The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks
David A. Embury, 1963, Faber and Faber Limited, 362 pages, indexed with line illustrations.
The 1963 edition is not an original first edition but was a book that was instrumental influence in my life. It is strange how a book bought so long ago could end up being so important. This is a book that I bought around the time that I had got a job running the public bar of a 4 star hotel in Southampton called The Polygon. A hotel that has since gone and a job I was in no way qualified to do. I had an early interest in drink, at that time mainly wine, but very little knowledge. The answer was to buy a book and study – this was the book. The Fine art of Mixing drinks was soon to be nicknamed ‘The Bible’ by my friend Andy and I. I studied and studied it until it became a part of me. As years went by my career moved away from drink and to completely different areas, the book moved with me and eventually was passed on to my oldest son who had developed an interest in mixing drinks and a slowly growing interest in whisky.
So why is this book so good? Simply put it is because it is a classic. It is one of those simple books that covers all the basics you want to know. It describes the history of the subject and a wide range of definitions as it introduces all the elements of the vast array of available drinks. It is not just a group of recipes although there is no shortage of them, and not just cocktails but punches, mulled wines and many more – including non alcoholic mixes. This book will tell you what to, when to, how to and in what to do it in. It looks at usage and abusage as well as tradition and etiquette.
Yes this book has aged and yet it is a timeless classic, and one I have learnt a lot from since the time I bought it back around 1977.