cover image RAISING THE BAR: Better Drinks Better Entertaining

RAISING THE BAR: Better Drinks Better Entertaining

Nick Mautone, , with Marah Stets. . Artisan, $27.50 (287pp) ISBN 978-1-57965-260-9

Mautone, former manager of New York's Gotham Bar and Grill, and Gramercy Tavern, applies 20 years of fine-dining knowledge to the art of the cocktail, explaining how to perfect the Manhattan and the Martini, and bringing herbs, exotic fruits and other unpredictables into the realm of the highball. Beginning with chapters on bar basics and ingredients, Mautone addresses the science of balancing liquor and mixer, lectures on the proper size of ice cubes, and reveals that homemade grenadine is as simple as sugar, water and pomegranate juice. Fifty-two of the 250-plus offerings fall into the "Favorite Classic Cocktails" section, resplendent with standards like the Old-Fashioned and the Rusty Nail. Thus fortified, the rest of the book strives for, and often attains, a level of Falstaffian bliss. There's a Kaffir Lime Kocktail with honey and tequila, and a Whiskey and Ginger Muddle with dried apricots and fresh ginger awash in bourbon. A section on nogs features eggnog, mulled wines and a Chestnut Hot Chocolate with Frangelico. Experiments with herbs include the Rosmarino, with rosemary-infused vodka, and a Basil Martini, topped with a slice of sun-dried tomato. Wasabi turns up in an Asian Mary, taking the place of a Bloody's traditional horseradish. Mautone includes 15 nonalcoholic ades and punches, as well as snacks like Pumpkin Seed Popcorn and Bourbon-Bacon Bean Dip. Color photos throughout. Agent, David Black. (Dec.)