Gary Regan is one of my favorite writers. Regan has been in the business for many decades and has become a well-respected writer on both spirits and cocktails. I think one of the reasons he has such respect is that he loves heritage and the history of the subjects he writes about. This is very clear in this book. Instead of just printing a recipe, Gary starts each one with a small note on where he first discovered the drink and any history that he is aware of at the time of writing the book. The results are a book that is an enjoyable read and a great reference book – not for just recipes, but the heritage of the cocktail. 

The Joy of Mixology, Regan, Gary. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2003. Introduction, Contents Tables and Charts, Glossary, Index, Illustrated, pp. 386.

This is more than your average recipe book, it is a textbook for bartenders. The reader here will find chapters on the history of cocktails, how to be a bartender, equipping the bar and of course recipes. The book is well written with a humor that only Gary Regan can put onto paper. It is an enjoyable read on many levels.

The chapter titled “The Bartender: Do you have what it takes” should be a must-read for every person hired to work behind the bar. The book lays out some very good guidelines for managing the responsibilities of the job and deals with other difficult situations that may arise (customers who have too much or unwanted advances towards the staff). The other chapters are equally informative.

Historians will be impressed with the fact that the book starts off with a history of the cocktail and that history is about 50 pages of the book. Regan surely has a deep appreciation for history and it shows. This knowledge is also useful information for a bartender and it is only appropriate that the book starts with this knowledge.

This book is a very good addition to a personal bourbon library. It will add to the reader’s knowledge and appreciation of his local bartender.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller