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Drink Lightly

A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails, with 100+ Recipes for Low- and No-Alcohol Drinks: A Cocktail Recipe Book

Foreword by Alex Day
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Hardcover (Paper-over-Board, no jacket)
$26.99 US
8.3"W x 9.3"H x 0.93"D   | 37 oz | 14 per carton
On sale Apr 05, 2022 | 272 Pages | 978-0-593-23259-0
“When I think mixing, I usually think music, not drinks. Natasha David’s Drink Lightly made me think twice. This set of recipes for non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic cocktails does the perfect thing, which is to show us how to make our lives a little better, and it does it over and over again.”—Questlove 

Explore the lighter side of serious cocktails with 100 recipes for creative low and no-alcohol drinks from the craft cocktail veteran behind New York City’s beloved Nitecap bar.


ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: Saveur

Drink Lightly presents a relaxed style of drinking that goes down easy but is soundly rooted in the technical precision of craft cocktails. Award-winning bartender Natasha David’s approach to low-alcohol, aperitif-style drinks goes far beyond the formulaic—bitter liqueur plus soda—and takes full advantage of an incredible and vast array of low-proof spirits, liqueurs, and wines, along with flavorful fruit and herbal infusions. The result is a collection of creative, genre-pushing drinks that surprise and delight.

Offerings are effervescent and light in effect, but complex in flavor, ranging from savory and herbal to floral and aromatic, depending on your mood. Inspired by the joyful rhythms of life and gathering, recipes include delights such as the Lillet Rouge-spiked Kitty Cat Chronicles and the Wiggle Room, a vermouth and soda on a tropical vacation. The drinks are organized by refreshing Gulpabale Thirst Quenchers that invigorate the soul, Party Starters for a crowd, Decadent Treats for some frothy indulgence, end-of-the-night Slow Sippers, and non-alcoholic pick-me-ups.
 
Served up with whimsy and a wink, Drink Lightly will delight novices and professionals alike with its joyful spirit and lighthearted offerings.
“Expert mixologist Natasha David’s Drink Lightly is absolutely genius for anyone who loves the balance, elegance, and flavors of classic cocktails yet is looking for a low-ABV version. I'm grateful this book exists to help me navigate my home bar in a new way, and especially because it comes with a garnish of disco!”—Dana Cowin, founder of Speaking Broadly
 
“David has never met a classic cocktail spec that can't be elevated by promoting sherry, white port, or aromatized wine from demure modifier to shining star. Her confidence, grace, ever-present whimsy, and hard-earned wisdom are the keys to unlocking the secrets of good taste, and a good time.”—Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters, Amaro, and Last Call
 
“How to channel the spirit of a party is an art. But there’s no better than Drink Lightly to teach you the best way to embrace this—a collection of low- and no-alcohol cocktails that demonstrate how wonderful these drinks can be, but also a reflection on why these drinks suit the best moments of catching up over great drinks. Natasha has channeled all her experience in these areas to make it practical, easy and fun for you to bring these ideas into your home!”—Ryan Chetiyawardana aka Mr Lyan, owner, Lyaness, Silver Lyan, and Super Lyan

“This book gives you all the essentials to setting up the perfect bar and encourages you to show off your new cocktail skills to friends and family. Natasha takes you on a personal journey for the love of spirits and what it takes to throw a party.”—JJ Johnson, Chef and Founder, FIELDTRIP NYC
 
“Natasha’s response to the call for gorgeous NA bevs is not only a delicious dive into universally accessible options, but opens the door to a new level of hospitality and delight. I’ve long said that establishments that offer thoughtful alcohol-free cocktails are playing an elevated hospitality game and this book is like the cheat codes for folks entertaining both in and out of the business.”—Lani Halliday

“It’s not every day that a bartender creates a drink aesthetic so wholly unique that you know it when you see it. Natasha David has not just created an aesthetic, but an entire world. Her influence helped make the apéritif a part of modern American drinking culture, but on new terms (more whimsy, more glitter). Drink Lightly manages to be both an imaginative, Technicolor portal into her world and an essential manual for building a better low-ABV cocktail.”—Talia Baiocchi, editor in chief, Punch
Natasha David is an award-winning bartender who has spent time at Maison Premiere, Donna, and Mayahuel. With the founders of Death & Co, she went on to open and co-own the popular New York City cocktail bar Nitecap. Her recipes have been featured in various publications, including the New York Times, Nylon, Vogue, GQ, and Food & Wine. Her awards include Zagat’s 30 Under 30, Imbibe’s Bartender of the Year, and a StarChefs Rising Stars Award.
Origin Story

A little about me



I guess one could say it all goes back to the white wine spritz.

