The New Cocktail Hour

The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks


By Tenaya Darlington

By André Darlington

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 26, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Master the art of craft cocktails — or just prepare to impress your friends — with this collection of drink recipes and entertaining ideas for the home bartender!

Libation-loving siblings André and Tenaya Darlington show you how to make cocktails from every era, reimagined for a contemporary palate. Dial back the sugar, and load up on quality ingredients. The New Cocktail Hour shows you how to mix incredible craft cocktails and gives you a complete history of classic recipes and spirits. You’ve never seen a cocktail book like this before! Unique features include:
  • 214 vintage and modern recipes, complete with tasting notes
  • Tips on pairing cocktails with everything from pizza to oysters
  • Suggested brands for building a well-stocked bar
  • Seasonal ideas for syrups, shrubs, and garden-to-glass drinks
  • Advice for hosting craft cocktails parties at home





We’re not bartenders . . . we’re lushes. We are siblings and journalists who have covered the food and drink beat for over a decade. (You could say we’re drinkers with writing habits.) In that time, we’ve also become serious home enthusiasts.

We became enamored of mixing drinks in our early twenties, at the onset of the craft cocktail boom. As brother and sister, we often celebrated milestones by inventing special drinks for one another in our apartment kitchens—the Demoted Freelancer, the First Gray Hair—and eventually we traveled around the country in search of transportive sips at new cocktail meccas. Our wild passion, combined with our journalistic inclination to take notes and do research, has resulted in the book you now hold in your hands.

What you have before you is a compendium of exquisite drinks from the last two hundred years, with flavor notes, food pairings, and historical context. We don’t know of any other cocktail resource that has been curated in quite the same way. Most books present cocktails in alphabetical order or group them by spirit, making it impossible to grasp how drinks have evolved. When we began organizing recipes by era, fascinating flavor patterns emerged. For example, we saw how sweetness exploded after Prohibition and how bitterness could be traced to early medicinal elixirs—a taste that faded, only to become beloved again today.

We also love to cook, and as we delved into cocktails we naturally began to play with food pairings. We took a shine to fixing citrus drinks alongside oysters, thanks to cocktails like the Pimm’s Cup (page 171)—which was invented at a British oyster bar—and we discovered how well tiki drinks riff off spices in Thai and Indian cuisines. Throughout these pages, we offer our flavor notes and pairing suggestions so that you can experiment, too.

The craft cocktail movement has restored the cocktail as an American rite. Today’s challenge is to incorporate its lessons and recipes into daily use at home. There has never been a better time to do so. The explosion of small-batch tonics, artisan bitters, craft spirits, and resurrected liqueurs means that home mixology is more exciting than ever. Our goal is to make it accessible. What we pass on to you are the things that we have discovered to be essential—about mixing balanced drinks, about stocking a liquor cabinet, about preparing your own syrups and shrubs. We also chose drink recipes that reflect a contemporary sensibility, emphasizing seasonality and unrefined sweeteners. Whether you’re a cocktail-scene veteran or a thirsty newcomer, we hope that this collection—like a good cookbook—becomes your household cocktail guide. Dog-ear the pages, spill rum on the spine, and scribble notes in the margins.

It’s time to take matters into your own shaker.


If you’re hunting for a specific drink by name or looking for drinks by base spirit, flip to the index in the back. If you’re wondering which bottles to buy at the store, we offer recommendations for each recipe along with flavor notes in our Booze Glossary (page 271).

Here are a few things that separate this book from the colossal list of great literature on the subject of mixed drinks:

Tasting Notes

Every drink in this book includes flavor descriptions—something we yearned for as we combed through recipes over the years, licking our lips but also scratching our heads as we tried to imagine how an unknown drink might taste. If you love citrusy cocktails or herbaceous drinks, you can easily find them by scanning the tasting notes for each recipe.

Pairing Ideas

We suggest food for each cocktail so that you have some idea which drinks pair well with, say, sushi, barbecue, pasta, spicy foods, or dessert. We also provide some general pairing guidelines in What to Eat with What You Shake (page 18).

