The Third Rail: Essential Drinks for the Modern Man


Let’s say you’re an alien, possibly from Planet Funkatron, who has crash-landed on Earth and needs to go undercover as a male earthling for safety. Well then, The Man’s Book covers all the data an alien would need to act like — and possibly better than — a male human. And one of the most important elements of maleness is copious, but well-informed, boozing.

The Man’s Book includes a helpful list of “A Dozen Cocktails for Life,” though why a man needs to know how to make a Cosmo — 6 parts vodka, 3 parts Cointreau, 6 parts cranberry juice, 1 part lime juice, shaken with ice and strained, garnished with orange peel — is beyond me. Perhaps it’s for when you accidentally bump into Sarah Jessica Parker? And want to annoy her?

More to the point, author Thomas Fink makes the excellent argument that cocktail measurements should be described relatively — one part this, two parts that — rather than as exact measurements. Ratios are nothing new to cocktails — check out this amazing article on the subject at Serious Eats. But learning this system is an excellent excuse to make that pint-glass Old-Fashioned — 5 parts bourbon, 1 part sugar syrup, 2 dashes Angostura per glass, garnished with an orange slice — which you’ve been meaning to try.

Forcing the dry subject of mathematics onto the slippery business of bartending confirms all the usual masculine stereotypes that Lawrence Summers follows. But The Man’s Book doesn’t fully prove its alpha status until Fink diagrams various Beer Pong maneuvers. Better yet, Fink explains the best strategies to win at darts (it’s pretty detailed, but aim for the left side of the board).

These disquisitions on the theories behind various manly arts can be confusing — I didn’t dare look at the section on “Bowties, etc.” Shouldn’t bowties be the “et cetera”? But some of those theories help get at the quintessence of life’s endeavors. For instance: why let a bartender mix your drink when you can damn well do it yourself? Therein lies the beauty of Boilermakers. Take one shot glass of whiskey and drop it into a half-filled pint glass of lager. A night spent downing these doozies is the drinking equivalent of a bar mitzvah. Congratulations, now you are a man.