New York Bartender's Guide

1300 Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes for the Professional and the Home


By Sally Ann Berk

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Newly revised and expanded, The New York Bartender’s Guide includes even more tips, trends, and tasty recipes from the hottest bars in New York City. Featuring more than 1,300 alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink recipes, there’s something here for everyone, whether it’s the hottest vodka cocktail or the most traditional egg cream. Find out the latest trends from top bartenders, get tips on how to serve drinks either professionally or at home, and make some of the most delicious potables New York City has to offer.



Since this book was first published in 1995, New York City has been through many changes. In that time, New Yorkers have experienced events that none of us could ever imagine. But what shines through is the enduring spirit of New Yorkers who continue to celebrate life every day. And that means enjoying the good things that New York City has to offer…including the nightlife of this fabulous city. Just like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, both classics with style, perfection, and grace, many of the cocktails in this book are timeless masterpieces. As quintessential as the Flatiron Building, these cocktails—the Martini, the Manhattan, and the Cosmopolitan—are sensuous icons of the ineffableness that is Manhattan (and the outer boroughs, too!). This revised and reorganized edition of The New York Bartender’s Guide is a tribute to that heart and soul, to the indomitable spirit of New York City.

The New York Bartender’s Guide gives you the tools to make the perfect drink, and with more than 1,300 alcoholic and some classic non-alcoholic recipes for traditional and popular new cocktails, you’ll never be stumped for a new drink idea. In addition to all the drink recipes you will ever need, The New York Bartender’s Guide contains time-tested tips from famous New York bartenders. Why New York? Because, after all, if you can’t find it in New York, you probably can’t find it anywhere! Here is some of the collected wisdom of our favorite bartenders—good advice for anyone wanting to learn about bartending, entertaining, or just creating a good drink.

Margarita from Mesa Grill

Favorite Drinks

Nicholas Mellas, Gallagher’s Steak House: “My all-time favorite drink to make is a classic dry Martini with beautiful, extraordinary olives. Martinis have been drunk forever.”

Mark Fleckenstein, Gotham Bar & Grill: “I enjoy making classic cocktails and enticing people to try them. A perfectly proportioned Manhattan made with a light, blended rye such as Crown Royal is a charming elixir. I also like to take an old standard and tweak it a little, such as making a vodka gimlet with Hangar One Kaffir Lime vodka and fresh lime juice.”

Michael Lagnese, Union Square Cafe: “My favorite cocktail depends on the season. During the summer months it can be either a dry Tanqueray martini up with a twist, or a dry Stoli martini up with a twist. In the winter, I would have to say first is a Tanqueray Negroni, classic.”

Jack Kennedy, Delmonico’s Steakhouse: “Tastes in cocktails swing in New York. Right now, I’m making a lot of green and red apple martinis. I enjoy making the classic cocktails as well as the current favorites, but my drink of choice is vodka and Coke.”

Billy Steel, ‘21’ Club, Hudson River Club, Mesa Grill: “The most poured drink at ‘21’ was anything on the rocks, mostly Scotch. My favorite drink to make there was a classic Martini, with a little more vermouth than usual. At ‘21’ they are into making drinks the way they should be made.”

Peter Mellett, Au Bar, Mesa Grill: “I have watched the old standards fade from popularity, ordered only by folks of a certain age, only to be brought back into vogue. I saw a resurgence of the Martini as early as the late eighties, along with variations of it such as the Cosmopolitan, made famous at Odeon, in New York City.”

On Bartending at Home

Peter Mellett: “There is a big difference between mixing drinks at home and doing in at work. But in both instances people love to watch a bartender in action.”

Mark Fleckenstein: “Don’t buy cheap triple sec for your home bar, it can make a good drink go very bad.”

Jack Kennedy: “When I train new bar staff, I always tell them, ‘Don’t let the crowd absorb you.’ The same rule applies in your home. Whether you have two guests or customers or two hundred, give each guest and each drink the same level of attention.”

Michael Lagnese: “Whether bartending at work or at home, I try to make sure everyone always has a full glass in their hand. When someone is taking care of you with a cocktail in hand it helps to make the pain of your day go away.”

Martini with Dubonnet and a Twist (from Hi-Life Bar Grill)

Tips From the Pros

Peter Mellett: “All the up drinks are fun to make, Margaritas, Martinis, Gibsons, etc. It’s interesting to note that if one person is drinking them, most of the bar will follow suit. They look fun to drink.”

