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JIM MEEHAN: Thank you all so much for coming.
Thanks to John Henry, as David said.
He has sponsored our cocktail today with El Buho Mezcal,
which I'll be demonstrating in just a sec.
And I've been nagging John for about a year, politely, of
course, because I knew that if he knew David, and I'd hope to
come and speak to you guys.
In many ways, I am here because of you.
And I'm not sure if you know that.
And part of what I'd like to happen during this Google Talk
is to open up a dialogue about not only-- you
want me over here?
Don't forget your cocktail.
JIM MEEHAN: I'd like this Google Talk to eventually
become a dialogue, because I think that not only am I here
because of what you guys are doing, but I think that the
future of what I do depends on the sort of work that you do.
And I'm not sure what brought you here today.
I imagine a cocktail might help, maybe a book would help.
I don't know if David mentioned, but we've brought
PDT hats, t-shirts--
we have El Buho t-shirts--
and all of the books that I have on stage on my demo table
over there are going to be given out to one of you for
asking a question after I stop rambling.
So I don't know why you came, but hopefully, for whatever
reason you're here, you will be rewarded.
But what I'd like to do today are a few things.
First I'd like to demo the drink that I made.
It's a perfect drink for Cinco de Mayo, which is coming up in
just four days.
So I figured for those of you who came out to maybe learn a
thing or two about mixing drinks, I could show you how
easy it is to make the drink you're having.
And next I'd like to talk about the book I wrote.
It came out in November 2011, "The PDT Cocktail Book." But I
want to take a bit of a different spin, I want to
actually talk about the process that I used to come up
with this book.
A lot of times people, they'll come up to me and ask me, so
you wrote a cocktail book, what was it like?
What made you want to write this book?
And I think that it's really hard to write something new or
to create something new when you don't know what's come
So I'd like to talk about the process that I used to develop
"The PDT Cocktail Book" and I'd like to introduce a big
idea that I'll throw in the beginning, that I'd like you
guys to marinate on as the Mezcal floods into your veins.
And maybe we'll talk about it together in
about half an hour.
But as I said before, I believe that the internet,
Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, on and on, and on his change the
way we learn, it's changed the way we searched.
I'm 36, I'll be 37 this year--
was one of the last generations that went to the
library, when we needed to find something out.
The last time I went to the library I felt like I needed a
master's degree to learn how to use it.
The internet is a lot easier to use than the library.
But one of the things I found, as a kid, when I used to go to
the library, before I used the internet to find information,
was, when I looked something up in a card catalog and found
out where the shelf was to find it, on my walk to the
shelf I'd oftentimes pass books, all sorts of different
books-- books about ship people tying knots, or guns of
the early Civil War, or just books that were very
interesting to me.
And I found that not only in what I'm going to talk about
with "The PDT Cocktail Book", but in how kids and my
generation is searching these days, that in many ways what I
learned along my searches, was just as interesting as what I
was going to get.
And one of the things that is confounding, ironic, maybe
sad, is that when we Google something, or when we search
for something on the internet, it takes us exactly to what we
are looking for usually, and it doesn't allow us to go on
that journey along the way and see other things that might
So why don't we get to this drink before I
exhaust that topic.
In thinking of Cinco de Mayo, the Margarita is obviously the
cocktail that is most on our mind.
In creating a new cocktail--
which I guess you could call this a new cocktail--
I often take a classic cocktail--
and play around with it.
tequila, lime juice, Triple Sec, Cuantro.
I usually use a little agave nectar to sweeten it, to
balance it out.
So I took that and I played around with it.
I'm going to use El Buho Mezcal, I'm going to use
fresh-squeezed lime juice, a little bit of agave nectar--
I usually lengthen it into a syrup so it pours easier--
and then a couple twists.
And these are things that you probably will see if you go to
cocktail bars in New York, like Mayahuel, which features
agave cocktails in the East Village.
But you've found that your drink from five-six years ago
has gone from maybe a delicious sour--
something like a Sidecar or Cosmopolitan--
something that is strong--
it's actually good drinks-- sweet and sour, and then
people are adding bitters to their cocktails now.
And then later people were adding Saint Germain and Creme
de Violette and floral ingredients.
Then people were adding herbs and herbal liqueurs, like
Chartreuse, and adding that herbal quality.
And then, finally, people have started adding spice and hot
things, so this is a Hellfire Shrub.
So taking that original recipe, I'm going to take a
shishito pepper, which isn't generally hot.
They say that a few of them in each batch is hot.
I'm going to add half an ounce of--
a little bit less, because this isn't a syrup--
add that on top of the shishito.
I'm going to give that a muddle.
And what I did for your cocktail-- which is in that
giant camera over there-- was I put all this on top into a
large bin and just muddled that, just like
you're seeing here.
I'm going to add an ounce of freshly-squeezed lime juice.
And then I'm going to add 2 ounces of El Buho Mezcal.