Chronological and Occasional Organization

Part Two of this book is organized by era so you can experience the evolution of the American cocktail. Note that we’ve taken the liberty of placing some drinks in the time period in which they became widespread, not necessarily when they were created. Part Three is organized by seasons and special occasions, so you can quickly find a brunch drink or a dessert cocktail. This section also includes a chapter on tiki drinks, along with a final chapter on no-proof cocktails, for designated drivers and non-drinkers.

Curated Drink Lists

Flip through this book and you’ll find conveniently curated lists in each chapter to help you find the right drinks for exploring and entertaining.


Six Must-Try Forgotten Heritage Cocktails (page 53)

The Hemingway Bar (page 62)

Five Speakeasy Drinks to Make Before You Die (page 79)

Quintessential New Orleans Cocktails (page 106)

Literary Cocktails (page 114)

Movie Night Cocktails (page 125)

Farm-to-Glass Cocktails (page 136)

Cocktails for Oysters (page 154)

Cocktails for a Cheese Board (page 172)

Tiki Takeout (page 191)

Cocktailing for Couples: Six Romantic Drinks (page 208)

Holiday Cocktails (page 217)

Bitter Cocktails We’re Sweet On (page 228)

Low-Proof Cocktails (page 232)


In the back, you’ll find recipes for syrups, shrubs, and more (Part Four), along with techniques for making impeccable drinks and garnishes (Parts Five and Six), followed by a glossary of the booze we like to use (Part Seven).

We hope this book inspires you to fall in love with a signature drink, explore recipes from different eras, and host your first, second, or hundredth cocktail party—complete with fresh juices, quality spirits, and stunning garnishes.


So what is a craft cocktail exactly? It’s a mixed drink in which all of the elements—from spirits to mixers and garnishes—have been selected with care to create visual appeal, seductive aroma, balanced taste, depth of flavor, appropriate mouthfeel, and above all, some pizzazz. The great ones even have a good story. Like a bespoke suit or a handmade bag, the final product transcends the ordinary. It sings. It embodies inspiration, quality, and skill. Does this mean you need to begin an in-home ice program and invest in a sous vide appliance? No. With a little creativity and a few tips, you can craft fine drinks at home without a lot of fuss or special equipment.


  Fresh ice, made from filtered water

  Seasonal inspiration (herbs, fruit, spices)

  Chilled glassware

  Homemade syrup, made from raw sugar (page 241)

  Freshly squeezed juices


  Technique (page 260)


A great cocktail is made in the details. In Part Five (page 253) you’ll find information about tools, glassware, specific pantry items, and techniques that are key components of successful cocktailing. Here are the five most important things to know when you’re getting started:


In the words of bon vivant Charles H. Baker, Jr., who penned a book on exotic cocktails at the turn of the century, “We can no more build a fine cocktail on dollar gin than Whistler could paint his mother’s portrait with barn paint.”


Bartenders, like chefs, call this setting up a mise en place. Once you’ve read through the recipes, set out your bottles and cocktail tools (page 254). Then, squeeze your juices, and cut any garnishes. You don’t want to finish making drinks, and then have to dig through kitchen drawers for a peeler.


It takes five minutes to completely chill a glass in your freezer. If you skip this step, your drinks will turn lukewarm within minutes and taste less than crisp. If you don’t have room in your icebox, drop some ice into the glass, swirl it around, and let it sit while you are mixing the drink. For hot drinks, warm a mug with boiling water.


A drink should be multi-dimensional. You want to taste all of your ingredients without any one component overpowering the others. To get your proportions right, use a jigger (we like OXO). Then, measure out your cheapest ingredient first—it may be lemon juice, or it may be vermouth. That way, if you make a mistake and need to start over, you won’t have to toss out precious spirits. Remember to always taste before serving (dip in a straw if the drink is for someone else) to ensure the drink is balanced.


A twist, a flamed peel, or a wheel of citrus doesn’t just add to the visual appeal of the drink, it also contributes aromatics and flavor. That first sip is all about smell—a whiff of lime, a hint of cucumber. For more on garnishes and to learn how to make them, see page 264.