I grew up in a vibrant and diverse household. Both my parents are classical musicians. My Japanese-American mother is a concert pianist, while my Israeli father is a conductor. Though based in Germany, my childhood was spent traveling the world’s opera houses and concert halls while making stops to spend weeks with family around the globe. As a family, we communicated in a mumble-jumble of languages and ate plates of hodgepodge food, or mishmash as we affectionately called our everyday stir-fry pasta with leftover turmeric chicken. Classical music filled our house at all times (I didn’t discover pop music until I was ten years old—thanks, MTV), and my parents entertained guests often. My mother’s dinner parties were legendary—friends and family (myself included) would beg her to cook her famous meals, elegant dishes like baked salmon with parsley sauce and perfectly crisped potatoes followed by a dessert spread of cheesecake, chocolate almond cake, red wine–poached pears, and whipped cream (yes, I said spread!). While cooking, my mother would have her hair in a loose, low bun, an apron cinching her waist just so, and on the kitchen counterwas the somehow always half-full gespritzte glass of white wine (with way more bubbly water than wine, a ratio she still stands by today). I remember always thinking how glamorous and effortless my mother looked while prepping for her parties. My play kitchen soon churned out elaborate four-course meals in the style of my mother, and I couldn’t wait to grow up and host real dinner parties of my own, gespritzte glass of white wine and all.

Many of my father’s work trips were to Italy, most frequently Venice. The beautiful opera house Teatro La Fenice served as my playground. I spent rehearsals running up and down its hallways, hiding behind costume trunks and under grand pianos. Opening nights were a big deal, and my mother would put my sister and me in dresses she often sewed herself. After the premiere, the cast would gather at the local Chinese restaurant and celebrate. By the end of the meal, I always ended up with my head in my mother’s lap, the tables strewn with tumblers filled with some sort of red liquid and an orange slice. Of course, I would later learn that this mysterious elixir was a Campari and Soda.

New Year’s was spent at my grandmother’s house (on my mother’s side) in Berkeley, California, and celebrated the Japanese way with my grandmother hosting a shogatsu party, an impressive feast attended by family and friends. We’d spend days preparing all of the traditional dishes, such as kuromame (sweet black soy beans), gobo (burdock root), and of course platters of sushi and sashimi. Once guests arrived and the sake was warmed, I was always tasked with walking around and filling everyone’s glasses.

I was eleven years old and living in Rome when my parents separated. Not knowing where to go next, my mother pulled out a map of the United States, then asked me to close my eyes and point at a state. My finger landed on Washington State, and so my mother and I packed up and moved to Seattle, not knowing anything about the city or anyone who lived there (my sister was on her own journey of self-discovery attending university in Massachusetts). That first year was difficult. While we’d never exactly fit in anywhere before, for the first time in my life I felt like I was living in a foreign land. But after some time, we started to settle in, we slowly made new friends, and soon my mother returned to the kitchen, her white wine spritz in one hand, her other sprinkling herbed salt on a fillet of salmon. We were back in a groove, gathered around our dinner table.

At eighteen, I moved to New York City to attend New York University as a theater major. The move also marked my first job in the hospitality industry. With a recommendation from my sister, who was a regular at the bar, I somehow found myself bartending in an Irish pub in the East Village. I had zero professional hospitality experience (wait, how do you know what table gets what food? Table numbers? Amazing!) and quickly learned that being a gracious host went a long way when I had no idea how to make the Cosmos my guests requested. Within a few short months, I was well versed in pouring a Guinness and could fumble my way through the round of Kamikaze shots my Saturday regulars ordered.

