Book Review

Book Review – Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Cocktails and Stories from the World’s Hippest Borough

Brooklyn Spirits Cover

Though we’ve dabbled in the occasional cocktail concoction, the Boozedancers are simple men when it comes to drinking (some might even go so far as to call us simpletons. I’m looking at you, Madame Rouge and Benita!). If a libation involves more than just pouring it into a glass and adding ice and/or water to it, then we probably won’t bother making it, and will instead pour ourselves a glass of Craft Beer or Whisky. This is not to say that we don’t appreciate a beautifully crafted cocktail. We do! Bring on the Margaritas, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, Daiquiris, Sazeracs, Negronis, or anything else you can think of, and please be sure to keep our glasses full (we tip well, so it’s in your best interest to keep us hydrated)! While we’re too lazy to make one of those drinks ourselves, we respect and appreciate those that consider bartending a labor of love.

Speaking of people that take their drink very seriously…

Way back in late October, we were asked by Second Self Media (a Brooklyn based PR firm) if we’d be interested in reviewing a book about the Craft Distilling and Craft Cocktail movement in the “World’s Hippest Borough”, i.e. Brooklyn. Since you’re currently reading a review of the book in question, we obviously said yes.

The title of the book is “Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough”. It was written by Peter Thomas Fornatale and Chris Wertz, and features photography by Max Kelly along with cocktail recipes from various bars and restaurants in Brooklyn that are crafted with Brooklyn made spirits and mixers. The book opens with a bit of a Brooklyn back story (they reference an excellent article by Esquire’s David Wondrich about the Brooklyn Renaissance, which is the first thing that popped into my head when we were first approached to review this book), and then goes on to tell the tale of the following Brooklyn based spirit producers:

Each chapter starts with the individual spirit producer’s back story, and then features those Brooklyn spirits based cocktail recipes that I told you about. For the majority of the people featured in the book, spirits producing is a second career choice. One guy was a former underwear model. One guy was a successful stock trader for Deutsche Bank. And another guy was the former owner of an aerospace company. As you can see, this book is filled with stories of very smart people that decided to take a chance and follow their dream. I can totally respect that. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I am also a wee bit jealous.

Instead of talking about all of the stories that piqued my interest in the book, I will just tell you about one cocktail recipe that completely blew me away. It didn’t blow me away because it was incredibly complicated or incredibly unusual (there are plenty of those cocktails in this book, and while they all sound incredibly delicious, there is no way that I’m making any of them). It blew me away because it left me asking myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”. Here’s the cocktail tale that I’m talking about:

The Wedding SlingerThe Wedding Slinger. A Manhattan with a healthy dose of ginger ale. I’ll say it again, “Why didn’t I think of that?”. I love a well crafted Manhattan, and whenever I attend a wedding, a Bourbon and Ginger Ale is my drink of choice. Why oh why didn’t I ever think of combining the two? This is why I have complete respect for people that know what they’re doing behind a bar. They can take something simple, and elevate it to something that is positively drool worthy.

If you’re looking for a well written book that features (a) great stories about people living their dreams, (b) beautiful photography, and (c) mouth watering cocktail recipes, then Brooklyn Spirits was craft made just for you. In case you don’t believe me, here are a few screen captures from the book:

That’s just a small taste of what you will experience if you choose to peruse Brooklyn Spirits. Even if you don’t go ahead and make your own Dried Lavender Syrup (page 142) for that River’s Edge cocktail (also on page 142) that left your mouth watering after reading all about it, at least you can never say that they didn’t tell you how it’s done. Just so you know, I won’t be going to that kind of trouble either, but the next time I’m in New York, I may just head to the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, because I now know about a little place called Lavender Lake that will definitely go to that kind of effort so that I can enjoy this delicious sounding cocktail in their award winning beer garden. Brooklyn. It’s that kind of place. Let’s just hope that it never becomes THIS kind of place…


Many thanks to Second Self Media for sending us a PDF version of this beautifully crafted book!

5 replies »

  1. I’m not opposed to making cocktails. I just find that I never have the right ingredients when I want to make one. And, it is so much easier to fill a pint glass with whiskey and be done with it.

    Nice review. Now, I want to go to Brooklyn!


    • Totally with you. Love me some cocktails, but they require too much effort. I think that’s pretty much what I said in the review.

      Glad you enjoyed the read. Road trip? You know I’m game!


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