We know it can be daunting to flip through pages of recipes, trying to figure out how many different bottles you’ll need before you host friends. Don’t panic. A bar should grow like a library, which is to say a few bottles at a time. If you’re just starting out, here’s a trick we use when we throw open our doors for cocktail hour: pick two star recipes—one crisp, the other brooding. The first recipe will satisfy drinkers who simply want something light and refreshing (read: clear spirits). The second recipe will appeal to those who favor something a bit richer (read: brown spirits).

Once you have your two recipes, fill in around the edges with soda water, vermouth, and some bubbly. These can also be used to build additional drinks. The French 75 and the Boulevardier are two of our favorite party drinks. Once you buy gin, bourbon, and Campari, you only need a couple of additions (sparkling wine, sweet vermouth, and lemons) to get started. From two featured drinks you can make many more—see the list below. For example:

French 75 (page 60): 1 ounce gin, ½ ounce lemon juice, ½ ounce simple syrup (page 241), 4 ounces Champagne

Boulevardier (page 88): 2 ounces bourbon, 1 ounce Campari, 1 ounce sweet vermouth




• Plan on roughly three drinks for each guest (guests typically consume two drinks in the first hour, and one drink each hour after).

• Each 750-ml bottle of alcohol will yield about fifteen cocktails.

• For ice, plan on two pounds per guest.



Gin | Bourbon | Campari

Sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica)

Lemons | Demerara sugar (for simple syrup)

Champagne (crémant or Gruet will do)

Soda water



Add powdered sugar and soda water to make a Gin Fizz (page 42).

Add ginger beer and Angostura bitters, and you can make a Kentucky Buck (page 176).

Add Angostura bitters and sugar cubes for a bourbon Old Fashioned (page 28) or a Champagne Cocktail (page 205).

Add maraschino cherries, and you can make a bourbon variation on a Manhattan (page 41).

Add tonic water and lime for a Gin and Tonic (page 167).

Add orange wedges, and you can make a Negroni (page 91) or Americano (page 33).

Add honey to make a Bee’s Knees (page 85).

Add mint, and you can make a Mint Julep (page 171).

Add an egg, and you can serve a Whiskey Sour (page 129).

For more, see our index of drinks based on specific spirits (page 271).


We like to drink cocktails with food, or before or after a meal. This runs counter to much of the traditional wisdom that says cocktails fatigue the palate. We beg to differ. In fact, there may be no better way to whet the appetite. Whenever we fix a few drinks, we inevitably set out a few nibbles and start cooking. Here are a few tips we’ve learned about sloshing and noshing.

Pair acidic food with citrusy cocktails. Acid likes acid. In other words, if you’re serving a salad with vinaigrette, pair a bright, lemony cocktail alongside it.

Bold cocktails offset other bold flavors. Try a Toronto (page 117) and a hunk of Stilton. The intensity of the drink and the cheese stand up to one another and round each other out.

Beware of rich on rich. We’ve been to cocktail-pairing dinners where there’s a sumptuous cognac-based cocktail paired with foie gras. It’s just too much richness together. Take the opposite tack, and contrast the richness of duck liver with a crisp fruit- or citrus-forward drink.

Work the herbaceous flavor bridge. Try serving an herb-heavy cocktail alongside a dish that contains complementary herbs. Common kitchen garden herbs like rosemary, basil, and mint can meld food and drink to form mutually enhancing flavors. For instance, serve pesto with a Gin Basil Smash (page 142).

Don’t upstage the food. At a dinner party, consider choosing low-proof cocktails (page 231) made with wine, sherry, or beer. They will be enchanting background sippers for a wide selection of foods.




Gin-based cocktails work beautifully with meat-and-cheese boards or other starters. Herbaceous notes cleanse and refresh the palate, making a Martini (page 46) a lovely alternative to wine when you’re snacking on fatty foods. Next time you serve charcuterie or pâté, try the Hi Ho Cocktail (page 103).

Bright, citrusy drinks love seafood. Next time you’re serving grilled fish, ceviche, or a plate of oysters, pick a cocktail with plenty of lemon or lime. Whip up a Bramble (page 178) with seafood paella.

Big brown liquor-based drinks with flavors of caramel, raisins, and toffee go with roasted meats and can work with grilled vegetables, especially those on the sweet side (yams, acorn squash, etc.). Try a Saratoga (page 41).