After working every front-of-house position imaginable in the service industry—coat check, cocktail waitress in six-inch heels, host—I landed a job as a server at a little restaurant in NoHo that would change my life. Sure, I eventually married the bartender there, but it was my career that took a big 180. I soon found myself bartending brunches, churning out Mimosas and Blue Woo’s, an ungodly sweet mixture of blueberry schnapps and cranberry juice. Eventually, I became the assistant general manager. At that point, I was one year post-graduation from NYU, spending my days auditioning and my nights at the restaurant. I slowly started dreading my auditions and instead looked forward to a busy Friday-night service. Not long after, I parted ways with my talent agents and decided I wanted to do this restaurant and bar thing full-time. It was during this moment of recalibrating my life that I was offered my first real cocktail bartending gig. Ready for a change and for the chance to learn a new skill set, I jumped at the opportunity. In bars I’d worked in previously, the use of a jigger meant a nitpicky owner who forbade their staff to free-pour and look “cool” (and if we are being honest with ourselves, half the reason anyone wants to be a bartender is to look cool). In this setting, however, the jigger was a tool willingly used by the bartender to ensure balanced cocktail creation. Bar spoons weren’t just for grabbing hardto-reach olives out of a jar; they were used to stir cocktails, because apparently some drinks were stirred and some were shaken! I didn’t know it at the time, but I was training with some of the best in the biz. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of bartending and spirits. I remember taking my first sip of a properly made Manhattan—stirred with fresh vermouth, rye whiskey, a dash of Angostura bitters and garnished with a crimson brandy-soaked cherry pierced by a bamboo cocktail pick. It felt like new taste buds sprang into action. That bottle of Campari, which had collected dust at all my other bar gigs, could be turned into Negronis. Fresh lime juice was mixed with sugar and rum to make the most delicious, frothy Daiquiri. Dry vermouth was an actual ingredient in a Martini, not some stale liquid that one seasoned a glass with, and sherry wasn’t some warm, overly sweet cough syrup, as I had thought, but an incredibly varied and complex fortified wine. Also—fortified wine! A discovery that led me to this crazy journey of making low-proof cocktails.

I dove headfirst into studying classic cocktails and their structure (see page 83, Inspired by the Greats). I started visiting other bars and examined their menus with a fine-tooth comb. I tasted and tasted and tasted. My guests seemed as thrilled as I was! This wasn’t just drinking for drinking’s sake; this was an experience to relish, to savor and enjoy, and maybe most important, it was an experience I wanted to share with others.

At the end of my shifts, while others slung back shots of overproof whiskey, all I craved was a refreshing, comforting drink—a glass filled with ice, a couple ounces of white wine, and a generous slug of bubbly seltzer. My mother’s Gespritzte of my childhood. Often too embarrassed to drink this “old lady drink,” I would give in and down half a shot of the whiskey.

Over the years that followed, I honed my skill behind many wonderful bars such as Maison Premiere and Mayahuel, until I partnered with my dear friends Alex Day and David Kaplan to open Nitecap in 2014. Though the bar itself was small, I always had big dreams for Nitecap. Yes, of course, the drinks had to be phenomenal, the menu design innovative, and the décor inviting. But my dream was far more than that. I envisioned Nitecap as a true home and refuge for its staff, a safe space that encouraged and celebrated collaboration, political discourse, and creativity. 

Within a few weeks of opening I realized I needed something in the space to anchor those sentiments, and so a disco ball was hung. The disco ball was small in size and was connected to a remote control, allowing the staff to turn it on whenever they felt like the energy needed a little lift or to make a rendition of “Happy Birthday” that much more special. It was always, without fail, a unifying moment for everyone in the room—a shared moment of joy.

About

“When I think mixing, I usually think music, not drinks. Natasha David’s Drink Lightly made me think twice. This set of recipes for non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic cocktails does the perfect thing, which is to show us how to make our lives a little better, and it does it over and over again.”—Questlove 

Explore the lighter side of serious cocktails with 100 recipes for creative low and no-alcohol drinks from the craft cocktail veteran behind New York City’s beloved Nitecap bar.


ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: Saveur

Drink Lightly presents a relaxed style of drinking that goes down easy but is soundly rooted in the technical precision of craft cocktails. Award-winning bartender Natasha David’s approach to low-alcohol, aperitif-style drinks goes far beyond the formulaic—bitter liqueur plus soda—and takes full advantage of an incredible and vast array of low-proof spirits, liqueurs, and wines, along with flavorful fruit and herbal infusions. The result is a collection of creative, genre-pushing drinks that surprise and delight.

