The revolution in bartending books — in bartending itself — began about a decade ago. Oh, “bartending” has given way to “mixologist” and for good reasons: behind the bars there is now a pool of talent unmatched in beverage history. In the past several years these experts have written great books, like the Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff and Raising the Bar by Nick Mautone.

This fall has seen the publication of another great book: Left Coast Libations by Ted Munat. Ted’s book ascends to a new plateau of inspired cocktail writing. The book is outstanding, outrageous, irreverent, challenging, and enticing. It’s a must have book for any of you who love cocktail books and want to know what is the very cutting edge in the beverage world.

The 102 drinks in Left Coast Librations take you on a tour of five serous drinking towns: LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. The great mixologist in each city are profiled, their personal odysseys from one establishment to another described, and, best of all, their superior cocktails presented.

These drinks are truly leading edge. I was certainly challenged by them and I asked author Ted Munat for advice. He agreed with me: many of these beverages are here as examples of the beverage horizon. You may not be making these on your own — though I suggest making friends with a local mixologist and showing him this book.

What’s so challenging? Well, there are some spirits here you probably don’t have in your home bar, like Velvet Falernum. And, there are many special ingredients that you’ve almost surely never made before: basil foam or agave-ginger syrup or dried chili-infused orange bitters. You may not have those on your shelf right now, but this book presents the 42 recipes for each and every one of them. Those recipes are one key reason why this is a book you will find yourself dipping into for weeks or months. Or maybe forever.

Besides the special ingredient recipes and the drinks themselves, this tidy volume is a true resource treasure trove. There are separate indices for the mixologists and all the drinks in the book, lists of the best bars by city, best bartending blogs, and the best mixologist websites. The book is slim, 160 pages, and packed on each and every page.

And those pages, by the way, are beautiful. The production quality of this book is excellent: the layout, pictures, paper quality, and fonts all make this a book you want to curl up with. This book is the quintessential proof that the Nooks and the Kindles of the world will never replace each and every book. There is quality here in Left Coast Libations you simply want to possess.

What can I recommend for you to begin: the Richmond Gimlet, created by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. This is an easy start, with ingredients you surely have or can easily make. The verdict? One sip and Suzen smiled, “More.” I complied. Ted’s recipe here is fun: the standard gin is there but so too some mojito-mint.

As I experiment, I’ll post more drink ideas but I encourage you to seek this book out and begin your own explorations. You will be very happy.

Richmond Gimlet

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Tanqueray No. 10 gin
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 sprigs mint

Preparation:

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

You want to shake this drink hard enough so that the mint is chopped up the ice into little bits, resulting in little green flecks in the glass. If you don’t have really hard angular ice, like KOLD-DRAFT cubes, they you may need to cheat a bit and chop some of the mint before putting it in the shaker.

Source: Left Coast Libations by Ted Munat