And you'll notice that when I'm making this cocktail,
because I'm speaking, I haven't added any ice.
I'm a big proponent when you're making cocktails,
especially, when you're making cocktails at a bar like mine,
where I might be making three or four cocktails at a time.
Build your cocktails without any ice and let them sit, so I
could make four of these if I wanted.
And then as soon as you're ready, then that's when you
want to ice your shaker and shake.
And, John, I don't actually have a glass up here.
So this allows me an opportunity for John, my handy
barback to come and bring me a glass.
I'm going to add my ice on the other side.
John Henry, El Buho Mezcal, thank you very much.
Give it up.
It takes a village, everybody, it takes a village.
So I'm going to get that together.
You want to get a nice strong seal there.
I always seal the cocktail shaker.
You want to seal right here, so that it's easy to open.
If you put the cocktail shaker straight in, you're going to
have a hard time getting it out.
Give it a nice hard shake.
If you go to a cocktail bar, and they're not shaking very
hard, order a beer and a Maker's on the rocks.
You can fine strain it, if you don't want all the little
And that's it.
This is the cocktail, if I were serving it at home, I
could put a salt rim on it, I could add some Chile to the
salt and make it a little colorful.
I could add citrus zest.
I could add all sorts of stuff and maybe only
do salt on the side.
You could add a shishito pepper there if you wanted.
You could garnish it with a lime wheel.
What do you guys think?
For some of you, it might be a little too sour.
For some of you, it might be a little too strong.
For some of you, it might be a little too sweet.
One of the things that a lot of people of my credentials
maybe don't mention is that's OK, we all
have different tastes.
So the beauty of--
I feel like-- every recipe is modular.
So if it's too sweet, pull back a little on the agave; if
it's too strong, pull back on the Mezcal, and on and on.
So that's your cocktail.
Does anyone have any left?
Man, all right.
Because I wanted to make sure that we weren't getting in the
way of efficiency here at Google today.
And I wanted to get you, guys, a good buzz before I started
on my journey.
Now, as I said, part of what I want to talk about is not only
the book that I wrote, but the journey that I
went on to write it.
I first started working at the Pegu Club on Houston Street
with Audrey Saunders in 2005.
Audrey Saunders was Dale DeGroff's--
Dale DeGroff was her mentor.
She worked with him right when he was leaving the Rainbow
Room; was the head bartender at Dale's bar that was opened
When Blackbird closed, Dale brought in Audrey as the head
bartender at Bemelmans.
Audrey ran Bemelmans for many years and then opened the Pegu
Club in 2005.
And for me, this is very much a watershed moment in New York
I got to be on the opening bar team.
At that time it's hard to imagine, because there are
dozens and dozens of great cocktail bars, even in
Brooklyn, much less Manhattan now.
But at that time, the cocktail bars in New York were really
Milk & Honey, Flatiron Lounge, Angel's Share--
those were the main ones.
Basically, there was three or four bars Employees Only was
almost open, and Little Branch was almost open.
So there were five great cocktail places.
Audrey opens the Pegu Club, and it was really sort of a
coming out party for the cocktail.
In these years 2005, 2006, 2007, you really see the
cocktail bar and the cocktail bartender go from person to
person to person, to place to place to place, till the last
couple years, where three places are begetting nine
places, and nine places are begetting 18 places.
So we're seeing an exponential growth.
But at the Pegu Club Audrey-- and still to this day-- had a
collection of vintage cocktail books behind the bar.
And at the time I was interested in cocktail books.
I had Dale DeGroff's "The Craft of the Cocktail." I had
Gary Reagan's "The Joy of Mixology", which you'll see.
I had Ted Haigh's "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten
Cocktails", which you'll see in my presentation.
But I really wasn't aware of how many old books
that were out there.
And Audrey had original copies of the 1862 Jerry Thomas, of
the 1948 "Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" by David Embury.
She had the 1937 "Gentleman's Companion" by Charles H. Baker
and all these beautiful books for us to look at.
And I immediately realized that there's so much about the
history of bartending, and so much about what I was doing
for her there that I really wasn't aware of, and I wanted
to investigate more.
I went to eBay and started spending all of my tips on old
bar books and started meeting people who had
more of these books.
I'm going to forward to my first slide.
1862, Jerry Thomas.
This is the first "Bartender's Guide".
The book on the left, the one that's sort of old brown one,
that is the first edition.
The green book on the right is the 1876 edition.
And the book in the middle with the torn cover--
so these are all my copies; they would have weighed about
70 pounds, or I would have brought them--
is the 1923 edition with an
introduction by Herbert Asbury.
This is a book that came out and was printed many times.
You can see the price here, I think it's says $2.50.
I think it initially started at $1.25 and then went to
$2.00, and then $2.50.
Each of these books was printed probably in seven or
And in the early days, this "Bartender's
Guide" was very simple.
