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A Book Review and Excerpt: How To Booze- Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice

How to Booze: Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice by Jordan Kaye and Marshall Altier was released a couple of weeks ago. The book purports to be a pairing of cocktails with the appropriate life situations, but after reading it I think of it as often hilarious, well-written text and very good recipes; many of them new to me.

HowToBooze (1)

I don't necessarily agree that the Negroni is the perfect drink to have during a threesome (perhaps something more hydrating), but I like the thought that went into it and how they make the text all about the motives on the TV show Three's Company.  

The pairings are fun and include the appropriate drinks for self-pleasure (Adonis), playing Dungeons & Dragons (Bobby Burns), experimenting with your sexuality  (Fancy Free), reading the bible (Angel Face), Surviving (your kids') Sleepovers (Old McIntyre), and the apocalypse (Spiced Colada).  

I find the text charming even when the theme is "Sexual encounters in generic bars and hotels across the land" as it is for one chapter. The tone is almost that of an older man reflecting back on life, like you'd get in a movie voiceover: "Sometimes this stuff happens, and you may as well have a drink." After reading a bunch of the book I began wishing the voice was a character in a novel who could go on these drinking asides in the midst of a plot about something else. Which I guess is saying I really liked it.

But anyway, the best way to learn about the book is to read a chapter, so they've allowed me to publish an excerpt, which you'll find below the jump. 

(An excerpt from How to Booze by Jordan Kaye and Marshall Altier)

The Proposal: “I Do Not Want to Be Doing This”

Well, then, toughen up and just don’t. Marriage can be great for the right people in the right circumstances, but if you’re disposed to view marriage with fear, we can assure you that it’s everything you’re afraid of and more. Marriage is not for a lot of people, many of whom are already married. Your distinct advantage is that you can be unmarried—and you don’t even need to hire a divorce lawyer to get there. Don’t even think of trying to extend the relationship past tonight, though; it will just go from bad to worse.

It is true that the expectation to propose/accept a proposal is an acute problem in your life. But if you think that getting engaged is a viable solution then you are suffering from an even more acute failure of the imagination. So we will spell it out for you: the next six to nine months of wedding planning will be more psychically excruciating than anything you have ever experienced. And only then, once that’s over and you’ve settled into a reluctant marriage, will you first learn what “psychic pain” even means.

Saying “no” isn’t that simple, you say—but it’s always that simple. You may be complicated, your significant other may be complicated, and your relationship may be complicated. But the solution is simple. If you dread the question that you know is coming at the end of the night—or the question you are expected to pose, as the case may be—here’s a mouthpuckering, complicated drink: just what the doctor ordered for powering you up to make the difficult but inevitable choice.


1½ oz bourbon or rye (4.5 cl)
1 oz sweet vermouth (3 cl)
1 oz Campari (3 cl)

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with lemon peel.

If a Manhattan and a Negroni shagged up, this would be the spawn. Not quite like either of its parents, though, is it? Like a Manhattan, the Boulevardier takes its sweetness from Italian vermouth and its spicy depth of flavor from rye. But the Boulevardier’s Campari bitterness is much crisper and more pronounced than what you will get from the rich, almost musty Angostura found in a Manhattan. Meanwhile, the Boulevardier differs from the Negroni in two ways: first, most obviously, it uses rye rather than gin. But equally important, the Negroni is equal parts each gin, vermouth, and Campari, whereas the Boulevardier is heavier on the spirit. This makes the Boulevardier less bitter and also a bit heavier and boozier.

Musing over these kinds of comparisons may seem, to someone reading over your shoulder, like pure mental masturbation. And that’s probably what it is. But making connections between drinks helps build an understanding of how mixology works on a more abstract level. This will help you remember recipes and give you the tools to invent your own. What all that gives you, we can’t exactly say. Except to observe that better mixing skills is something to celebrate. Now that you have gained your independence, there will be plenty more time for boozing.


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Richard Cobeen

I actually made this last night for myself. I like it much better than a Negroni, where the Campari overwhelms the gin, whereas the rye (Rittenhouse 100) stood up to it. The description above, with the comparison to a Manhattan and Negroni, is on the mark, but the book in general doesn't sound up my alley.


1794. old overholt.

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