bartender hands making drink

An interview with Dale Degroff

Southern Glazer’s Bridget Albert talks to Dale Degroff about his book The Craft of the Cocktail.


Q&A interview


Tell our readers what is new about your book The New Craft of the Cocktail.


I branded most of the drinks in the New Edition. In the 2002 edition, branding would have been limiting, but not today. The vast numbers of new bottlings in almost every category, not to mention categories that did not exist widely or at all, offers drink-makers the opportunity to fine-tune flavor profiles in drinks like never before.


I also had the opportunity to speak about 9/11. We operated two companies BE Rock (the Rainbow Room) and BE Windows (Windows on the World restaurant). We lost our lease at the Rainbow Room, and I was working out my contract at Windows. I had an office there at Windows and I worked an interactive drink making session called Spirits in the Skybox on September 10th, 2001. I closed the Bar after presenting a Tequila session and I never went back to work. The deadline for the original Craft of the Cocktail was one month before the tragedy, but it was not released until early 2002. I never got to react officially in print. The new edition in 2020 offered me that opportunity.


How has the cocktail scene changed when you started bartending vs now?


Community, community, community; information, information, INFROMATION…the rise of the USBG around the country, the many resources for bartenders by bartenders like Speed Rack, The Helen David Foundation, The Tales of the Cocktail foundation; the trade finally budgeting dollars for bartender education, not to mention the ongoing platforms on the internet. The resources are so vast, a bartender need only surf the internet to get all manner of education in so many beverages related areas.


What tips do you have when it comes to selecting spirits for your bar?


Regular comparative tasting in all the major categories, beginning with training in how to taste like what is offered to wine students. Who made the rule that taste training was only for chefs and wine students?


What do you hope your legacy will be?


I returned bartending to the pre-prohibition role, not just a fallback job but an exciting career choice with no financial ceiling. And reminded the young bartenders that we are as much a culinary craft as is the kitchen.


Leave us with a toast!


A toast to Gaz Regan, who taught us that bartenders can save the world one guest at a time.



About Dale:


Winner of two James Beard Awards for Wine & Spirits Professional and Food & Beverage. Master Mixologist and an author. His enormous influence in the bar world spans over three decades.


Purchase The Craft of the Cocktail

Listen to Dale’s episode here:


Follow Dale on Social: @kingcocktl