It was a collection of recipes.
The recipes were not umbrella recipes, like cocktails are,
they were separated into shrubs, into punches, into
scuffers, into negoos, into sours.
Cocktails were very categorical.
And this was a very simple utilitarian book, that was
obviously meant for bartenders that had in the 1862 addition
a big appendix that was filled with information for bar
owners for how to make your own cordials, how to make your
This was before spirits were distributed in bottles.
So it had information for how to tap kegs of beer, and how
to blend whiskeys together.
Very utilitarian, extremely influential and it spunned
what I'm going to call "Jerry's kids."
You can see the 1876 edition of the "Bartender's Guide", on
your left you see O.H. Byron's "Modern Bartender's Guide" and
C. F. Lawlor's "The Mixicologist." "Modern
Bartender", 1884, the Jerry Thomas in the middle is 1876,
"The Mixicologist" on the right, I
believe, is around 1891-95.
There are going to be cocktail geeks on YouTube, who are
sitting there scolding me for not knowing my dates, so I'm
just going to make sure and check my cheat sheet, which
I've created here.
See, yeah, you've got 1894 Byron and 1895 Lawlor.
And what I call these "Jerry's kids", these are other
bartenders from other places.
I believe O.H. Byron is New York, and "The Mixicologist"
was published in Cincinnati.
But these are books that have very similar gatherings of
recipes, some differences-- you know, we've
gone another 15 years.
But the "Bartender's Guide" really hasn't sort of
transformed itself as a genre yet.
It's still a collection of recipes with a back appendix
that includes information about mixing your own syrups
and bitters, and cordials.
Moving on to about 10 years later, we get the first what
I'm going to call "technical bar manuals." 1900, the book
on the bottom, Harry Johnson's "Bartender's Manual." And
then, I believe, the first editions of the Hoffman House
were published around 1894, this one's around 1912.
And you can see the picture of the guy dashing the bitters,
and the slide says, this is how you dash a bitter.
One of the reasons why am I showing you these slides, one
of the things that I was thinking about when I was
writing the "PDT Cocktail Book" is how, why write a
cocktail book, unless you're going to add something new.
And then what is already out there, what has
already been written?
And as I started looking through these old books, it
was interesting to find how, through each generation, you
sort of saw an evolution, even in the books themselves.
The 1862, the 1890s, things are sort of very formulaic,
they haven't really evolved yet.
And then in 1900 to around 1910 you see books like these.
These are 300 to 400 page manuals that tell you how to
write a guest check, how to hire a porter, how to keep
your walk-in clean; the most infinitesimal details were all
mentioned in these books.
And I thought it was incredibly interesting,
because we are right now at a time, where if I pitched a
book to a major New York publisher saying, you know I
want to write a book, and I want to make sure that there's
a good 20 pages on how to get the bathrooms cleaned
properly, how to make sure the garbage gets collected, how to
make sure you know how to hire a bartender, how to hire a
barback from Mexico and not get busted by the government.
I want to make sure and add that in.
The publisher would look at me and be like, uh, this is
totally disinteresting and just pass it off.
If you look back 110 years, there weren't many, but there
were at least a handful of these books that were
published and republished, and popular, because I can still
get my hands on them now for a lot of money, which is showing
that during this time bartending is moving into a
craft, is moving into a valued profession.
People want to read these books, and the craft of the
cocktail is evolving.
We move forward from there.
This on the left is Kappler, 1895, he bartended at a very
posh hotel called the Holland House. "Jack's
Manual", that's 1907.
Dave Wondrich shall be disappointed, but I don't
remember where Jack worked.
And then on the right is 1908, William Boothby.
I actually have, I think, I have Boothby up
here to give away.
And I have Mr. Johnson up there to give away.
These are what I'm calling "the first celebrity bar
books." And as I said before, we've moved from very sort of
simple recipe books to very involved professional guides,
to right around 1910, we see these bartenders who've gone
from just being guys who ran pubs to being famous.
Many of these bartenders at the time had travelled around
the country, they had mixed drinks in numerous posh
hotels, and by now they have not only their own books, but
they have books that they're not calling "The Bartender's
Manual" or "How to Mix Drinks", but they're calling
it "Jack's Manual", or they're calling it "The World Drinks
and How to Mix Them" and they got that weird sort of thing
with Boothby, where he is the standard authority.
But the bartenders kind of by 1910 become a celebrity.
Moving forward to vest pocket books, which for me, remind me
of the function that PDA sort of serve for bartenders now.
A lot of times now if you go to a cocktail bar, and the
bartender doesn't know the recipe, the first thing
everyone does is they grab their phone and they start
Googling, well, I can find the recipe.
And everyone is on their phone Googling the recipe.
And following this period of so much--
this is the golden age--
"Drinks" from Straub is 1916, "The ABCs of Mixing Cocktails"
I've actually snuck in English; book is around 1915.
