The Basics Tips & Tricks

This Cocktail Manual Is Filled with Fast Facts

Plus seven foolproof takes on the Highball.

A book without page numbers? Brilliant. Cocktails without recipes? Even better.

At first, leafing through "The Complete Cocktail Manual: 285 Tips, Tricks & Recipes" (Weldon Owen, $29), a new book by San Francisco cocktail and spirits writer Lou Bustamante, it’s a little disorienting to realize that there are no page numbers. Instead, the book—the only one written in conjunction with the United States Bartenders’ Guild—is an amalgam of facts, recipes and techniques, apportioned into easy-to-read chunks. Each of these nuggets is numbered, whether that means one or several per page (285 in all, as the subtitle says).

Lou Bustamante.

The end result is that you can open it up to pretty much any page and quickly learn something new, often sourced from bartending pros. That’s a pretty neat trick. An array of flow charts and tables also help you find what you need, fast. One of the handy little tables provides a guide to mixing sodas and spirits into highballs, with only the loosest of instructions.

“The basic ratio is one part liquor to two parts soda,” advises Bustamante, but customization is thoroughly encouraged. “On hot days, often the best balance can be closer to three parts soda for one of liquor, making it more refreshing without overdiluting the spirit.” The classic G&T especially benefits from a heavier hand on the tonic water, he says.

From the Cuba Libre (rum and cola, plus a squeeze of lime) to the Paloma (tequila and grapefruit soda, plus pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime) and the classic Whiskey Highball (Japanese whisky and club soda), take a look at the table above for a primer on mixing these bubbly libations with ease.