Disclosure: This is an honest review written by us based on our experience using this book to make cocktails. Although we were not compensated to write this review, this post contains affiliate links. See our disclosure policy here.
About The Book
Steve The Bartender’s Cocktail Guide: Tools • Techniques • Recipes, written by Steven Roennfeldt, a popular YouTuber known as “Steve The Bartender,” is a 300-page recipe book filled with about a hundred classic cocktail recipes that Steve recommends.
The recipes included in this book are divided into categories by base spirit—Aperitivo, Whiskey, Gin, Rum, Tequila & Mezcal, Brandy, Vodka, Fortified Wine, and Liqueur—so you can easily choose which you want to try based on your experience or mood.
• 125 cocktail recipes with ingredient lists, methods, and brief descriptions of each cocktail
• Simple, crisp photos of all cocktails
• An introduction written by the author Steven Roennfeldt
• A brief history of cocktails with a timeline
• A description of each cocktail family
• A list of base spirits, liqueurs, and bar tools the author recommends for stocking your home bar
• A collection of homemade syrup and mixer recipes
• A glassware guide with illustrations and descriptions of each type
• A section explaining each different method of making cocktails
• A table of contents that includes page numbers for the beginning of the book’s nine sections and each cocktail recipe
• An alphabetical list of cocktail names with page numbers
• An index with cocktail names and ingredients
What We Liked
Here’s what we liked about this cocktail recipe book:
Book Size: It’s common for cocktail recipe books to be printed in smaller formats and have no more than about 100 pages nowadays. By comparison, Steve’s book is nearly triple the length, coming in at about 300 pages, so it offers significantly more recipes than most books. In our opinion, that makes it a really complete and extremely helpful resource, especially if you’re new to the craft cocktail world.
Introduction: Steve’s recipe book includes a far more robust introduction than most. This section, meant to be educational for newbie imbibers, includes a brief history of cocktails, an illustrated glassware guide, and syrup recipes, as many books do, but Steve’s also includes an interesting description of the various cocktail families and specific ingredient recommendations for stocking your home bar.
Table of Contents: Many cocktail books arrange their table of contents by either method or type of drink, but Steve’s is organized by base spirit, which we really liked. In our experience trying cocktails from books, we’ve found it far more beneficial when recipes are organized this way because we’re usually seeking out drinks made with a specific spirit. It’s nice to be able to quickly reference a list of all of the book’s gin drinks, for example, instead of having to page through every section to find them.
Ingredient Accessibility: Because Steve’s book focuses on classic cocktails, the majority of the ingredients used in each recipe are common enough to find in most liquor stores. We were thrilled that, throughout our tastings using this book, there were very few obscure ingredients we had to buy, only to have them end up collecting dust on a shelf after one or two uses.
Variety of Recipes: It was obvious that Steve put a lot of thought into how many recipes made using each spirit and method were chosen. His book includes a really great mix of cocktails, so there’s something new and interesting for everyone to try.
Recipe Page Design: Of the cocktail books we own, Steve’s recipe layout has become one of our favorites. Its design is minimalist in the best way but still lists all of the basic data points you’d want to know about the drink: its name, approximate origin year, type, method, glassware, and garnish, a short description, and, of course, the ingredient list and directions.
Recipe Tips: Along with the basic details about each cocktail, all of the recipe pages include unique tips or fun facts to help the reader make the recipe more palatable if they found it too bitter or to create variations with other ingredients, for example. We enjoyed reading those and thought they added another layer of fun to our experience using Steve’s book to make drinks.
QR Codes: We’d never seen this before: Steve’s book shows a unique QR code on each recipe page that you can scan with your smartphone’s camera to pull up the corresponding video showing himself mixing the drink. We thought that was cool considering YouTube is main method of sharing recipes.
Photography: We’ve tasted our way through many cocktail books now and have noticed it’s pretty common for photos of some recipes to be omitted. When that happens, we usually end up having to do a quick internet search for the drink to see if we made it correctly. From what we could tell, Steve’s book pairs every recipe with its corresponding photo so it’s really obvious how the finished product should look. We really appreciated that.
Multiple Indexes: Another first we’ve seen in cocktail books, Steve’s included not one but two recipe indexes at the end. The first was a helpful list of the cocktails arranged by alphabetical order, and the second was a classic index that listed ingredients arranged by alphabetical order with the cocktails that use beneath each one. We found ourselves searching for cocktails with both when tasting our way through this book and loved that we had that option.
What We Disliked
Here’s what we didn’t like as much about this cocktail recipe book:
There was honestly nothing about this recipe book that we didn’t like.
If we had to nitpick, we could see someone used to drinking vodka or tequila cocktails, which is what most people start out with, getting less use out of Steve’s book than others because it includes far more whiskey, gin, and rum cocktails compared to recipes made with the aforementioned spirits.
We could also see some people passing up Steve’s book because the cover shows a photo of himself in his iconic smile and shake pose. We were already fans of his YouTube channel before receiving a copy, so adding his book to our collection probably meant more to us than it would to someone who doesn’t already know who he is, even though he’s certainly worth following, in our opinion.
Who Should Buy This Book
In our opinion, Steve The Bartender’s Cocktail Guide: Tools • Techniques • Recipes is best for readers who:
• Are new to making craft cocktails and need a thorough guide on how to get started
• Want to explore classic cocktails
• Are open to trying lots of whiskey, gin, and rum recipes
• Want to learning basic bartending skills
• Are already a fan of Steve The Bartender’s YouTube channel
Although written by a popular YouTuber with whom some still may not be familiar, this book is a truly excellent and well-written resource for craft cocktail enthusiasts. Its recipes are also a thoughtfully-curated mix of classics everyone should try at least once, in our opinion. Most of the cocktails Steve chose to include did end up being more palatable to Alex, who is the more experienced drinker of the two of us, but Kendall found several new recipes she enjoyed too, especially in the gin and rum sections. Overall, we both thought this book was wonderful and expect it would quickly become a beloved addition to any cocktail book collection.
Our Favorite Cocktails
These are the recipes we liked most from this cocktail book:
Eastside: A gin cocktail made with lime juice, simple syrup, cucumber slices, mint leaves, and a mint sprig
Charlie Chaplin: A sloe gin cocktail made with apricot liqueur and lime juice
Enzoni: A gin cocktail made with Campari, lemon juice, simple syrup, and green grapes
East 8 Hold Up: A vodka cocktail made with pineapple juice, Aperol, lime juice, simple syrup, passion fruit syrup, a mint sprig, and a passion fruit
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