It was republished all the way through the '20s.
"Drinks And How They're Mixed and Served" by Paul Lowe was
1904, but was published for a decade.
And Applegreen's is around 1916.
So between 1862 and 1916 so many recipes were created and
the guests were so familiar with them, that the bartenders
needed these little sort of cheat sheet books to put in
their vest pocket.
So this would be one of the sizes of the books, and they
would put them in their vest pocket.
And someone came to order a drink, and they didn't know
what it was, they probably did what most of us do now-- they
sort of go over here and they started looking through it.
So it's sort of a medieval form of Google from a hundred
years ago, and it's interesting.
It's also interesting what I saw as I was putting this
together for you.
And this is why I took these photos is if you look at the
trim sizes of all these books, they're very similar.
This is taken from above, they're all very similar size.
These are very similar in size, almost
the same trim size.
Moving forward, now we have this genre of books that are
sort of vest pocket books that come out together all around
the same 15 years.
And then we move to what I'm calling "the end of the era".
This is a book I've also brought to give away.
1917, Hugo Ensslin's "Recipes for Mixed Drinks." It's
strange, you would think that the sort of last cocktail book
to come out before the golden age ended and prohibition was
enacted would be like a plush Bible that came with, who
knows what, a special box, but it's a very--
it looks like a very--
But this book by Ensslin, who was also a New York bartender,
there are at least 50 of his recipes in a book that came
out later, which will be in one of my next slides, "The
Savoy Cocktail Book."
And what's interesting, if you look at Ensslin, 1917, versus
some of the books of the late 1800s, is the sophistication
of the cocktails by 1917 verses the 1860s.
This is a time in America where champagne was--
champagne was around in the early 1800s, but imagine what
champagne tasted like after it sat on a horse drawn cart
crossing the West till it got to the guys digging for gold.
I mean, it probably didn't have much effervescence.
Who knows how sweet it was to preserve it?
So this is by 1917, especially in New York and on the East
Coast, you have all these interesting European
ingredients from all over the world, and all of them were
going into the cocktails.
And the cocktails of this that are in this book and they come
from this era are some of the most sophisticated that have
ever been created.
But as I said, it's the end of the era.
One of the popular myths is that prohibition was this
great time to drink in America, and it wasn't.
When prohibition was enacted, there was about a year, year
and a half for people who had a lot of money
to stock their cellar.
And some of them who really did have a lot of money put as
much as they possibly could in there.
But for most people, they couldn't afford to save up for
the end of the world.
So as they ran out of ***, and then pretty soon you're
either buying *** from gangsters or you're buying
*** from someone who's bring it illegally off of a clipper.
A lot of these people who were selling the *** were
criminals in it of themselves, they could not be trusted.
They were adulterating a lot of the spirits, cutting them.
You certainly weren't mixing with some of these finer
cordials and liqueurs, and bitters that you could get
when *** was still legal.
And drinking was illegal, so you had to do it quietly, you
had to do it discreetly.
And the great bartenders of the golden age from 1890 to
1916 they either quick bartending or they left.
They went to Cuba, they went to Tijuana, they went to
Paris, they went to London.
They went somewhere else, where their skills could be
used, they could work in hotels.
And what we saw happen during this time, which is
interesting, is these sort of prohibition era guides.
Here's how "Noble Experiments", there's another
one called "Giggle Water." And the pub dates, the pub dates
for these books are--
"Here's How" is 1927--
so that's on 1919 and 1933 roughly is prohibition--
so that's towards the end . "Noble Experiments" is 1930,
"Giggle Watter" is 1928.
So this is people, whose stash has run dry, there's recipes
for how to compound different spirits in there.
The recipes have gone from these very sort of
sophisticated cocktails from Ensslin to sort of going more
towards the Screwdriver, or more towards the Bronx.
This is a period--
and the other thing you'll notice about the trim size,
you can't tell by this, but the "here's how" books are
also really small.
And this is a period, where books go from being books
written by bartenders for bartenders to books written by
who knows who-- because they don't want to put their name
on it, because it's prohibition--
for people, who are basically hosting these illegal parties,
going to speakeasies, and want to know a
little more about it.
And the content has really left the realm, the cocktail
guide has really left the realm of the bartender and has
moved into the realm of the amateur or the host.
Moving forward from here what, as I said before, these great
bartenders in New York, or in San Francisco, or in Chicago
and New Orleans, in Cincinnati, who wanted to
continue their trade left and they move on. "The Cafe Royal
Cocktail Book", 1937, is from London.
The 1930 "The Savoy Cocktail Book" on the right, which is
still in print, and the one in the middle, "The Artistry of
Mixing Drinks" by Frank Meier, around 1937 as well.
These are the house cocktail books of three amazing bars.
"The Cafe Royal" and "The Savoy" were sort of UKBG--
the United Kingdom Bartender Guild.