Jack Kennedy: “The best way to make sure you serve great cocktails is to begin with great ingredients and then mix them the same way every time. Experimentation is fun—adding a new ingredient to an old standard—but consistency is the key. Once you’ve figured out the right balance of ingredients, you want your customers to recognize the drink you put in front of them, to trust that it will be exactly like the excellent martini you made for them last week.”

Michael Lagnese: “This is your stage—make the most of it. Engage in conversation with everyone. Something can always come out of it … like meeting your wife, as I did.”

Sarah Fearon, Hi-Life Bar and Grill: “Every party needs a host to make sure things flow well. As a bartender you have to host a killer party every night. The first step to making this experience incredible is inviting your clients to feel welcome.”

Bar Etiquette and Oddities

Billy Steel: “Bartenders at ‘21’ would come in wearing a suit and tie, carrying a briefcase with their bartending tools in it. They don’t let you behind the bar there until you have trained for about five months, no matter what your background. This is real old-school, where bartending is a respected art.”

Mark Fleckenstein: “If you find yourself in a busy bar and you are with a group of friends, before you give in to the compulsion to start waving at your bartender, make sure everyone in your group knows what they want to drink.”

Jack Kennedy: “The rule of bartending is ‘Service first, your tip will come.’ I think that’s about right. And setting the right mood for your customers begins as soon as they walk in the door. Even if you can’t serve them right away, acknowledge them immediately. When you’re working you should be neat, tidy, well groomed, and polite. It also doesn’t hurt to be good with gentle one-liners, a bit of conversation to help customers relax but without being intrusive.”

Billy Steel: “The strangest thing I had to do as a bartender was at my first job, in this Mafioso bar called Paul’s Lounge. I used to act as the middleman for bookies and the bar clientele. They would place the bets and make the payoffs through me. Bartending really goes beyond pouring a drink.”

Michael Lagnese: “Please do not wave to a bartender. If he or she is qualified they will acknowledge you in some way—eye contact, ‘be with you in a moment.’ Don’t worry, they are not ignoring you (most of the time).”

Setting Up Your Home Bar

Sally Ann Berk, amateur bartender: “When I moved to New York, I lived in a studio apartment not much larger than a good-sized walk-in closet. In the kitchen area there was barely enough room for food and dishes, let alone a well-stocked bar. I still wanted to entertain, and found improvisation to be the answer to the space problem. Underneath the one window in the apartment was a large hole in the wall that had been cut out for a wall-unit air conditioner. I used that hole for a liquor cabinet/wine cellar. It was perfect.”

The Basics for a Small Bar

Here are the “bar essentials” for a complete small bar. Nothing is too fancy. Improvise and tailor your bar to the tastes of your friends and guests.


Beer, Lager (refrigerate)



Crème de Cassis


Red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon and/or dry French

Rum, light


Tequila, silver

Triple Sec

Vermouth, dry and sweet

Vodka, plain and at least two flavored (keep in freezer)

White wine, dry French or California (refrigerate)

Red Wine, Bordeaux or dry California


(Keep refrigerated, use fresh fruit juices when possible)


Cranberry juice

Diet soda

Ginger ale

Grapefruit juice

Lemon juice

Lemon-lime soda

Lime juice

Orange juice

Sparkling water

Tomato juice

Tonic water


Angostura bitters

Bar sugar

Black pepper

Spanish olives





Tabasco® sauce

Worcestershire sauce


Brandy snifter

Champagne flute

Cocktail glass

Highball glass

Pilsner glass

Wine goblet


Bar spoon


Bottle opener

Citrus reamer



Measuring cup

Measuring spoons

Mixing glass

Paring knife

Standard shaker


The Basics for a Full Home Bar

If you have enough room for a full bar, add the following components to those mentioned on p. 13. For mixers and ice, you may want to purchase a small refrigerator and keep it next to your liquor cabinet or bar. It is extremely convenient and saves time and space when you are entertaining.


Ale, Pale and Amber (keep in refrigerator)




Brut Champagne

Bourbon, blended and single barrel



Canadian whiskey



Crème de Bananes

Crème de Cacao, light and dark

Crème de Cassis

Crème de Menthe, white

Crème de Noyaux

Curaçao, blue and white


Dubonnet, blanc and rouge

Eau de Framboise and another eau de vie

Flavored vodkas (citrus, vanilla, chocolate, pepper, berry; keep in the freezer)

Grand Marnier


Irish Cream liqueur

Irish whiskey




Maraschino liqueur

Peppermint Schnapps


Poire William

Port (ruby, tawny, and vintage)