Sweeter cocktails offset the intensity of salty and spicy foods. Try a Cuba Libre (page 109) or an Old Fashioned (page 28) with bar snacks or a Reuben sandwich. Make a Rum Runner (page 188) with Thai green curry. Check out our Tiki Takeout cocktail list (page 191).

Bitter drinks, such as those containing amaro or Campari, are versatile aperitifs and digestifs—perfect for complementing or contrasting flavors. Explore them with melon, meats, sandwiches, even dessert. Also, consider drinks with a touch of bitterness when serving greasy and salty foods, such as a burger and fries.



Tastes have changed over the centuries of cocktail-making, and in keeping with modern practices we’ve updated many of the recipes in this book to reflect a contemporary palate.

Sugar has been reduced or eliminated completely when it has been feasible to do so. When we do use it, we like to use unrefined sugars or honey. See specific sweetener notes on pages 256 and 257.

Base spirits are emphasized, not just fillers. With today’s high-quality artisanal liquors, cocktailers want all the flavors and elements to be detectable. For instance, see our re-balanced Last Word (page 85) and Negroni (page 91).

Bitter is in, thanks to artisan bitters, amari, Aperol, and Campari. For an alluring gateway to this flavor profile, fix an Intro to Aperol (page 165), and check out our bitter-forward list of cocktails (page 228).

Drink portions are manageable. As chef Thomas Keller argues, there’s a law of diminishing returns to every dish—the more bites you take of it, the less exciting it becomes. Same with drinks. Many of the recipes in this book are 3 to 4 ounces. Make a few of them, rather than one gonzo cocktail. Beware that many kitchen stores still sell oversize martini glasses. See our glassware recommendations (page 255).

We list specific brands for our cocktail recipes, not as an endorsement but to provide recipes that work. There are just too many options on today’s market to not be specific—note that if you use different bottles, recipes may need adjusting. We arrived at our choices through research, recommendations, and trial and error—always searching for good value bottles in each category. We do not have relationships with any of the brands we mention. While we strongly encourage you to seek out small, handcrafted liquor made in your state, we opted for quality brands with wide distribution.




       Drinking has always been a part of American culture, from communal punches served in colonial taverns to Gold Rush bars and tobacco-stained saloons in which mixed drinks blossomed. During the second half of the nineteenth century, innovation drove the cocktail—advances such as refrigeration, carbonation, and water filtration spurred creativity and ushered in a world of novel, made-to-order libations. Hotel bars like New York’s Hoffman House offered sumptuous seating and a lineup of seventeen bartenders furiously shaking drinks to the entertainment of customers. Americans fell hard for tinkling player pianos, handlebar mustaches, and elaborate menus filled with exotic names: the Bijou (page 51), Moral Suasion (page 34), and the East India (page 44).

The first cocktail book, How to Mix Drinks: Or, the Bon Vivant’s Companion, appeared in 1862—a handy tome penned by a relentlessly enterprising bartender named Jerry Thomas. His drinks featured fresh citrus and seasonal berries, along with notes on proper technique. This uniquely American phenomenon, which combined ice and new implements such as the straw and shaker, raised eyebrows throughout the world.

As you drink your way through this chapter, you’ll discover the first drink to use fresh citrus, the appearance of the straw, and the creative presentation of cocktails such as the feathery Ramos Gin Fizz (page 43) and the bejeweled Knickerbocker (page 32).




Originally concocted as medicinal tinctures, bitters flourished in the early nineteenth century, when it was common to step into an apothecary for a tipple. They are potent additions to cocktails—a little goes a long way—but they bring balance and complexity to a drink. Think of them as the cocktailer’s spice cabinet.

Over the last decade, there’s been a resurgence in artisan bitters, with brands such as The Bitter Truth, Bittermens, Bittercube, Dram, and Bittered Sling Extracts appearing on liquor store shelves and in bars. Serious bartenders, many of whom are closet mad scientists, often concoct their own bitters by macerating plant materials in alcohol, especially for seasonal drinks that might benefit from a touch of rhubarb, blood orange, or winter mint. See our bitters master recipe (page 252).