These were sort of their house bibles in many ways, their
sort of Jerry Thomases.
And what happened thankfully for the cocktail globally is
that a lot of the best drinks, drinks like you saw in
Ensslin, move right over to Europe.
And these are--
I have a couple of these--
I think I have one of these somewhere to give you guys--
but these books are amazing.
And this is when you really see the books go from being
Jerry Thomas' "Bartender's Guide" to being books about
the places that drinks came from.
Moving forward, post prohibition, in my opinion,
things start tapering off, they get kind of sad.
"The Stork Club Cocktail Book", 1946, "The Old Waldorf
Bar Book", 1935, and Crosby Gaige's "Cocktail Guide And
Ladies' Companion" in the middle.
I think Crosby Gaige might have been gay.
But these are books, they were written by journalists after
And it's interesting, as I said before, we've gone from
sort of the bar manual being always authored by bartenders
to the bar manual through prohibition and all these sort
of nifty little gifty guides, being something that is now
not written by bartenders anymore.
They're written by hosts, they're written by men or
women among town.
And they are written not for bartenders to make good drinks
in bars, but they're written for the host to sort of
continue their roaring '20s parties into
the '30s and '40s.
The thing that you will find, and then moving forward, "The
Didactic Bartender", 1934, "The Official Mixer's Manual"
by Patrick Gavin Duffy and 1945-51 Townsend's
"Bartender's Book." This is when these kind of crotchety
bartenders who had been part of the golden age and ridden
out through prohibition, they see what's going on and
And what these books that you'll find from 1934 to 1955
are written with the bartenders are basically
telling the young bartenders about how they used to walk
through the snow, and how long it took to get to school; and
then they want them to stop making drinks with orange
juice and drinks with cream, they want them to go back to
They want them to learn the classics first and then they
can move forward.
But it's almost like the bartender has lost the ability
to command an audience anymore.
People are not as interested in cocktails
as they were before.
America does not have the same spirits.
We're in the middle of two world wars.
People are drinking what they're drinking to get drunk.
They're not drinking because the economy and because the
country is on the up and up.
So I call these "the didactic bartender guides."
And then we move forward to--
I know, this is going to end, guys, hold on--
The first cocktail theory book "The Fine Art of Mixing
Drinks" by David Embury, was not written by a bartender, it
was written by a lawyer.
It's about 700 pages, incredibly dry and acerbic.
David Embury liked his cocktail with a lot of ***,
a little bit of sour, and almost no sugar.
And this is where we move into the Mad Men era, hard-drinking
men, in the seven-to-one Martini.
Who knows where the bartender is.
And I included a book that came out in 2003, "The Joy of
Mixology", because this is the second theoretical bar book.
And then we move, essentially--
I'm not sure how many people you've heard talk about the
history of the cocktail--
but the cocktail really pretty much goes into the
toilet by the 1950s.
It's highballs, it's old fashions.
I think that maybe the Patrick Gavin Duffys of the
world got their day.
And the drinks, they're not very interesting.
They're dry, they're strong, they get the ad men through.
Once again, we're at war.
And then pretty much, if you want to find anything about
cocktails, you've got to look at books like "The Complete
Book of Drink" by T.E. Carling, or
these Grossman's guides.
And the cocktail book has taken away from the bon
vivance and taken away from the sort of "gay happy hosts",
and move towards the English.
And things become very analytical and dry.
And then we move forward to the absolute darkest point of
There's two cocktail books that I'd
recommend from the 1970s.
One is Stan Jones' "Complete Bar Guide" from 1977.
And I've put another book here from 2010 "Diffordsguide",
which I do recommend.
I recommend both these books.
And once again, I want you to look at these books sitting
right next to each other, because these books are very
much those kitchen sink time books that have thousands of
recipes in them.
And they both actually have around the same trim size.
As we're going through all the possible genres of cocktail
books, that I could possibly think of writing, when I'm
thinking, what should I write, if I write a cocktail book?
The autobiography is actually an option.
In the 1950s, Johnny Brooks wrote "My 35 Years Behind
Bars." He claims that he created the Between the Sheets
cocktail, a beguiling mixture of gin and lemon, and brandy
Also very dry, something that could certainly get someone
who wasn't paying attention to what they're drinking between
And then a book by my friend Toby Checchini "Cosmopolitan".
Toby wrote this book in 2003.
And I consider it to very much be the sort of kitchen
confidential of the bartending world.
Anthony Bourdain wrote this great book about being a chef
that basically involves nothing but parties and drugs,
m girls in the walk-in.
And that's sort of Toby's basically follow-up to that.
I'm sad to inform many of you who are thinking of leaving
your excellent job at Google, but that is not the way
bartending really is.
And then we--
we're getting there, guys--
we move to what I'm calling "the modern giants".
These are my modern follow-up 100 years later from those
celebrity cocktail books.
