Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Tale


A Bartender's Tale

by Toby Cecchini


A beautiful cocktail is like a beautiful man. It's mysterious, it makes you salivate, and you can't help but devour it, but do your best to show some restraint. Just like I've always wanted to be a good lover and a good cook, I'm extremely envious of people who create an incredible cocktail. A bartender who can effortlessly produce an idyllic melding of syrups, fruit, mint, ice, and booze is to me, as valuable as a trustworthy mechanic, or an insightful therapist.

Toby Cecchini, author of Cosmopolitan, is a lifetime bartender. He takes his job as seriously as any lawyer, and is something of a brain surgeon when it comes to making drinks. He describes how he delicately dances lemon oil across the top of a Negroni, how he marinates fresh cherries in bourbon for his Manhattan, and how he himself created the recipe for the modern day Cosmopolitan. He's a complete drink snob who actually isn't much of a drinker himself, and he's part owner of the bar Passerby in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood.

Reading about Cecchini experimenting with liquors, choosing glassware for his bar, hiring DJs, negotiating with cops, urging naked women to get dressed, and even physically abusing customers, is as exciting as any erotica. Every evening he fights back crowds of inconsiderate, thirsty, and horny customers, all the while meticulously fashioning mojitos, old fashions, and sidecars. He works not only with speed, but integrity, while still managing to ridicule the clientele under his breath.

Cecchini gives us a fascinating account of his career in the service industry, with vivid anecdotes about tables full of women drinking $300 champagne, slimy media men who are just out to swindle a drink, and a New Year's Eve party that goes completely berserk. He is proud to be a bartender, and it seems like a lot of the reason he wrote this book was to demonstrate the nobility and difficulty of his profession (and that he's more than just a drink-maker--he can write a novel), and he succeeds. Not only is Cosmopolitan a salaciously voyeuristic and visceral read, it'll make you idolize your favorite local bartender even more than you already do. KATIE SHIMER


A Bartender's Tale


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