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  • By Michal Wisniowski
    Sep 15, 2009
    "Taste of the Spirit World" Filled with colorful characters, award-winning mixtures, and a deeper look into the history and practices behind mixology, Cocktails & Conversations serves to both entertain and educate. Finsel weaves a tapestry replete with all those elements which serve to imbue "the drink" with its allure. Drifting through its pages you will no doubt develop a thirst for some of the beverages within. This is where Cocktails & Conversations presents recipes to let you try your own hand at creating some of the most successful tonics, and start out on the road to becoming a seasoned mixologist.
  • By bill mcilwain
    Jun 19, 2009
    "Cocktails & Conversations from the Astral Plane" If I were Joel Finsel, I would begin work right now on a movie script based on my book. It has all the right elements: SETTING--Eccentric, famed restaurant in Philadelphia, the Astral Plane, where the regular drinkers/diners wander in night after night, day after day. It is an unusual bunch, indeed, and each has a story to tell. Joel Finsel, the author of this book, was a young wizard mixing drinks at the Astral Plane. He won bartending prizes for his especially innovative recipes. Joel now tends bar at Caffe Phoenix in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. CHARACTERS—Reed, the restaurant boss and greeter. He says it this way: "Hiiiii, how are yoouuu? It is soOo nice to see you!" Eyes intent, hands folded behind him, his head nodding…His greeting, Finsel writes, helped keep the Astral Plane in business for more than 35 years. And "Reed was the kind of boss who in the slow months of summer would write on... More > our schedule, 'If anybody needs a loan to get by, just let me know. No problem…" Rachel—"I think I'll have a Rachel's Panty Remover," she says. "It is two parts vanilla vodka, one part Chambord, and the rest pineapple juice." "Rachel's Panty Remover? I was dumbstruck." "Yeah," she said. "Unless you think you can come up with a better name?" "Coming right up." Cliff---"From the large window at the front of the bar, I watched him standing on the corner staring at traffic like a disgruntled gnome, looking lost the way seniors often do, having lived through so much change in their lives. Whenever I could manage, I would go around and hold open the door for him as he shuffled inside." Michelle---To see Michelle within your mind, think Whoopi Goldberg but with more edge, rolling into the bar once or twice a week to savor Godiva milkshake martinis, who by the time she ordered her second had everyone in tears. Michelle was known to say, "Man, that girl is crazy. I think she be letting the grapes speak to her." The book is made up of 36 short stories and numerous well-written histories of various drinks. About brandy, Finsel writes, "You may recall a scene from the Titanic where an eminent businessman upon recognizing his imminent doom, dresses in his finest suit and asks his man for brandy. He wasn't going to ask for tequila to calm the chaos around him, that's for sure; neither the dancing girls of rum, nor the weather-numbing effects of Scotch. He was not headed to the mines of Siberia with a flask of vodka, nor to Martini hour for dinner was most certainly over. Instead, realizing his end, the man called for a snifter of noble calm to comfort his mind during his last moments before drowning in a frigid sea." Interspersed throughout the book are splendid recipes for drinks--the kind that make Finsel a prize-winning bartender. He has high skills as both a mixer and a writer.< Less
  • By djames6
    Jun 4, 2009
    "Cocktails and Conversations" Having been an occasional patron of The Astral Plane restaurant in Phila,which is what the book is mainly about, I looked forward to reading about what was really going behind the scenes there. As I expected there was lots of interesting and strange stuff that the casual customer might never suspect. Since Joel(the Author) was the bartender was there for over two years he had a unique vantage point to view the carryings on by both the customers and the staff. I knew the place had a unique ambiance but there were was much more going on besides the preparation and delivery of good but somewhat quirky cuisine. Joel does an excellent job of giving one a feel for the place and the characters that inhabited it. There are many funny stories interspersed with some sad ones, and there are also great drink recipes. What more do you need? I would recommend this book to anyone who actually experienced The Astral Plane and also to the unfortunate ones that... More > were never there so they can see what they missed. Dave James< Less
  • By Gerald Zinner
    Dec 19, 2008
    "Cocktails and Conversations from the Astral Plane – by Joel Finsel" RE: Cocktails and Conversations from the Astral Plane – by Joel Finsel Did not know what to expect - I sat down late last evening with a cup of tea and some Christmas cookies that a friend had left here and started reading the book. I was hooked early on. The cast of characters is priceless - Rudy, Henry, Ms Drastic, Mr. Matthew and the whole crew. I became really interested with the story of Henry and his son, and it just built from there. After a busy day, I was so happy to start again at about 9:45 PM - a cup of tea, more cookies, and the rest of Joel's book and I was back in Philly. The stories have such a comfortable feel (I do not know it that is good or not, but that is how I felt) about them. And the unusual thing is that I can visualize you easily, but the rest of the characters are just pictures in my mind. My favorite line of the whole book is on page 68. "She stripped me of the sandbags... More > grounding my heart, infused me with fire, and slashed the ropes of complacency staking me to the ground." You romantic dog, you! "Twinkle toes" is my favorite story - the part about Henry and the gay porno movie (Spruce Bruce!!) was a hoot as well. (OK - did he really make the movies?) I am told me some of the characters are fictitious - how accurate is that? I thought they were all part of your surreal world at the Astral Plane. Also found the history lessons about various "beverages" interesting as well. For a non- drinker, that is pretty good. But I will admit I skipped all the recipes for drinks - that would be expecting too much of me. You talk in the book about the various chores you do as part of your job, and I am so glad you did, because it made the book more relevant to me. I now realize the adventures and various experiences that a bartender lives every day, and I can see how this would make great material for a book. I may not be a literary expert, but I feel I am in a good position when it comes to good writing. I read a lot, and I know what I like and what I do not like. Your book hooked me early on, and the more I read it the more I liked! You have given me two wonderful evenings here at home with your book. (Now I'm going to read it again!) Jerry Zinner< Less
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Product Details

ISBN
9780578003306
Edition
Second Edition
Publisher
Nexus Press
Published
June 21, 2011
Language
English
Pages
222
Binding
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
Weight
0.86 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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