You have "Cocktail Technique" on your left, written by Kazuo
Uyeda, the founder of the hardshake method.
The hardshake method for all of you cocktail geeks-- you
probably know about this, but for those of you who don't--
it's a method of shaking, using a cobbler shaker, that
has become very popular among the YouTube set.
If you go to a bar and you see someone shaking like this, and
they look very Japanese, they've probably been watching
Kazuo Uyeda do this three-point method shake.
Greg Boehm has actually translated this
book, and it's excellent.
You have "The Craft of the Cocktail" in the middle, Dale
DeGroff, the sort of Yoda and tree trunk of American
cocktails, wrote that in 2002.
I have Charles Schumann's "American Bar".
Ironically, Charles Schumann is from Munich.
He has a bar, called Schumann's, which has been
around for at least 25 years.
He's one of the most elegant, charismatic, and interesting
bartenders on earth.
And his book "American Bar", written by a German, was a
huge influence on my book.
And then down below there you have the "Cocktails of the
Ritz Paris", written by Colin Field, an Englishman, who has
been bartending at the Ritz in Paris, which is now closed for
a couple years, for over 20 years.
So we have the modern giants in the cocktail technique.
We have a book that is very much one of those Harry
Johnson "Hoffman House" books.
It's very technical, very informative, as far as what
he's thinking when he makes a cocktail.
We have "The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris", which is sort of
a reprise of "The House Cocktail Book." In "American
Bar", we have a little bit of everything, which is what I
ended up going for.
And in "Craft of the Cocktail", we have a coffee
table book filled with great recipes and photographs.
And in my opinion, if you read "Craft" closely, you'll see a
bit of that sort of Patrick Gavin Duffy, sort of "let's
bring it back, guys".
And moving forward we have this whole genre now of what
Dave Wondrich calls "mixography".
And this is, guys, once again, going back to the 1940s.
These are guys that know way too much, they have way too
many college degrees.
And instead of studying whatever you do to get PhDs,
they decide, I'll write a cocktail book.
So in the 1980s, I believe, Lowell
Edmunds wrote "Martini".
He is a classics professor, I believe, somewhere in a
college in New Jersey.
In 2004-05, forgive me, Dave, Dave Wondrich wrote "Imbibe".
Dave Wondrich also has a Ph.D. In early English literature, I
believe, in Comp. lit.
William Grimes, "Straight Up or on the Rocks".
I think he wrote that in 1993.
I remember reading that as a college
bartender in Madison, Wisconsin.
At this time I was serving cocktails and orange juice
from the soda gun, a lot of Alabama Slammers,
Long Island Iced Teas.
My idea with molecular mythology was a cement mixer,
which is Bailey's with a little bit of Rose's lime--
stick a straw in it--
snake bites, the whole nine yards.
And I remember reading that book when I was in college,
and being like, this is so boring, who would want to
drink in a hotel bar?
It's actually a pretty good book.
2005 or 2006, Ted Haigh, set designer, who actually has
done the set design for the latest series
of "Boardwalk Empire".
Ted's based out of LA.
This book is brilliant, well illustrated.
It's called "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails", and
it's really one of the books that is most responsible for
the return of lot of these old sort of weird spirits they go
in cocktails that come out of books like this.
And on the bottom "The Grog Log", an early '90s book by
tiki guru named Jeff Berry, who has spent the last 20
years trying to find out what people like Trader Vic and Don
Beach were putting in these very potent and delicious
cocktails that ruled the '40s and '50s.
almost, guys, we're getting there--
the coffee table book.
This is "Speakeasy" by Jay and Dusham of Employees Only.
Certainly, there have been a number of others that I could
have put up here.
But what I've found in the last ten years, as I said,
thinking about what I'm going to write my cocktail book
about, is that the people buying bartender books from
the publishers, were used to buying books from chefs.
And they were used to not writing professional bar
guides, they were used to writing books that were sort
of something you could-- it had a Manhattan and a Martini,
and a Margarita, and was sort of light and lively, and
something that you could put on your coffee table.
This is a great book, but it wasn't what I wanted to write.
Another book that I've actually edited for the last
1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 7 years is "The Food and Wine Cocktail
Book." When I started working on this book, after Rob Willie
left, it was just a kind of collection of all sorts of old
And what I found in 2005-2006, when I started, there was this
sort of-- as I said before, I started working at the Pegu
Club in 2005.
And I felt like what was going on all over the country was
absolutely unlike anything that had gone
in the history before.
And I found for the last seven years that I can use this book
with my editor Kate Krader and the editors of Food and Wine
to actually document what's going on year after year.
So our latest edition just came out.
The other ones are around.
And it's kind of a neat way to follow what is out there.
And then last--
actually not even last, but not least--
is the "PDT Cocktail Book", a book I wrote in 2011, a book
some of you, guys, probably have in your hand, and maybe
even pacing through it.
