Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide: A Man’s Place is Behind the Bar by Tucker Shaw

The sentiment sounds oh-so sexist, but the execution is light and fun. “A good cocktail,” writes author Tucker Shaw, “carefully balanced and lovingly mixed, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

Shaw does not bring a mixologist’s expertise to A Man’s Place is Behind the Bar (Chronicle Books), but rather, as restaurant critic for The Denver Post and an accomplished journalist, he appears to know what he likes as well as how to do the research to be able to share it. For instance, at one point he writes that “Most dedicated gin drinkers pooh-pooh the vodka martini, but I, a fairly dedicated gin drinker myself, don’t. Vodka, treated correctly, is crisp and clean in a way that hoary old gin never could be and for reasons I can’t explain, a fresh vodka martini always seems colder than gin.”

However, most of A Man’s Place is Behind the Bar is not about Shaw’s sterling prose. He wastes no time getting down to mixing. This is a great book for someone who actually would like to know the difference between collins and highball glasses (though I love his explanation of a shot glass: “Duh.”) and what is absolutely necessary for stocking the home bar. The wannabe home mixologist could do worse than A Man’s Place is Behind the Bar. A great idea to help mix things up during this holiday season.

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