Why are good, simple cocktails so hard to get right? Guides to creating them are numerous these days, but each one, it seems, obfuscates the goal with rare liqueurs, homemade infusions (that takes days to make) or homemade bitters (weeks). Not so with Schiller's Liquor Bar Cocktail Collection, a new, tiny boxed set of cocktail instruction from restaurateur Keith McNally's New York bar and restaurant of the same name. Comprised of four slim volumes — one each for Classic Cocktails, Artisanal Updates, Seasonal Drinks, and a Bartender's Guide to techniques, glassware and the like — this new cocktail guide offers brief recipes and solid advice without a lot of fuss. Are there recipes for homemade tinctures? Sure. Are they necessary ingredients for most of the drinks? Generally, substitutions are provided.
Writes McNally in the introduction, "I wanted a bar that was cheap, raw, and attractive to deadbeats like myself." While the Cocktail Collection isn't really cheap, raw, or aimed at deadbeats — and quite frankly, neither is Schiller's — it is a minimalist, no-nonsense guide to solid drinks. Other books may be go-to guides for elaborate mixology; Schiller's is what you'll reach for when you want to make a decent Manhattan. When the book was first announced, Eater co-founder Lockhart Steele described the atmosphere at Schiller's: "They know the regulars and they know your drink and even at midnight when the room's overflowing with beautiful people they pick you out of the crowd and make sure you get what you want." Now, with the Cocktail Collection, you can recreate the drinks, at least, at home. Schiller's Liquor Bar Cocktail Collection is out today from Clarkson Potter (order on Amazon). Below, take a look.