What I wanted to do when I wrote this book--
and I promise I'm going to open this up for some dialogue
in one second--
is write a book that brought back the 1930s book, brought
back illustrations instead of photos.
I wanted a book that didn't just have recipes, but had
recipes that had a story.
I feel like cocktails tell a story, and I wanted the drinks
in this book to tell a story.
For that reason the illustrations in the book
aren't illustrations of me making cocktails at PDT, but
they're illustrations that document maybe the playfulness
of the cocktail.
I wanted a book that had an annotated bibliography, that
not only showed you where I found these recipes, but where
you can look for more.
I wanted a book that had the food recipes in the
back, and on and on.
There's one more cocktail book that I want to show you, one
more format of cocktail book I want to show you before I
start opening things up for conversation.
If you guys could play the video.
-The best bartenders in the world realize that there's a
sense of nobility to serving people.
-So this is some of the different ice that we use here
at Little Branch.
We use a hand-cut enormous rock of ice.
When you have a drink sitting on that, it will dilute much
more slowly, so you can sit there and sip your drink,
without it turning into a watery mess.
-If you have lime juice, or if you have eggs, or if you have
cream, and it's already a cloudy drink, that's usually
the decision maker between whether we stir or shake.
-And the fun part, we're going to give it an orange twist.
And in this case, a flamed orange twist.
You always want to use a nice fresh orange
with a shiny skin.
-Sea salt tends to clump around the edge of the glass,
whereas kosher salt gives you this nice fine rim.
-This is the Irish Coffee.
You can use the coffee of your choice, two brown sugar cubes,
and just give them a crush.
Irish whiskey is the traditional.
A little bit of hot water, and just float it
on top, mint leaf.
And that is an Irish Coffee.
-Gin & Tonic.
[END OF VIDEO PLAYBACK]
JIM MEEHAN: This is an app that I did right after I was
working on the "PDT Cocktail Book." It came out right
before the "PDT Cocktail Book" came out, so I couldn't really
do much to promote it.
But it's a book that is all digital.
And it's so hard to explain to someone how to stir a drink,
but when you have a video of it, it's completely different.
It's a new format of cocktail book.
And I guess what I'll leave you with before I take a
couple questions, because I know we're running late, is
the future of cocktail books, I think, is going to depend
heavily on the technology that you guys are working on, on
the way that we search for everything, and how we display
I would argue that it's so much--
I prefer, for instance, having something that I can hand
someone, something that I can touch, something that I can
refer to it.
And when I wrote this book, I didn't think bartenders would
still keep it behind the bar.
I figured that everything was moving towards apps.
And thankfully, that hasn't happened.
But I would argue to all of you that there's really never
been a better time to drink.
The information out there--
especially after the seminar--
and knowing that, and knowing that there's so much
information out there, and that this information is being
accessed by people all the world, it's kind of up to you,
guys, for how they'll use it.
And I guess the question I have is, as I talked about in
the beginning, walking you through the journey that I
went on, looking through all these old cocktail books.
Before I weighed in what was good about them, or what I
didn't like about them, and decided what I wanted to
write, when I wrote my own book.
How can the search that we use on a daily basis, many, many
times a day, maybe evolve or change so that you can see a
little bit of how you find information, instead of just
getting to that information.
So I'll leave that to you guys.
Do you guys have many questions?
JIM MEEHAN: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: We've got a question over there.
JIM MEEHAN: Yeah.
that I had in mind [INAUDIBLE], but for
everything that's come out in 2013 and end of 2012.
What do you see as sticking around?
What do you see as going to be passe in a year or so?
JIM MEEHAN: I think that, what's interesting is we live
in New York.
So what's happening here will come and go quickly, because
our interest cycle here is--
one of the things I realized working with the New York
media is that really all they write about, God bless them
is-- what's new and what's hot.
So if you want to remain in the media and become popular,
you have to constantly evolve.
So it's hard to say in the bigger picture how long some
of these things will stay around.
I think, at the end of the day, people
buy with their eyes.
And also people are impatient.
So the beautiful things, the things that involve the
ceremony, the things that create cocktails, where a
guest watches the bartender make the drink, and then the
glass goes to the guest, and then everyone looks at that
guest and says, I want that.
And then the guest actually likes that drink.
Those will be the things that stay around.
I think that the reason why people go out for drinks,
instead of making them for themselves in their home, is
because they want to see and be seen.
Even if they want to do it discretely.
So I think that if you apply that logic to some of the
trends that are going on.
If it's delicious, if it allows you to see and be seen,
if it's efficient, I think it'll stay around.
CREW MEMBER: Please use the microphones for your questions
because we are recording.
My question is, I guess I feel like, when I was a kid, I
couldn't walk in a grocery store and find an avocado.
I'd probably had never even seen one.
