Twelve cocktails book cover

An interview with Livio Lauro

Southern Glazer’s Bridget Albert talks to Livio Lauro about his book The 12 Cocktails: The Twelve Cocktails Everyone Needs to Know.


Q&A interview


“12 Cocktails” suggests a focused exploration of a select number of drinks. What was the inspiration of choosing the drinks and do they hold a unique story you can share with the readers?


With the “12 Cocktails,” Armando Rosario and I wanted to lay out an easy resource where you could find the solid foundations of cocktail making. We were concerned that there was some confusion out there.


At the time we started writing the “12 Cocktails” in 2013, there had been a surge in the use of the term “mixologist” over the use of “bartenders.” Linguistics aside, this imminent need for “mixologists” created an urge in many new bartenders to learn advanced mixology techniques from day one. We wanted to make sure readers could understand that a well-made Gin & Tonic was far more relevant than infusing gin with a tea bag.


The book’s main message is that learning the time-tested classic cocktails (and their techniques) carries more weight than jumping on the latest trend to keep up with the times.


In the book, we lay out 12 classic cocktails that work as a “category example” of many other cocktails. Basically, if two or more cocktails had similar ingredient structures, serving glass, bar tools needed, and methods of preparation then we considered them “family members.”With this, we determined that by learning these 12 cocktails, you are learning the classic techniques that are needed to learn hundreds more.


Crafting the perfect cocktail often involves a blend of art and science. Can you elaborate on the creative and technical aspects of developing the recipes in the book? How do you balance innovation with honoring the traditional elements of the cocktails?


Throughout the book, included in each of the 12 main cocktails, we discuss their history and how they came to be. We do this to honor the traditions of each drink. In a separate section, adjacent to the history, we discuss how their usage has evolved today. So, going back to the example of the Gin &

Tonic; while it might have been created for medicinal reasons in the mid-1800s, today it is a piney and fizzy highball used as a refreshing thirst quencher.


By including those two sections, our intentions are to inspire readers to honor the tradition and celebrate tasteful innovation.

The back of the book offers some notions on flavor affinities that the reader can use if they wish to create a riff on these classics.


As an author specializing in cocktails, you likely have a strong passion for mixology. Could you share one of your favorite experiences related to the process of creating, sharing, or enjoying a particular cocktail?


My story: Never underestimate the importance of every drink you are making. When I was 11 years old, I was attending a family wedding and had the luck of seeing a bartender make my Shirley Temple. It was at that time I realized I wanted to make a career out of cocktails when I grew up. I would love to meet that bartender one day to thank him; he has no idea how one day in 1983 he inspired me to do what I love so much.


Armando’s Story: Never underestimate the importance of every detail when you are at work. When Armando moved to Las Vegas to open Wynn Resorts in 2005, he volunteered to help the Liquor Distributor Mixologist to cut some fruit to prepare garnishes. The Liquor Distributor Mixologist was there to do a training and was so impressed by Armando’s knife skills that he lobbied for his employer – Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits – to hire him years later. Even preparing garnishes can advance your career.


Leave us with a toast!


Since 12 Cocktails is all about simplicity, here is a simple toast to a life of happiness.

"May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past."

-- Anonymous



About Livio:


Livio is a celebrated beverage professional, entrepreneur, author, and spirit educator.


Purchase The 12 Cocktails: The Twelve Cocktails Everyone Needs To Know



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Follow Livio on Social: @liviolauro