As you stated in your recent post, we can’t possibly be expected to know the full gamut of odd-named and (sometimes) purely awful drinks that tend to get ordered every once and a while. I was wondering, is there one comprehensive (preferably small and inconspicuous-looking) cocktail book that covers a large percentage of these drinks? I just want to know what you would recommend if I wanted to have one book behind the bar for these situations (I know you recommend Harrington’s book, but I simply can’t afford to drop $100 – I’m in the struggling college student bartending camp at the moment). Any advice?
The reality is that you only need to know how to make a few key drinks really well in order to be a successful bartender. Everything else is bullshit and you can look it up in the book. Look, I’ve got a secret: I don’t know how to make a Purple Hooter.
I’ve made a few of them, but we don’t really get too many requests for Purple Hooters where I work. So, every time someone orders a Purple Hooter, I’ve got to break open something we refer to as the Big Book of Dumb Drinks and remind myself what goes in a Purple Hooter. This usually happens about once every three months.
The book we use is called The Bartender’s Black Book by Stephen Cunningham Kitteredge, but we just refer to it as “The Big Book of Dumb Drinks” since it catalogues every silly, sexually-named, nightclub-oriented, childish, dumb drink you’ll ever get an order for.
It’s wonderful. Really. It’s spiral-bound, so it lays flat. It’s small, so it doesn’t take up much space behind the bar. And it’s actually got a bunch of other useful information.
You can purchase the book here.