For a quick stomach soother, add a few drops of bitters to a glass of sparkling water after a large meal or before bed.

Commonly used bitters and their flavor profiles:

ANGOSTURA: Grapefruity, smoky, and herbaceous with holiday spice notes, especially clove. Dark brown in color.

PEYCHAUD’S: Sweeter than Angostura with notes of cherry, anise, nutmeg, licorice, and clove. Bright red in color and used in classic New Orleans drinks, like the Sazerac (page 37).

ORANGE BITTERS: Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6 are widely distributed and are dry and astringent with a honeyed-orange flavor. Nearly neutral in color.


Citrus, caramel, spice

With its sugared rim and eye-catching garnish, this is a fetching conversation piece for an intimate gathering or formal affair. The orange and caramel notes here play beautifully off of grilled meats, especially barbecued ribs.

Lurching out of the past with elegance and ornament, the Brandy Crusta is one of the few drinks that is fully garnished before the cocktail is completed. This is the first cocktail made with fresh citrus juice—and it changed everything. Before the Crusta, only citrus rinds were used in fashioning drinks. It speaks across time of craft and class, elements that are hallmarks of today’s drink-makers who emphasize proper pours and a touch of panache. Jerry Thomas picked this one up from a fellow bartender in New Orleans. Many recipes call for the addition of maraschino liqueur, and we think it’s better this way, adding depth.

Note: The Crusta’s grandchild, the Sidecar (page 60), emerges around WWI.



  • "Everything you need to know about throwing a successful cocktail party is in this new book."—-Los Angeles Times
  • "Frustrated with encyclopedic but poorly organized collections that overwhelmed all but the professional bartender, they offer a manual for those wishing to bring the craft cocktail movement home...a great addition for all collections."—-Library Journal
  • "I haven't been able to put it down. Is it odd to read a recipe book as if it were a novel?"—-San Diego Magazine
  • "Who it's for: The home bartender that can't decide on what to drink. This book has a little bit of everything, and with eye-catching photos, you'll want it all."—
  • "Individuality is part of this book's charm, much like its ode to an underappreciated ingredient, Dubonnet. The greater success of The New Cocktail Hour is its ability to be many things to a variety of readers and still stand out from the pile of cocktail copycats as both useful and different."

    -The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • "The New Cocktail Hour can help you choose a drink with confidence.... Elevate your craft with DIY bitters, the right tools and glassware, no-fail cocktail ratios and the art of the garnish, all explained in this latest cocktail book. It may be new, but it is destined to be a classic."

    -Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • "Sized to fit on a shelf in your bar, the book has a slightly snarky, humorous tone that makes it an easy read. And the fascinating bits of history will make great cocktail party fodder. ... This new volume is a suitable gift for a recent college grad with a taste for craft cocktails."—-The Virginian-Pilot
  • "The lavishly photographed book is quite the entertaining read, but its smaller format means that it belongs on the shelf with your liquor, not on the coffee table. As a witty guide to the history and practice of making great cocktails, The New Cocktail Hour is a great addition to the canon of spirits writing."

    -Nashville Scene
  • "An impressively curated inventory of cocktails both old and new with inspired tweaks to some overlooked classics."—-Gear Patrol

On Sale
Apr 26, 2016
Page Count
304 pages
Running Press

Tenaya Darlington

About the Author

Tenaya Darlington serves as Cheese Director for two wine bars in Philadelphia, both called Tria, and is a member of the writing faculty at Saint Joseph’s University. When she’s not teaching cheese workshops under the name “Madame Fromage,” you can find her circumnavigating the globe as a guide for Cheese Journeys — a dairy-centric food tour company. She is also the author of Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese and co-author of four cocktail books, including Booze and Vinyl, written in collaboration with her spirits-expert brother, André Darlington. Her writing has appeared in Cooking Light, The Philadelphia Inquirer, EdiblePhilly, Fermentation, and Culture Magazine. You can find her on social media as @mmefromage

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Author André Darlington

André Darlington

About the Author

André Darlington is the author of Bar Menu and Booze Cruise, among many other food and drink titles, as well as the co-author of Booze & Vinyl, The New Cocktail Hour, and Movie Night Menus. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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