Sunday, February 3

Infused Book Review: The New Old Bar by The Hearty Boys

Everything trends, and what once was old is new again – that is particularly true with cocktails. Where you once would slip onto a bar stool and ask for a Sex on the Beach or some other flashy, brightly-colored, 80s-style drink, nowadays you can find patrons asking for a Tom Collins, Old-Fashioned, or some other throwback to an earlier era known as Pre-Prohibition.

"The New Old Bar" is written by Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith (aka The Hearty Boys), who fell in love with old school drinks at right about the same time as everyone else in the nation. Luckily, unlike everyone else, they wrote a book about it offering 200 recipes, nibblers and tips for the aspiring home bartender.

Numerous well-known drinks are included such as the Sidecar and Gimlet, as are drinks with varying quantities of ingredients. The Dark and Stormy has but two, while the Celery Mary has a lengthy eight.

Would I recommend this to a budding home bartender? Absolutely not. I am not certain I would recommend this to even a second-level home bartender, as there are layered drinks which take practice and a delicate touch. Nor do I believe I would recommend this to the budget-conscious home bartender: the included inventory of must-have liquors is a lengthy list consisting of four or five gins, three rums and five whiskies, and much more. There is also an expectation one will be comfortable making syrups, fancy garnishes, and shrubs.


Remember the Sears & Roebuck Wish Book that came out every holiday season? You would curl up with it and mark the pages of all the toys you hoped Mom and Dad would notice and buy for you? This book could be entitled the "To Aspire List" instead.
When one reaches a certain level of expertise, it’s easy to forget the basic level of the novice. I had a Geology 101 professor in college who was a seismology expert, flown all over the globe for his opinion. He couldn't even remember basic geology, let alone have empathy for the novice. I don't believe this book is quite that daunting, but certainly I can see a beginner becoming discouraged over attempting to float liqueurs over the back of a spoon and using a match to draw the oils from citrus for a drink.

However, for the person who has mastered the basics, and found a desire to create their own secondary items, accumulate gadgets for their bar and want to impress guests, then this is the book to buy. McDonagh and Smith share tricks, tips and history to make lasting impressions with cocktails and fun bar food.

Bottom Line: "The New Old Bar Book" brings Pre-Prohibition cocktails to the forefront with style for the cocktail enthusiast with a desire to take it to the next level.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at and and catch her as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC. Gotta Go is published on,, an in print. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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