Book Review: Employees Only’s “Speakeasy”

By Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric
This cocktail book comes from owners of New York’s hugely successful Employees Only – a modern speakeasy style venue. This bar is very special to me because it was one of the first bars that I visited when I moved to NYC and helped me put the art of mixing drinks into perspective. There you could see all the elements of a great cocktail bar in sync. No matter how busy and packed the place could get, the bartenders always executed perfectly their drinks. EO owns the bragging rights to be one of the first speakeasy theme bars that appeared in NYC, but that hasn’t been an excuse for their bartenders to be snobs and find any opportunity to lecture there guest with the drink choices they make, on the contrary the atmosphere is always loose and fun. One of the things I’m greatfull with this bar is the pride this bartenders have of their craft and profession, very inspiring for bartenders like me.
The Book opens with words from Dale DeGroff on how he met the guys behind EO when they were just a couple of eager bartenders working at Keith McNally”s Pravda in SoHo back in the late 90’s.
The book explains very carefully:
How they reimagined and reinterpreted the classic cocktails adapting them to a comptemporary palet;
The importance of the quality of the ingredients that are going to determine the final cocktail making sure they are seasonal, fresh and local steering away from commercially processed ingredients such as sour mixes, margarita mixes and neon red grenadine. And the craftmanship of balancing and adding depth to a cocktail.
The meat of the book is their signature recipes that are explained right next to the classic recipe that inspired it. The first category of drinks are the apperitiffs among them the Campari Spitz, Negroni and my favorite of this category the “Tifozi” a bitter, sweet, sour and fizzy drink that combines Campari, punt e Mes, limes and San Pellegrino Aranciata.
The second category of drinks in this book are the Long drinks and Fancy Cocktails, among the recipes are the Amelia, The Billionaire cocktail and the Roselle a cocktail that utilises Gin, home made Hibiscus cordial, fresh lime and grapefruit juice.
In the third category they teach us how to make their signature Punches and Sangrias.
But the coolest part about this book is that the authers are generous enough to print their secret recipes on how to make their home made spicy ginger beer, wild strawberry cordial, hibiscus cordial, chai infused vermouth, absinthe bitters among other recipes. Just for this the book is worth buying.

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