Punt e Mes

Rum, Anejo, dark, Demerara, and gold


Sherry, amontillado, fino and cream

Scotch, single malt and blended




Tequila, gold, silver, aged finest agave

White Sambuca


(Keep refrigerated)

Apple cider

Bitter lemon soda

Clamato juice

Coconut cream


Ginger beer

Guava nectar



Peach nectar

Pineapple juice

Spring water, bottled






Cinnamon, ground

Cinnamon sticks

Cocktail onions






Margarita salt

Mint, fresh

Cuba Libre

Nutmeg, ground

Orange bitters

Orgeat (Almond) syrup

Passion fruit syrup


Peychaud’s Bitters

Pickled jalapeño peppers


Raspberry syrup


Rose’s Lime Juice

Semi-sweet chocolate


Sugar cubes

Sugar syrup

Tamarind syrup

White pepper

Whole cloves

*Please use caution when using raw eggs in any of the recipes included in this book. Raw eggs have been known to cause salmonella poisoning


Balloon wine glass

Beer mug

Brandy snifter

Champagne glass

Cocktail glass

Collins glass

Double Old-Fashioned glass

Highball glass

Irish Coffee glass


Parfait glass

Pilsner glass


Pousse Café

Punch cup

Red wine glass

Sherry glass

Shot glass

Sour glass

White wine glass


Champagne stopper

Glass pitcher

Ice bucket

Ice tongs

Muddler, or mortar and pestle

Punch bowl

A Note on Ingredients

Making a great cocktail is not just a question of technique. You must use quality ingredients. It may be tempting to save a few dollars on a cheaper brand of gin, but your Martini will suffer for it. Using reconstituted lemon juice may be easier than squeezing fresh, but the taste of fresh juice is far superior. When bartending for guests, offer them the best.

Many of the recipes in this book call for fresh juice. A small electric citrus reamer makes squeezing citrus fruits a cinch and can be purchased for under $30. If you use bottled juices, make sure you buy 100 percent juice, which should be free of added sugars or syrups. Read the labels. Even cranberry juice is available in most supermarkets sweetened with grape juice, rather than sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Be sure to buy juices in glass bottles whenever possible. When you buy citrus juices, go for the ones in the dairy case marked “not from concentrate.”

When a recipe calls for spices, use freshly ground ones. Keep whole nutmeg and cinnamon sticks in your kitchen. You can use a nutmeg grater for both. Freshly ground pepper makes a Bloody Mary perfect, and a Margarita tastes much better when the glass is rimmed with the proper coarse salt.

Finding some of the more exotic ingredients may prove a challenge, but it is worth the effort. If you live in an urban area, you can find ingredients such as tamarind syrup and guava nectar at many Caribbean or Mexican grocery stores. Many natural food and specialty food stores carry hard-to-find components, too. Use mail-order gourmet catalogues, the Internet, or call friends who have access to more variety and ask them to have the exotica mailed to you. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, your grocer or liquor store manager often will be happy to special order something for you.

Glossary of Drink Terms

Apéritif Traditionally, a drink served before a meal to stimulate the appetite, such as a fortified or aromatized wine in a vermouth style. These include Byrrh, Dubonnet, Lillet, Campari, Pernod, Amer Picon, and St. Raphael. The term apéritif now refers more to the time the drink is served than its ingredients.

Aromatized Wine This includes vermouth (Italian and French types) and the quinined or other apéritif wines of various countries. Alcohol content is 15 to 20 percent.

Blended Whiskey Straight whiskey combined with neutral grain spirits.

Bitters A flavor enhancer made from berries, roots, and herbs, usually used to provide smoothness to a biting whiskey. (See also section on A Guide to Beer.)

Brandy A spirit aged in wood, obtained from a fermented mash of fruit or the distillation of wine.

Cobbler A tall drink served in a collins or highball glass, filled with crushed ice, wine or liquor, and garnished with fresh fruit and mint sprigs. The traditional cobbler is made with sherry, pineapple syrup, and fresh fruit garnishes.

Cocktail A beverage that combines an alcohol (usually brandy, whiskey, vodka, or gin) with a mixer (fruit juice, soft drink, or another liquor) and usually served chilled.

Collins A tall glass filled with ice, sugar, a spirit, citrus juice, and club soda or seltzer.

Cooler Usually served in a tall glass, such as a collins or highball, and consisting of a carbonated beverage, such as ginger ale or club soda, a wine or spirit, and a lime or orange rind cut in a continuous spiral, hooking over the rim of the glass.

Daisy An oversize cocktail such as a Margarita, made with proportionally more alcohol, sweetened with fruit-syrup, and served over crushed ice.

