Book Review: “The Cocktailian Chronicles: Life with the Professor” by Gary Regan

Gary Regan (aka Gaz) is one of the world's most acclaimed cocktail craftsmen. (I'd call him an artist, but he might be offended — he's a working bartender, after all, not given much to pretensions.) Through his books like The Joy of Mixology and The Bartenders Bible, Regan has educated scores of bartenders and cocktailians, both amateur and professional alike. 

The Cocktailian Chronicles: Life with the Professor is, despite its title, not a book about Gaz and I cohabitating. It is instead a collection of his columns that originally ran in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, supplemented with notes and afterthoughts. They are told from the point-of-view of "The Professor" (not me), a bartender at a cozy (fictional) tavern in San Francisco who bares a slight resemblance to Regan himself.

Each of the columns is organized around a specific cocktail (e.g., the Floridita Daiquiri, the Aviation) and tells a story or anecdote about the drink, featuring a cast of quirky characters drawn from Gaz's own life. The columns all end with a recipe for the drink, along with the author's "A Final Word at The End of the Bar," a behind-the-scenes note about the reality behind the column, and sometimes an updated recipe or two.

The Cocktailian Chronicles is a fun, witty read that also gives some useful advice about cocktails and spirits, along with some excellent recipes that you can try out yourself. (Or request on your next trip to the local saloon.) It's one of the most entertaining books I've read in quite a while.

There are few people in the world of cocktails as knowledgeable as Regan, and fewer still that can write with his panache. Here's hoping that The Professor returns for another go-around soon.

Note: The link above is to the Kindle version of the book. There is also a paperback edition available, although it's rather expensive. Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free app that will allow you to read Kindle books on your computer, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.

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