The BAR® Guys
“A living iPod of drink lore and recipes” (the New York Times), or, if you prefer, a “crazy, bearded Civil War general” (Conan O’Brien), David Wondrich is widely regarded as the world’s foremost expert on the history of mixed drinks. As Esquire magazine’s long-time Drinks Correspondent, David has ranged far and wide through the world of booze, covering everything from Kentucky bourbon to Chinese cocktails.
He is also the cocktail columnist for Imbibe and the Whisky Advocate and a contributing editor at also writes for Saveur. Among the other publications he has written for are the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and a host of magazines, from Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Wine & Spirits to Oprah, Real Simple, Newsweek, Marie Claire and too many others to count. In 2009, his drink writing earned him the Tales of the Cocktail Spirit Award for best drinks writing. Oh, and Stephen Colbert thinks he’s cute.
He has also written one book on the evolution of American music and four books on cocktails and mixology. The Wall Street Journal has hailed the most recent of these, Punch: the Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, as a “noble effort to restore Punch’s good name,” while the New Yorker called it a “lively, fascinating history” by “a tremendously witty writer.” In 2011, it won the Tales of the Cocktail Spirit Award for Best Drinks Book.
David’s previous book, Imbibe! From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to Professor Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar, is widely considered a modern classic and an essential book for bartenders. It is the first cocktail book ever to win a James Beard award (it also won the Tales of the Cocktail Spirit Award for Best Drinks Book and was a finalist for an IACP award).
His first book, Esquire Drinks: An Opinionated and Irreverent Guide to Drinking (Hearst Books, 2002), was acclaimed as “arguably the most enjoyable guide to entertaining with alcohol since Kingsley Amis’s 1972 On Drink . . . brilliantly witty, irreverent and brimming with interesting trivia” (The Toronto Globe and Mail ) and “a must-have for anyone who enjoys a first-class cocktail” (the Dallas Morning News).
David’s devotion to historical tippling does not shrink from fieldwork: he travels frequently to all corners of the country and places as far afield as Ireland, Germany and Australia, lecturing on the history of drink. He was also the motive force behind the Slow Food organization’s 2003 Tribute to Jerry Thomas, in which some of the nation’s most respected mixologists got together to pay tribute to the Professor—an event which the New York Times described as “an antiquarian lark, with overtones of a séance.”
More importantly, David is a founding partner of Beverage Alcohol Resource, whose 5-day program in spirits and mixology is widely acknowledged to be the most intense and best of its kind. Through BAR and its innovative BarSmarts program, created with Pernod Ricard USA, he has helped to train literally thousands of bartenders in the fine art of mixing drinks.
Occasionally, he has also been known to develop a cocktail list for a bar or restaurant. The drinks he created for New York’s 5 Ninth caused the New York Times to say “Mr. Wondrich has an appreciation of the antique in cocktail-making, and a talent for contemporary context”; in 2005, they won Time Out New York’s coveted award for Best Cocktail List. Dr. Wondrich (he holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University) is a member in satisfactory standing of the Yerba Buena No. 1 Chapter of E Clampus Vitus.
David lives in Brooklyn with his wife Karen and daughter Marina and what seems like 247,000 bottles of booze.