I finally received my copy of David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, courtesy of the bartender’s dream publisher, Mud Puddle Books. They’ve been reissuing out-of-print cocktail books, including Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual (1900) and How To Mix Drinks: A Bon Vivant’s Companion by Jerry Thomas (1862). They all have introductions by the likes of David Wondrich, Audrey Saunders and other current players.
Embury was never a bartender, just an aficionado. And his drinks are unquestionably strong and dry (8-2-1 proportions in a daiquiri?). But his passion is undeniable and a delight to read. Until now, if you wanted a copy it would take months of diligent ebay-ing and a few hundred dollars.
My favorite quote so far, on procuring bottles of Mount Vernon rye and Old Granddad bourbon 18-20 immediately after the repeal of prohibition:
Oh yes, I still have a bottle or two of these rare old jewels of perfection, but I don’t drink them. I occasionally get out a medicine dropper and gently anoint my tongue with a few drops – just so I won’t forget what real whisky should taste like.
David Embury, you are a treasure. And Mud Puddle, I love you guys!