The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender's Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy

The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide from the Celebrated Speakeasy

Beautifully illustrated, beautifully designed, and beautifully crafted–just like its namesake–this is the ultimate bar book by NYC’s most meticulous bartender.
To say that PDT is a unique bar is an understatement. It recalls the era of hidden Prohibition speakeasies: to gain access, you walk into a raucous hot dog stand, step into a phone booth, and get permission to enter the serene cocktail lounge. Now, Jim Meehan, PDT’s innovative operator and mixmaster, is revolutionizing bar books, too, offering all 304 cocktail recipes available at PDT plus behind-the-scenes secrets. From his bar design, tools, and equipment to his techniques, food, and spirits, it’s all here, stunningly illustrated by Chris Gall.


  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling Epicure; 53771st edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402779232
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402779237
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
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  1. A lot of cocktail books are published every year, some of them containing thousands of recipes, some of them focusing on only a few dozen. Many of these books aren’t especially useful, presenting recipes chosen with little care or attention to detail. With books like that, it’s caveat emptor and bibitor.

    Not so with Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book, an essential volume from one of the cocktail world’s brightest stars. Meehan is the manager of PDT, one of New York’s most celebrated cocktail bars. Prior to that he worked under Audrey Sanders at Pegu Club. His credentials are impeccable.

    As soon as you pick it up, you know this is a quality book; substantial and well bound, with thick glossy paper. The illustrations (by Chris Gall) are bright, colorful, whimsical and eye-catching.

    The PDT Cocktail Book shares Meehan’s advice on designing a bar, stocking spirits and choosing the right ingredients and glassware, along with his tips and techniques for properly mixing drinks. A novice mixologist can pick up this book and gain a solid introduction to the subject, even if they have little or no knowledge to begin with. But the experienced bartender will also find much to learn from here.

    The heart of The PDT Cocktail Book is, of course, the drinks. It contains over 300 recipes: about half of them original drinks served at PDT, along with many classic cocktails, plus some new suggestions from friends and colleagues. This isn’t a hodgepodge of random recipes either. These are hand-picked and tested; the real drinks as served in a world-class bar.

    The ingredients and instructions for each drink are clearly spelled out. But Meehan goes one step further, including (where possible) the provenance of the drink, giving credit to the person who invented it.Read more ›

  2. I am a big fan of Meehan’s, and I was very excited to see this volume published. Meehan’s is one of the most authoritative and inventive voices on the subject of cocktails, both classic and modern, and this entry into the crowded world of cocktail books is decidedly highly anticipated.

    To be fair, this is, undoubtedly, an excellent cocktail book. It contains interesting twists on some classic staples (Benton’s Old-Fashioned, with bacon-infused bourbon, por ejemplo) as well as some interesting original concoctions from the PDT menu. Some of the boutique items, such as complicated syrups and infused versions of liquors, have detailed instructions on how to go about making your own version at home — which is quite thoughtful and a mitzvah. The illustrations are whimsical and fun, and the book has the feel of something worth having — it is nicely bound and solid in a way that few books are these days. It even has a nice satin-feeling bookmark so you don’t have to dog-ear pages to remember where you want to go for the next round once you’re a few drinks in.

    There are, however, several downsides to this book, in my opinion. First, and probably most relevant, is that specific makes and models are suggested for each liquor in each drink. This would be fine, if the authors indicated the rationale for the suggested bottle and provided some guidance on substitution suggestions. Because they fail to explain WHY they choose a specific vintage (Beefeater gin for this drink, Hayman’s Old Tom for that one), the reader is left with the impression that one needs 30 different bottles of gin to make 30 different drinks.Read more ›

  3. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: this book is beautiful, with an extensive list of drinks and an enviable pedigree. Regardless of anything else I write in this review, this is a lovely gift for anyone even vaguely interested in the cocktail arts.

    But I must admit that my initial reaction was a sigh. I received the book as a gift and immediately started flipping through to see the recipes, only to find a plethora of prescribed brands and obscure ingredients. It was disheartening.

    At first. What I realized later was that I’d been hoping for a true beginner’s cocktail book, something of a primer with flexibility in ingredient choice. And for that purpose, I can’t really recommend the PDT book. It’s advanced – delightfully so – but it will be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t already know their way around the classics (and some popular moderns, too).

    However, as an intermediate or advanced cocktail book, the PDT book is wonderful. It really introduces you to a new suite of ingredients and the brand specifics do act as a nice starting point for the recipes. I think substitutions and suggestions would have been nice or, at the very least, some reasons for why the specific brands were picked, but that’s excusable due to inventiveness of the recipes.

    TL;DR – This is a great book, but it’s not an appropriate first for an aspiring cocktailian to build their basic repertoire. For that, go check out The Joy of Mixology instead. Nevertheless, the PDT book DOES have a place on every bartender’s bookshelf for when the basics just don’t cut it anymore.

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