Book Review: Liquid Intelligence, by David Arnold

by | Dec 2, 2014 | Book Reviews | 0 comments

I’ve been watching David Arnold’s work for a really long time, and I’ve leveraged some of his research for many of the concepts that we’ve discussed here – like lime juice clarification or nitro infusion, for example. So when I first heard this book was hitting the market I was really excited.

The author is somebody I absolutely respect – I know his work is going to be good and I also know that he’s going to focus on the scientific perspective, and not just tradition.

So how was it?

Now that I’ve read the book, I would say it absolutely exceeded my expectations. I expected it to be very scientific in its subject matter and I expected a high attention to detail and quality information. But I felt that the final product was all of that and so much more.

There’s an incredible attention to detail throughout the entire book. The concepts are clearly described and explained, then beautifully photographed as well. Since I’m fairly familiar with Arnold’s work, I expected the quality content but the pictures came as a surprise. They are beautiful, plentiful and extremely helpful in explaining the (sometimes fairly complicated) techniques and concepts he’s discussing.

I also felt that the book really comes through in Arnold’s voice – which I appreciated. It may be heavily science-focused but Arnold brings his own personality and perspective and makes it much more readable.

Who would Appreciate this Book?

In all honesty, I’m not sure I’d recommend this book to just anyone. With its heavy science focus and fairly complicated and in-depth techniques, I feel that Liquid Intelligence was written for the reader with at least some experience behind the bar. If you’ve never touched a cocktail shaker you may find the book a bit overwhelming and you simply may not enjoy it as much. With a little experience behind the bar, you’ll be able to apply Arnold’s findings immediately and make better cocktails right away.

As I read through the book, I was also grateful for my science degree. I felt like it definitely helped me speak the language and understand the concepts more quickly. A science background is definitely not required, but I was glad I had it!

I will say Arnold does a great job simplifying and explaining his techniques in terms that anyone can understand – something he’s famous for on the Cooking Issues blog and Podcast. So while a bar or scientific background will help, just about anyone would be able to follow and learn from the book.

Two Spoons Up!

In conclusion I’m really glad I bought this book for several reasons:

First of all it’s an extremely high-quality book. It’s just beautiful and looks great on the shelf and on the coffee table. I suspect it won’t be long before I’ll be wiping off the simple syrup and liquor from the cover. (Hmm, maybe I should go ahead and laminate it now?)

Secondly (and most importantly) I really think it’s going to change my cocktails for the better. Arnold does a fantastic job of answering a lot of questions that I had about classic cocktail preparation, and also spends a lot of time discussing the various options for delivering flavor. I’m excited to start experimenting with this information in my own cocktails.

Go buy it!

If I haven’t convinced you yet, I don’t know what will! This book will make your drinks taste better, period. It’s worth every cent!

Buy Dave Arnold’s “Liquid Intelligence” on Amazon here.