Book Review: The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book

A few years back, Frank Caiafa was hired for a daunting job: Run the lobby bar at the New York Waldorf Astoria, an icon of cocktailing with over a century of history in its walls and bartops.

For the last decade Caiafa has been gentling coaxing the place into the new millennium, reviving classic drinks, updating and enhancing them where possible, and introducing a new generation of drinkers to the traditions and tastes of yesteryear.

Caiafa’s collected wisdom is distilled into this new edition of The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book, a sort of compilation of a dozen or more “Old Books,” with a particular focus on two Waldorf-centric books from the 1930s. In nearly 400 pages, Caiafa takes you through an alphabetical exploration of the classics, providing their recipes, variations, backstories, and in-depth context for every cocktail’s creation. Whether you want to know the history of the Jack Rose, the Martini, or the Merry Widow, Caiafa has you covered. The Old Fashioned? Forget about it — there’s over 3 pages of backstory on this classic cocktail — and its relation to the Waldorf Astoria.

Caiafa provides extensive detail in his recipes, calling the spirits he uses in each drink by name and offering tips and suggestions on how to tweak each drink to let it put its best foot forward. He has done an impressive amount of work in taking old (and sometimes disgusting) recipes and improving them or outright reinventing them.

The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book isn’t just a book of about classic cocktails, it’s a must-have guide to tending bar, an encyclopedia of cocktail history that just so happens to have some of the most sophisticated and well-crafted cocktail recipes you’ll find in any book on the market.

A / $15 /  [BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON]

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