The PDT Cocktail Book – Review

Just over a month ago I posted about my recent move to making cocktails at home. My number one favorite and maybe the most classic cocktails is the Old Fashioned. In that post I mentioned that I would be soon receiving the The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy, but as it turned out, Amazon could not keep the book in stock. After a long wait, I opted to pick it up from Barnes and Noble for about the same price (after black Friday discounts).

The book is very stylish on the outside and definitely is telling you: “open me.”  The book does have the feel of a cocktail book or at least an old-time book with a sparkly dust jacket. The book starts out with about thirty pages of setting up a bar. In case you didn’t already know, the author, Jim Meehan, has a speakeasy in the east village of Manhattan. It was just featured on Anthony Bourdain’s new show The Layover. So anyone who didn’t know about it is probably now waiting in line to get inside. The portion of the book about setting up a bar mostly relates to Meehan’s own setup, but it does offer a few good suggestions for the home mixologist. Most people aren’t going to have 14 types of cocktail glasses or all the gadgets you’d see in PDT, but going for a few of the more useful ones is a good idea.

These are the tools I’d recommend from the book:


  • a couple types of wine glass for white and red
  • 13 ounce rocks glass / old fashioned glass
  • shot glasses
  • collins, or other tall 1o oz glass

Bar Tools (most double for cooking):

  • Bar spoons/mixers
  • Metal/Aluminum shaker with lid and strainer
  • Ice Cube Tray – regular size and large cubes
  • Funnel
  • strainer 
  • muddler, ideally wood
  •  paring knife
  • jiggers – 1 oz, 2 oz, .5 oz and .75 oz
  • microplane and citrus grater
  • pour spouts
  • bamboo cocktail picks and toothpicks

Other Useful Ingredients:

  • lemons, limes, oranges
  • Juices
  • Fresh Herbs like mint
  • Tonic water, ginger ale, club soda
  • simple syrup (placed into squeeze bottle in the fridge)

Before Meehan gets into recipes, he discusses and provides instructions for making certain essentials at home. These include syrups, ginger beer, as well as some basic techniques. I’m not expert, but this book definitely got me going in the direction of better understanding of making drinks at home. One final thought you might be thinking about. What kind of liquor should I buy? So many of the recipes in this book call for a specific rye or rum. Of course it would be great to have the money and space to stock your house with 100 types of alcohol but that isn’t feasible for most. My suggestion is to buy things that go in your favorite drinks, but also can be used in other drinks, despite the specificity of the type of alcohol in the book. My favorite include:

Gosling Dark Rum
Jack Daniels
Vodka – your favorite
Gin – your favorite, but I like bombay
Rye Whiskey – Bulleit is my favorite
Bitters – Angustura and Peychauds work well
Sweet and Dry Vermouth (one of each)
Anything else you enjoy

This book and these tips should get you on your way to be a home mixologist.

About Evan Halperin

I like to eat. I like to cook. I like to eat what I cook. Now, I will share with you what I like to cook. My wife and I may be a vegetarian and a carnivore, but it doesn’t mean we can’t cook a nice meal with both, without compromising taste. I will share my creative meals of the Carnivore and the Vegetarian.
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5 Responses to The PDT Cocktail Book – Review

  1. I’m going to PDT on Monday…can’t wait to try some of these cocktails!

  2. Have fun! Order a hot dog!

  3. Soma Sengupta says:

    Great post. Thanks!

  4. Herb1419 says:

    Herb would like a martini the next time he comes to visit!

  5. Vokda or Gin? Dirty or regular. I better get olives.

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