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Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life by Toby…
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Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life

by Toby Cecchini

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Am I the only person who has trouble turning off a bad movie or just not finishing a not-so-great book? I always do this to myself; I'll keep plugging through either the film or novel feeling like there has to be something of a redemptive quality lurking somewhere in the end, something to make the mediocrity worth it, make sense, and leave me with something enlightened in the end. By now, I know that nine times out of ten, this never happens; watching Bloodsucking Freaks from start to finish only made me feel worse in the end for wasting all that time.

While Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life by Toby Cecchini is certainly nowhere near as bad as Bloodsucking Freaks, I really do think that it's time to throw in the towel and move onto something a bit more...well, interesting. I had heard about Cosmopolitan, and I was instantly taken in by the idea - what stories a bartender must be able to tell! I thought, wow, interesting stories, and maybe I'll be able to learn something in the process about alcohol...I must admit that once I win the lottery, I'd love to learn a bit of anything concerning mixology (and really should know more about wine). Even cooler - Cecchini had originally published parts of his memoirs in Slate Magazine, which is where David Plotz, the author of The Genius Factory, is from.

Cecchini can write, arguably better than Plotz. The main difference, however, is that Plotz kept my attention. Cecchini - not so much.

While I'm sure Cecchini did fabulous on his SAT's and can mix a great drink (he reinvented the Cosmopolitan as we know it, hence the title), his "stories" blend from one to the next and all in all just aren't very interesting and come across as horribly pretentious. I'm made it to page 105 and have been through his "learning to tend bar" days, his fascination with hotel-bars, obnoxious American drinking habits...and I just can't help but wonder: what the hell is he going to talk about up to page 238? I'm not even half way done?

Insofar as learning about drinks? My best bet is the five-drink recipe appendix. Otherwise, I saw and then instantly forgot lots of expensive, French, no-so-typical wine names.

The overwhelming majority of user-written reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble seem to mirror my complaints (pretentious, monotonous, dull, and tepid, yet well written), with a few people particularly enamored of the novel, for whatever reason. I do not think that I would recommend that anyone run out and buy Cosmopolitan, but I wouldn't necessarily crinkle up my nose and/or roll my eyes if you said you were reading it. I think that the time has come for me to move onto something else. ( )
  sunshin3daydr3am | Jun 17, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767912098, Hardcover)

Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life is a memoir of the bartending life structured as a day in the life at Passerby, the bar owned and run by Toby Cecchini. It is, as well, a rich study of human nature—of the sometimes annoying, sometimes outlandish behavior of the human animal under the influence of alcohol, lust, and the sheer desire to bust loose and party. It's not a pretty picture, but it's always compelling through the gimlet-eyed gaze of the author. As his typical day progresses, from the almost pastoral quiet of opening the bar and setting up to the gathering rush of customers dropping in after work to the sheer madness of catering to a crazed crush of funseekers, Toby Cecchini muses over a life spent in the service industry and the fascinating particulars of his chosen profession. Topics touched on include dealing with regulars, both welcome and not; sex and the bartender; cocktail connoisseurs (and drinks he refuses to make); learning the bartending ropes of the Odeon when young and newly arrived in New York; the sheer man-killing pace of keeping those drinks coming at flood tide; and the manifold varieties of weirdness and bad behavior that every bartender has to learn how to manage.

Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life
is the hip, behind-the-scenes look at the frenzied yet undeniably fun atmosphere of that great establishment—the bar—and Toby Cecchini is, by turns, witty, acute, mordant, and lyrical in dealing with the realities of his job, shedding plenty of light on the hidden corners of what people do when they go out at night.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:22 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A memoir structured as a typical day at Passerby, the bar owned and run by Toby Cecchini.

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