Offerings are effervescent and light in effect, but complex in flavor, ranging from savory and herbal to floral and aromatic, depending on your mood. Inspired by the joyful rhythms of life and gathering, recipes include delights such as the Lillet Rouge-spiked Kitty Cat Chronicles and the Wiggle Room, a vermouth and soda on a tropical vacation. The drinks are organized by refreshing Gulpabale Thirst Quenchers that invigorate the soul, Party Starters for a crowd, Decadent Treats for some frothy indulgence, end-of-the-night Slow Sippers, and non-alcoholic pick-me-ups.
 
Served up with whimsy and a wink, Drink Lightly will delight novices and professionals alike with its joyful spirit and lighthearted offerings.

Praise

“Expert mixologist Natasha David’s Drink Lightly is absolutely genius for anyone who loves the balance, elegance, and flavors of classic cocktails yet is looking for a low-ABV version. I'm grateful this book exists to help me navigate my home bar in a new way, and especially because it comes with a garnish of disco!”—Dana Cowin, founder of Speaking Broadly
 
“David has never met a classic cocktail spec that can't be elevated by promoting sherry, white port, or aromatized wine from demure modifier to shining star. Her confidence, grace, ever-present whimsy, and hard-earned wisdom are the keys to unlocking the secrets of good taste, and a good time.”—Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters, Amaro, and Last Call
 
“How to channel the spirit of a party is an art. But there’s no better than Drink Lightly to teach you the best way to embrace this—a collection of low- and no-alcohol cocktails that demonstrate how wonderful these drinks can be, but also a reflection on why these drinks suit the best moments of catching up over great drinks. Natasha has channeled all her experience in these areas to make it practical, easy and fun for you to bring these ideas into your home!”—Ryan Chetiyawardana aka Mr Lyan, owner, Lyaness, Silver Lyan, and Super Lyan

“This book gives you all the essentials to setting up the perfect bar and encourages you to show off your new cocktail skills to friends and family. Natasha takes you on a personal journey for the love of spirits and what it takes to throw a party.”—JJ Johnson, Chef and Founder, FIELDTRIP NYC
 
“Natasha’s response to the call for gorgeous NA bevs is not only a delicious dive into universally accessible options, but opens the door to a new level of hospitality and delight. I’ve long said that establishments that offer thoughtful alcohol-free cocktails are playing an elevated hospitality game and this book is like the cheat codes for folks entertaining both in and out of the business.”—Lani Halliday

“It’s not every day that a bartender creates a drink aesthetic so wholly unique that you know it when you see it. Natasha David has not just created an aesthetic, but an entire world. Her influence helped make the apéritif a part of modern American drinking culture, but on new terms (more whimsy, more glitter). Drink Lightly manages to be both an imaginative, Technicolor portal into her world and an essential manual for building a better low-ABV cocktail.”—Talia Baiocchi, editor in chief, Punch

Author

Natasha David is an award-winning bartender who has spent time at Maison Premiere, Donna, and Mayahuel. With the founders of Death & Co, she went on to open and co-own the popular New York City cocktail bar Nitecap. Her recipes have been featured in various publications, including the New York Times, Nylon, Vogue, GQ, and Food & Wine. Her awards include Zagat’s 30 Under 30, Imbibe’s Bartender of the Year, and a StarChefs Rising Stars Award.

Excerpt

Origin Story

A little about me



I guess one could say it all goes back to the white wine spritz.

I grew up in a vibrant and diverse household. Both my parents are classical musicians. My Japanese-American mother is a concert pianist, while my Israeli father is a conductor. Though based in Germany, my childhood was spent traveling the world’s opera houses and concert halls while making stops to spend weeks with family around the globe. As a family, we communicated in a mumble-jumble of languages and ate plates of hodgepodge food, or mishmash as we affectionately called our everyday stir-fry pasta with leftover turmeric chicken. Classical music filled our house at all times (I didn’t discover pop music until I was ten years old—thanks, MTV), and my parents entertained guests often. My mother’s dinner parties were legendary—friends and family (myself included) would beg her to cook her famous meals, elegant dishes like baked salmon with parsley sauce and perfectly crisped potatoes followed by a dessert spread of cheesecake, chocolate almond cake, red wine–poached pears, and whipped cream (yes, I said spread!). While cooking, my mother would have her hair in a loose, low bun, an apron cinching her waist just so, and on the kitchen counterwas the somehow always half-full gespritzte glass of white wine (with way more bubbly water than wine, a ratio she still stands by today). I remember always thinking how glamorous and effortless my mother looked while prepping for her parties. My play kitchen soon churned out elaborate four-course meals in the style of my mother, and I couldn’t wait to grow up and host real dinner parties of my own, gespritzte glass of white wine and all.

