Legendary mixologist Jim Meehan, in his introduction to Drink What You Want, says of John deBary, one of his former bartenders at NYC's PDT speakeasy, "John's cocky, idiosyncratic, culturally literate voice is like the subject matter itself: bold, brash, bitter, exacting, and occasionally scandalous." Which is to say that this is a drinks book with a strong personality.
As deBary himself says, "Ultimately, I'm more concerned with making drinks that I like than I am with authenticity—and that's my goal for you, too."
Rest assured that when deBary departs from the familiar, it's with knowledge and purpose. His brisk discussion of the Manhattan, for example, offers a clear rationale for the classic version, urging the right amount of vermouth, cautioning against a failure to use bitters, and warning against over-stirring lest the drink become limp and flavorless. That commonly encountered twist of orange peel: "a bit much, considering the aromatic complexity that already exists in the drink." But with that in mind he deftly suggests a half dozen variations that open up a host of additional possibilities.
If you feel like you have a handle on the classics, deBary offers plenty of imaginative concoctions of his own devising. A watermelon fennel Collins, a Corpse Reviver Number Blue, a pineapple Scotch punch for parties. Definitely not the same old same old.
Hardcover. Color illustrations throughout.