So as the world's become much more global, and we have
access to all different things from all around the world, how
has that changed the kind of drinks that people are, I
guess, experimenting with or designing, or whatever--
JIM MEEHAN: Yeah, I mean I think that it depends on
where you're at.
For instance, in San Francisco, the mentality about
what ingredients they work with is different than the
mentality, say, that we work with in New York.
New York is as close to Europe as we are to San Francisco.
So I find that, depending on which part of the world you're
in, you'll see different trends for how they use
For instance, in Copenhagen with Noman, the sort of new
Nordic cuisine, you'll see a different more locavore sense,
whereas in New York or in London, you'll probably see
more of interchangeable global sense; San Fransisco--
more local and sustainable.
But I think that in general, as I said before, it's making
drinks I think more interesting.
And one of the reasons why I've been able to remain as
interested as I am in cocktails, is because
cocktails have like an anthropology to them.
So you can follow the of this is agave-based, so I'm going
to use an agave-based sweetener.
And jabanero peppers are sort of things you find in Mexico.
So it's sort of the more you look at it, I think, the more
interesting it becomes.
I had a reporter recently come to me at a charity event a
couple nights ago and said, so what are the
latest trends in cocktails?
What a lot of people around here are saying is that we're
going back to the basics, more simple cocktails.
And one of the secret I'll tell you about most bartenders
is most of them are pretty lazy.
So, of course, there is an incentive to keep it simple.
But I think that the more you see avocados in cocktails, the
more you see these sort of interesting and esoteric
cocktails, that maybe involve things that you didn't expect
or never desired to be in your drinks, it's what makes going
out to drink interesting to me.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: So, first of all, PDT was my
first Speakeasy, so--
JIM MEEHAN: We never meant to be a Speakeasy,
but I'll take that.
but going through the phone booth, and doing that whole
kind of thing was a really awesome introduction.
So thank you for that.
JIM MEEHAN: No, thank you.
AUDIENCE: So one thing I want to ask is so the next time I
go, what should I get in terms of cocktail plus deep fried
hot dog pairing?
And a follow-up, how do I get in?
JIM MEEHAN: I do have a limited amount of business
cards, which you could probably auction off after
some of you go to your meetings.
But, yeah, I think the way that the menu is set up at
PDT, is I came from a wine background before I focused on
cocktails, so the list goes from light, refreshing,
usually white spirit drinks, moving onto to sours, moving
onto stirred and strong drinks, sometimes rich drinks
in the winter.
So the idea is to drink through it.
The idea of what we're doing trying to
do is course cocktails.
So in an ideal situation, like an ideal PDT experience for me
is you start out with something light an dry,
something like a Paddington, which is a sort of Daiquiri
variation with Marmalade and absinth.
You move into something that's maybe a touch stronger, a
touch sweeter, maybe a touch more bitter.
And then you finish off with something brown and stirred,
like the Benton's Old Fashioned.
She'll send the kids to college.
As far as the food, one of the things people always say, so
what hot dog should I have with what cocktail?
And really the food is there, if you have too many of these
cocktails, you're going to have to stop
having these cocktails.
So the food is really there to sustain you and fortify you as
you sip your way through my menu.
We have the Chang dog with the kimchi, so as long as you're
not on a date, I highly recommend that.
The Torres tots, I recommend everyone gets that.
That's Sue Torres from Suenos, all these amazing Mexican
ingredients on top.
Well, we have the mission Chinese dog, which has a
little bit of Sichuan pepper, so it's a little numbing, as
long as that doesn't bother you.
And then we have the wily dog, which is, as I've said on the
menu, this from wd~50, the dogs go
molecular before the drinks.
So they're all there to please you and help you gain weight,
and keep you drinking.
So it's your choice.
And what I told--
AUDIENCE: Is that what the deep-fried mayo is for?
JIM MEEHAN: Deep-fried mayo is to keep you
large, living large.
But what I tell my staff is that
ideally we want to serve--
we spend so much time keeping this menu up-to-date--
that we want to serve you the drinks on this menu.
A lot of times cocktail geeks will go to a bar and they be
like, so what can I get off the menu?
And it's just like, what we're trying to do, what we spend
all of our time on this menu.
So we do want you to try the drinks on the menu.
If none of them sound appetizing, we generally defer
to old PDT cocktails or the classics.
So I mean that's sort of our procedure.
You could walk in, just like you do at Milk&Honey and say,
I want something brown and stirred.
I want something with tequila.
I love the Diablo, or whatever your favorite drink is, and
then they should be able to help you with that too.
So I think what we'll do for those of you that can possibly
stay longer or drink more is I will find one of the-- we'll
reposition one of these tables for those of you who bought a
book and want me to sign it still.
And you get a shot of Mezcal as soon as I sign your book.
How do you feel about that?
JIM MEEHAN: Thank you, guys, very much.
I really appreciate your time.
CREW MEMBER: Thank you, Jim Meehan.