Con Job

Add Tony Conigliaro's Drinks to your bookshelf

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Tony Conigliaro's approach to cocktails might seem erudite at first.

The famed bartender of London's nameless bar at 69 Colebrook Row has made his reputation as a pioneer of "molecular mixology," and many of his creations include obscure ingredients or whiz-bang techniques.

His basic philosophy couldn't be simpler, though: People drink cocktails because doing so is a frivolous pleasure.

"You don't need to have a Bellini, but it's a damn good feeling when you do," he writes in his new book, Drinks ($29).

This message reverberates throughout the book's 50 intricate recipes. The drinks are at once complicated, purposeful and free of pretension–a balance that no other bartender we know of has struck so gracefully.

The book's other driving force is flavor, with Conigliaro documenting his meticulous study of the science behind alcohol and offering the best ways to coax out deliciousness.

Like an Ideas in Food for cocktails, this book is best used for theoretical study: We don't know many home bartenders who have a rotary evaporator handy to infuse spirits with various essences.

But Drinks is nonetheless a seminal read about a topic that is often practiced but rarely perfected.