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Wickedly Delightful: A Dark Spirits: 200 Classy Concoctions Starring Bourbon, Brandy, Scotch, Whiskey, Rum and More Book Review

  • Jan 10, 2010
Being no stranger to beverages of the heavier persuasion, Dark Spirits: 200 Classy Concoctions Starring Bourbon, Brandy, Scotch, Whiskey, Rum and More by A. J. Rathbun immediately caught my attention. Vodka is a splendid elixir we often enjoy, but we often travel over to the dark side to enjoy rum or whiskey concoctions. I leapt into this journey to the dark side leaving safety and my trusty vodka sidekick behind.

A. J. Rathbun clearly enjoyed writing this clever bar book. Unlike most common bar books where beverages are simply listed in alphabetic order, Dark Spirits is divided into seven themes with their beverages listed in alpha order. This makes finding beverages for a specific occasion much easier to find. Along with recipes are colorful images, silly anecdotes, and historical tidbits. The silliness can be a little cheesy at times, but adds charm and enjoyment of the book's contents.

As we browsed through the various recipes, we found our stocked bar inadequate for making many of the provided concoctions. None of the ingredients are unusual for a well stocked bar, even though eye of newt was mentioned once or twice. However if you are used to beverages like rum and coke, you may need to run to the store and pick up a few things. To address this issue, A. J. Rathbun recommends purchasing the items needed to make a few drinks at a time so your bar stock will fill in over time.

I'm a Mr. Boston's fan when it comes to a serious mixed beverage book. Ours is so well used; the binding has started falling apart. Dark Spirits is not the same type of cocktail book. The layout is much more conducive for locating drinks which fit a particular event or mood. The added content provides a book which is enjoyable to read and browse through, even when no particular cocktail is desired.

A. J. Rathbun has written a witty bar book which cookbook enthusiast, party hosts, and home bartenders seeking to impress will enjoy and find useful. If any of those describes you, purchase this book and whip up many of the numerous dark spirited potions.

Simple to follow recipes
Full of helpful advice, historical tidbits, and sully anecdotes
Motivating and temping full page color images

Many recipes may require purchasing ingredients

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More Dark Spirits: 200 Classy Conco... reviews
review by . December 19, 2009
This is a cool and classy book full of recipes for mixed drinks using the "Dark Spirits" of whisky, scotch, bourbon, and rye. I am a fan of the dark spirits so this book is a great addition for when I want to have a party with a drink theme.    The recipes are easy to follow and run the gamut from well known drinks like Whiskey Sour and Mike Collins to ones I've never hard of like Enchanted Field and Power to the People.    The illustrations in the book are …
review by . November 24, 2009
Bye bye Miss American Pie - Whisky and Rye. Great book, great pictures and full of lots of great new drinks plus the old standbys like Manhattan, Old Fashioned and the like.    Happy Drinking!
review by . November 20, 2009
I have to admit that this book suffered slightly in my estimation by my having just purchased and read the excellent Esquire Drinks: An Opinionated & Irreverent Guide to Drinking With 250 Drink Recipes, a wonderfully well-written and entertaining, as well as historically- and mixologically-informative, guide to the intoxicant arts. After that, any book about the theory and practice of mixed drinks is bound to suffer a bit. The neat thing about "Dark Spirits" is how little suffering it does. This …
review by . November 19, 2009
Dark Spirits is on the surface one more bartending book in the pantheon of mixing books out there. However, do not be quick to dismiss this gem. This book focuses on dark liquors, like bourbon, scotch, whiskey, rum and others. Too often in Generation X and Y these liquors tend to be overlooked as being too harsh, or not modern enough. But before you walk past these to the Smirnoff and Bombay Sapphire, take another at these drinks.     Rathbun sets off to educate, true, but to …
review by . November 08, 2009
If you went to Harvard, forgive my little joke, but this is a Harvard Common Press book.     It is a superb bartender's guide. I've held off reviewing the book until I had some time to sample the recipes, and I found I could go on and sample these recipes for another six-months, but that would have just been postponing the work.    (1) The basic instruction and educational information about glassware, fresh ingredients, various liquors, and even such mundane …
review by . October 31, 2009
This hardback cocktail book is very gorgeous. There are 200 recipes and there must be 100 photos in this 307-page book. There are loads of recipes for very unique cocktails. Some look wonderful like the Irish Coffee, Sweet Dream and some of the tropical cocktails like the Honolulu Punch, Limbo and the Beach Bubble. Some of the recipes look gross like the Xalapa Punch, which is a Mexican cocktail with live flowers as a garnish. Most flowers have small bugs on them so I don't think I would want them …
About the reviewer
About this book


Dear Vodka: Your days are numbered. It's been a good run. Now make room for rum, whiskey, bourbon, and rye. A.J. Rathbun's got your number. --The Boston Chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC Boston)

In an era when countless glasses are burdened with mixtures that are light, bright, and bland, Rathbun fearlessly brings drinkers and their cocktail shakers over to the dark side. This whiskey- (and brandy- and rum-) fueled ride is witty, enlightening, and altogether delicious. --Paul Clarke, Imbibe contributing editor and proprietor of CocktailChronicles.com
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ISBN-10: 1558324275
ISBN-13: 978-1558324275
Author: A. J. Rathbun
Publisher: Harvard Common Press

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