Distillation The process of separating the components in a liquid by heating it to the point of vaporization, then cooling it so it condenses in a purified form, thereby increasing the alcohol content.

Dry A term used for wine, liquor, or a cocktail to indicate a lack of sweetness. For example, a dry Martini is one with very little vermouth, the fortified wine that adds sweetness to the spirit.

Falernum A syrup from the Caribbean made of mixed fruits, sugar cane, and spices, used to sweeten mixed drinks, or an alcoholic liqueur.

Fix A drink mixed in the serving glass, may be another name for a highball—always served over ice.

Fizz A drink named for the siphon bottle that added “fizz” to a recipe of sugar, citrus juice, and, traditionally, gin.

Flip A cold, creamy drink made with eggs, sugar, citrus juice, and a spirit. It got its name in Colonial times, when a hot flip iron was used to mull the ingredients in the drink. There are few flips in this new edition due to the risks of using raw eggs.

Fortified Wine It includes Sherry, Port, Madeira, Marsala, etc. The alcohol content is between 14 and 24 percent.

Grog A rum-based drink originally served to sailors. The contemporary version consists of rum, fruit, and sugar.

Jigger A small drinking glass-shaped container used to measure liquor. Also called a shot.

Julep Made with crushed ice, usually Kentucky bourbon, sugar, and mint leaves.

Liqueur A beverage, usually sweet, naturally processed or manufactured by adding a flavoring to a distilled spirit. The flavor accents include, but are not limited to, almond, strawberry, orange, coffee, hazelnut, mint, and chocolate.

Mist Spirits added to a full glass of crushed ice.

Muddle To mash or crush ingredients with a spoon or muddler (a rod with a flattened end).

Mull Drinks where the ingredients are heated for thorough blending.

Neat Term for serving a spirit straight, in a glass without any ice or mixers.

Negus A hot, sweet wine drink traditionally made with Sherry or Port.

On the Rocks Term denoting wine or spirits poured over ice cubes.

Pousse-Café Made from several liqueurs and cordials, each having a different weight and color so that when poured one on top of another, they layer and “float.”

Proof The measure of strength of alcohol. One (degree) proof equals one-half of one percent total alcohol. For example, 100 proof liquor is 50 percent alcohol.

Rickey A drink consisting of lime or lemon juice, mixed with gin or some other spirit and club soda, usually with no added sweetener.

Shooter A mixed drink or shot of some kind of spirit, swallowed in one gulp.

Sling A tall drink usually served cold, made with spirits, lemon juice, and sugar, and topped off with club soda.

Sour A short drink made with lime or lemon juice, sugar, and spirits.

Spirit A beverage made from the distillation of a liquid containing alcohol. The alcohol content of the original liquid matters very little, as the distillation process separates all the alcohol out from the liquid. Congeners—flavor compounds—may also be separated from the original liquid along with the alcohol. The congeners provide the spirit with its distinct characteristics.

Straight Up Term used to describe cocktails that are served without ice.

Swizzle Originally, this was a tall rum beverage filled with cracked ice and stirred with a long spoon, twig, or stirring instrument until the glass was frosty. Now, any tall drink made with spirits and crushed ice and stirred with a rod until frosty is called a “swizzle.”

Toddy Originally, this was a hot mixture of spirits, sugar, and spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, lemon peel, and water, served in a tall glass. Today it may be served cold, with any combination of spirits, spices, and ice.

Varietal A term used to classify a type of grape used in the production of wine. Varietal is the term for types of grapes whose juice or wine is blended together. The term varietal wine means a wine made with at least 51 percent of one grape variety.

Whiskey A spirit aged in wood, produced from the distillation of a fermented mash of grain. Examples are Bourbon whiskey, Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, Rye whiskey, and Scotch whiskey.

A Note on the Recipes

Many of these cocktails are served “straight up” in a cocktail glass. You may prepare them “on the rocks” if you prefer. Simply follow the recipe, then strain or pour the mixture over ice cubes into an old-fashioned glass.

These recipes make generous cocktails. If you want a short cocktail, halve the recipe, split the drink with a friend, or save the rest in the refrigerator (sans the ice).


On Sale
Jun 19, 2012
Page Count
288 pages

Sally Ann Berk

About the Author

Sally Ann Berk is the author of The New York Bartender’s Guide, Smoothies, Shakes & Frappes, and Farmer’s Market Cooking, among others. She is the editor of Secrets of the Druids and A Reasonable Affliction: 1001 Love Poems to Read to Each Other. She lives in Northern California with her husband and son.

Learn more about this author