Salvatore Calabrese is one of the world's top bartenders. He is known for his perfectionism, for his passion to get every detail right. All of which makes me wonder...what went wrong? For all its merits, this is a book riddled with errors and inconsistencies. It commits the worst sin of a recipe book: many of the recipes, which otherwise all sound delicious, are crippled by obviously missing ingredients or inconsistent instructions. Furthermore, for a book about cocktails by flavor, it has disconcertingly little to say about the science and art of flavors and combining them (and what it does say is often erroneous). For instance, in the one brief paragraph titled "Here's the science...," Calabrese states that "Recent research has confirmed that bitter, along with sweet, salty, sharp (sour) and spicy are the only tastes that humans can detect. Taste buds, little organs located all over the tongue, interpret or pick up the sense of which flavors are in food and drink. All other flavors are experienced primarily through aroma."
Firstly, spiciness is not a taste, and is not sensed by the taste buds; it is a chemically-induced pain sensation (much like the "cooling" sensation of mint) picked up by the trigeminal nerves (a sense which he does not even mention). Anyone who has felt the "flavor" of a chili pepper seed in their eye can attest to this. And secondly, there is at least one other flavor that research has recently confirmed IS picked up by the taste buds: savory, or "umami". Noticing this striking (and authoritatively declared) error in the first pages of the book, I read the remainder with justified caution. The text is desperately in need of some basic fact-checking--which, since the editor neglected to do, the reader must. I suggest picking up a copy of Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" for an impeccably researched and solid (if still very basic) information source on the science of flavor sensation. Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page's "The Flavor Bible" and Gray Kunz's "The Elements of Taste" will help get you started on flavor composition. Neither of those elements is present in Calabrese's little recipe catalog.
Overall, just be advised that this is strictly a recipe book (with--to be sure--quite interesting recipes, a useful spiral binding, and great photography) that is organized by dominant ingredients rather than by alphabet. Also be advised that this is written entirely from a European viewpoint. Tools and measurements are aimed primarily at a European audience, and while Stateside readers aren't entirely ignored (conversions are given, albeit rough), many tools and ingredients will probably not be available to North American dwellers.