Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Drink: The PDT Cocktail Book, by Jim Meehan

Here’s the perfect gift book for the holidays – only you’ll never find it in time. The initial print run sold out instantly, the next batch won’t be available until 2012, and if you look online you’ll find used copies selling for around a hundred bucks. I had to borrow a copy to get a look at it. But it was worth it.

In 2007, I was in New York soon after PDT – or Please Don’t Tell – opened, and was able to score a reservation. The ultimate in modern speakeasies, PDT is inside a hot dog stand on St. Mark’s Place. You step into a phone booth, speak to a host, and the rear of the booth opens Get Smart-style to allow entry to the bar. The highest compliment I can pay the cocktails found therein is that they live up to the setting.

PDT’s chief mixologist Jim Meehan has collected 300 recipes in this book. There are a handful of classics – the Diamondback, the Vieux Carré – scattered throughout, but the emphasis is rightly placed on newcomers and innovations. Many of them feature ingredients than even the most spirited spirit enthusiast won’t have readily at hand, a point brought home in this vaguely ridiculous New York Times article. We bought a liquor cabinet not long ago and haven’t seen fit to stock it with 12-year-old Japanese single malt whisky and absinthe so that we could whip up Shiso Malt Sours at a moment’s notice. That’s one of the reasons for going out and for this book, which draws back the curtain and shows how the magician pulls off his tricks.

Meehan also includes brief, informative sections on professional and home bar essentials and an overview of must-read books. Best of all are the witty illustrations by acclaimed artist Chris Gall. The PDT Cocktail book has the feel of a modern classic. It’s the ideal thing to give your bibulous buddy ... next Christmas.

Here’s an interview with Jim Meehan and the book trailer bringing Gall’s work to life.