How To Cocktail

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Cocktail making is part art and part science—just like cooking.

The first-ever cocktail book from America’s most-trusted test kitchen includes essential, canonical classics; twists on old favorites; and brand-new test kitchen creations. The recipes are organized by technique (stirring, shaking, muddling, blending, and more), with plenty of recipe step photos to light your way. For those who love a great DIY project, we offer up superior versions of vermouths, liqueurs, bitters, flavored syrups, and garnishes. Best of all, we’ve solved practical challenges such as how to make a wide array of cocktails without buying lots of obscure bottles or specialty equipment. Also packed inside: recipes for heavenly snacks to serve alongside cocktails. Perfect for beginners and more experienced cocktail builders alike, this handsome hardcover book with beautiful photography makes a great gift (for yourself and your cocktail-loving friends).

Some of the recipes you’ll find inside:

  • Fancy Free
  • Fireside
  • Manhattan
  • French Kiss
  • Mojito
  • Celery Gimlet
  • Bubbles and Blooms
  • Mint Julep
Big Batch
  • Classic Sangria
  • House Punch
  • Milk Punch
  • Eggnog
  • Sidecar
  • Mai Tai
  • Espresso Martini
  • Daiguiri
  • Bourbon-Cherry Slush
  • Florentine Freeze
  • Chocolate-Amaretto Milkshakes
  • Frozen Hurricanes
  • Spiced Nuts
  • Spicey Whipped Feta
  • Asparagus Puffs
  • Herbed Spinach Dip

Spotlight Classics & ATK Originals 

A closeup of a glass of aperol spritz garnished with two olivesA closeup of a glass of aperol spritz garnished with two olives
Aperol Spritz

This Italian aperitivi or pre-dinner cocktail, carries just the right balance between bitter and sweet. This fizzy drink is among the most beautiful with its fiery sunset orange hue.

Garnishes for the Aperol spritz can be subject for passionate debate. In the test kitchen, we appreciated the intriguing salty note of a couple of green olives brought to the cocktail.

An Old Fashioned cocktail in a glassAn Old Fashioned cocktail in a glass

There are many versions of this classic cocktail. Recipes call for muddling sugar cubes and fruit in the bottom of the glass, but sugar cube size varies, so using simple syrup instead ensures consistency of flavor and prevents gritty undissolved sugar.

A side view of a dark and stormy in a tall glassA side view of a dark and stormy in a tall glass
Dark And Stormy

As the story goes, this sweet-spicy cocktails' name originated when a sailor commented that the combination of black (the "dark") and the ginger beer (the "stormy") looked like "the colour of a cloud that only a fool or a dead man would sail under."

We recommend Black Seal Rum here due to its intense color and uniquely deep, burnt sugar-like flavor.

An overhead closeup of a lime garnish in a tumbleweed cocktailAn overhead closeup of a lime garnish in a tumbleweed cocktail

A sweet-spicy-sour riff on a classic margarita which is usually made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. We swap out orange liqueur for mild smoky ancho liqueur and add guava nectar which has a tangy flavor with hints of pear, grapefruit, and strawberry. Garnish with our Smoky Chili Rim Sugar (or simply used granulated sugar).

Editorial Reviews

"Foolproof and high proof, this thoroughly researched and easy to follow volume will steady the hand of any home mixologist."
-Publisher's Weekly

"Fledgling bartenders should run, not walk, to borrow the first cocktail-focused guide from America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). Without a doubt, it’s one of the most comprehensive introductions to a centuries-old art and science, beginning with nearly 10 critical principles of cocktailing, such as using higher-quality ingredients and always measuring (never just eyeballing it)."

"As their name suggests, the folks at America’s Test Kitchen are sticklers about testing recipes, and their first-ever cocktail book takes the same rigorous approach. Organized by method of mixing, How to Cocktail not only offers up a slew of classic recipes and a handful of originals, but also explains how to properly use bar tools, breaks down the most common base spirits and mixers, and provides instructions for DIY syrups and infusions. It’s a perfect beginner’s guide for the cocktail-curious."

"The team at America's Test Kitchen has finally brought their thoughtful, stright-forward, obsessively-tested sensibility to the world of tipples with this instructive cocktail tome. Not only does it cover all of the basic cocktail techniques and gear you'll need to perfect both classic and experimental cocktails from the book, it's also packed with recipes for syrups, liqueurs, garnishes, and tons of handy tips and tricks to take your home cocktail game up a notch."

"America’s Test Kitchen has finally come out with an encouraging bar manual that’s as trustworthy as its cookbooks. Packed with straightforward, unromantic, no-nonsense information, this technique-driven tome offers perfect clarity for the home bartender."
-Chicago Tribune

"A thorough and helpful introduction to cocktail making from the perspective of the home cook."
-Library Journal

"How to Cocktail is a road map for the curious.."
-Wall Street Journal

“How to Cocktail” (America’s Test Kitchen, 262 pages, $24.99) is written by the earnest experimenters at America’s Test Kitchen, which has produced dozens of cookbooks written in the no-nonsense approach of a high-school chemistry lab manual. “We start the process of testing a recipe with a complete lack of preconceptions,” they write by way of introduction, “which means that we accept no claim, no technique, and no recipe at face value.”
-Wall Street Journal


Recipes: 150
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Item Number: CQ26
Item Weight: 2.1 pounds

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Mastering Cocktail Garnishes

A side view of citrus being squeezed into a cocktail A side view of citrus being squeezed into a cocktail
A Simple Citrus Peel

Hold a citrus strip horizontal, pith side facing you, near the surface of your cocktail. Pinch the zest to express oils onto the cocktail and then rub the outer edge of the glass with the peel.

A twisted lemon garnish being placed on top of a cocktail A twisted lemon garnish being placed on top of a cocktail
Impressive Garnish Twist

Use a channel knife to remove 3- to 4-inch strands from the citrus of your choice. To garnish, curl strand tightly to establish a uniform twist and then place in or on the edge of the glass.

Someone using a lime slice to coat the rim of a cocktail glassSomeone using a lime slice to coat the rim of a cocktail glass
Rim Your Glass

Dip your cocktail glass into lemon or lime juice for a kick. This will allow the salt and sugar to also adhere to the rim of your glass.

Someone coating the rim of a cocktail glass with saltSomeone coating the rim of a cocktail glass with salt
Salty or Sweet

Spread kosher salt or sugar into an even layer on a small plate. Generously roll the moistened rim into salt or sugar to coat evenly.