms of considering whether this was just a fetteschrifft to a cast of thousands of bartenders, or an
Forest Collins
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drinks
Proper Drink is a thorough summary of how the current cocktail resurgence began and the course it took in the ensuing decades, mainly in the US and the UK. Those who have been involved in the scene for some time will be familiar with the names, drinks and places and appreciate how the book pulled all this information into a concise chronology.

I've followed Simonson's writing for sometime as well as read his other drinks-related books. He's clearly a journalist with not just a passing interest
Nigel Ewan
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A relatively lengthy account of the contemporary cocktail renaissance. The point of the whole book is: twenty years ago, nobody drank classic cocktails; now it is a huge international thing. This book's existence itself is evidence of that. I really can't believe I read the whole thingnot because it was boring, but it is quite long and full of detailed descriptions of bartenders and bars. The crazy thing is, these bars are iconic to meand almost all the bartenders are celebrities in my mindso I ...more
Alison Weaver
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Recommended to anyone interested in cocktails. A brilliant well written account of the rise of the cocktail that we have been lucky enough to have. Having recently really gotten into making cocktails at home and accruing quite a spirit collection, it was great to read such a comprehensive story of how cocktails have been revived.

It was good to read about familiar names and now ones. I'm a subscriber to cocktail lovers magazine which mentions the bars and people in this book so it was
Yasin S.
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-as-ebook
This is an amazing book about the second coctail renaissance. A must read for every bartender and drink enthusiast.
Idealist vision of a generation of genius bartenders have created todays elite drinking world. Thanks to them each day we have better and tastier drinks than before. By this book you will learn how it became possible and how difficult it was to teach people properly. And as a bartender I am proud to take a part in this cocktail renaissance history.
Michael Baum
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

The book was full of great information. I wish that it had a more chronological approach overall but it was a great read nonetheless. The addition of some visuals wouldve also been a nice touch; which bartenders started where and where they went who they influenced and where they continued on to. Something like that wouldve been interesting to see.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Despite the tendency to become list like in calling out bartenders and bars, this book does a better job than anything else I've read in pulling all of the pieces together. Especially the pre-Rainbow Room pieces which never seem to be discussed.
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a cocktail enthusiast, this book was delightful. The details of how the industry emerged from a place where most of it's history and rigor had been forgotten to the era we are in today, it provides a great look at where we were and the path to where we are
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting history of the modern cocktail movement.
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
A lively tour of the cocktail renaissance, with the added bonus of some terrific recipes. I see Paper Planes and Barrel-Aged Negronis in my (very near) future.
Heather Tucker
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great history and drink recipes in this. A must read for classic/craft cocktail enthusiasts.
Paul Bradley
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-and-drink
Remarkable and well researched. Highly recommended for anyone in the industry.
Bill Marsano
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review is based on a pre-publication version of the book. By Bill Marsano. In these the high days of Americas Cocktail Culture, it is reasonable to ask the question How all of a sudden did our drinks and drinking spots become so good? Well sudden isnt the word; its more the case of an overnight success that was 20 years in the making. An equally good question is How did American drinking become so awful? I can answer the second question. First, National Prohibition largely destroyed ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Title: A Proper Drink

Author: Robert Simonson

Genre: Nonfiction, Alcohol, History,

Plot: The rise of popular cocktails and mixed drinks owes a great debt to the hardworking bartenders of the '80s and '90s who helped to reintroduce the general public to such wonderful concoctions as the Aviation, Boulevardier and Hanky Panky {popular in the roaring Twenties before Prohibition}, as well as chronically the invention of delicious new drinks such as the Espresso Martini and the Cosmopolitan.

The Irregular Reader
Ever give any thought as to why youre starting to see variations of Moscow Mules everywhere? Why craft distilleries are taking off across the country? Why suddenly your local bar has started carrying more than Pepe Lopez and Burnetts Vodka in their well?

Well wonder no more! Simonson, a writer for the New York Times, has put together a detail-rich history of the craft cocktail movement over the last two decades. The renaissance we are currently experiencing is largely due to the efforts of a
Martin Doudoroff
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
How we got here. Robert Simonson has done the hospitality industry an immeasurable service by researching and writing this history. This book should be required reading for anyone working behind a bar. No doubt, not everyone discussed within is satisfied with how theyre depicted, but how could it be otherwise? The scope the book covers is already quite vast. Theres plenty of room for other articles, or even books, to delve deeper into specific sub-topics, but A Proper Drink provides the ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Well this book was not what I was expecting. It is a very detailed stories about how certain drinks came about and why they are popular. Many chapters include recipes (which is what I really wanted) and that adds a lot to this book. So for those that are looking into detailed accounts on how bartenders created drinks, this is the book for you!

Three stars.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for free. All opinions are my own."

Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it
More of a 3.5 - but mmm, cocktails!
Lory Masters
rated it it was amazing
Oct 17, 2018
Jessica Sharpe
rated it really liked it
Aug 13, 2017
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