Many of my father’s work trips were to Italy, most frequently Venice. The beautiful opera house Teatro La Fenice served as my playground. I spent rehearsals running up and down its hallways, hiding behind costume trunks and under grand pianos. Opening nights were a big deal, and my mother would put my sister and me in dresses she often sewed herself. After the premiere, the cast would gather at the local Chinese restaurant and celebrate. By the end of the meal, I always ended up with my head in my mother’s lap, the tables strewn with tumblers filled with some sort of red liquid and an orange slice. Of course, I would later learn that this mysterious elixir was a Campari and Soda.

New Year’s was spent at my grandmother’s house (on my mother’s side) in Berkeley, California, and celebrated the Japanese way with my grandmother hosting a shogatsu party, an impressive feast attended by family and friends. We’d spend days preparing all of the traditional dishes, such as kuromame (sweet black soy beans), gobo (burdock root), and of course platters of sushi and sashimi. Once guests arrived and the sake was warmed, I was always tasked with walking around and filling everyone’s glasses.

I was eleven years old and living in Rome when my parents separated. Not knowing where to go next, my mother pulled out a map of the United States, then asked me to close my eyes and point at a state. My finger landed on Washington State, and so my mother and I packed up and moved to Seattle, not knowing anything about the city or anyone who lived there (my sister was on her own journey of self-discovery attending university in Massachusetts). That first year was difficult. While we’d never exactly fit in anywhere before, for the first time in my life I felt like I was living in a foreign land. But after some time, we started to settle in, we slowly made new friends, and soon my mother returned to the kitchen, her white wine spritz in one hand, her other sprinkling herbed salt on a fillet of salmon. We were back in a groove, gathered around our dinner table.

At eighteen, I moved to New York City to attend New York University as a theater major. The move also marked my first job in the hospitality industry. With a recommendation from my sister, who was a regular at the bar, I somehow found myself bartending in an Irish pub in the East Village. I had zero professional hospitality experience (wait, how do you know what table gets what food? Table numbers? Amazing!) and quickly learned that being a gracious host went a long way when I had no idea how to make the Cosmos my guests requested. Within a few short months, I was well versed in pouring a Guinness and could fumble my way through the round of Kamikaze shots my Saturday regulars ordered.

After working every front-of-house position imaginable in the service industry—coat check, cocktail waitress in six-inch heels, host—I landed a job as a server at a little restaurant in NoHo that would change my life. Sure, I eventually married the bartender there, but it was my career that took a big 180. I soon found myself bartending brunches, churning out Mimosas and Blue Woo’s, an ungodly sweet mixture of blueberry schnapps and cranberry juice. Eventually, I became the assistant general manager. At that point, I was one year post-graduation from NYU, spending my days auditioning and my nights at the restaurant. I slowly started dreading my auditions and instead looked forward to a busy Friday-night service. Not long after, I parted ways with my talent agents and decided I wanted to do this restaurant and bar thing full-time. It was during this moment of recalibrating my life that I was offered my first real cocktail bartending gig. Ready for a change and for the chance to learn a new skill set, I jumped at the opportunity. In bars I’d worked in previously, the use of a jigger meant a nitpicky owner who forbade their staff to free-pour and look “cool” (and if we are being honest with ourselves, half the reason anyone wants to be a bartender is to look cool). In this setting, however, the jigger was a tool willingly used by the bartender to ensure balanced cocktail creation. Bar spoons weren’t just for grabbing hardto-reach olives out of a jar; they were used to stir cocktails, because apparently some drinks were stirred and some were shaken! I didn’t know it at the time, but I was training with some of the best in the biz. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of bartending and spirits. I remember taking my first sip of a properly made Manhattan—stirred with fresh vermouth, rye whiskey, a dash of Angostura bitters and garnished with a crimson brandy-soaked cherry pierced by a bamboo cocktail pick. It felt like new taste buds sprang into action. That bottle of Campari, which had collected dust at all my other bar gigs, could be turned into Negronis. Fresh lime juice was mixed with sugar and rum to make the most delicious, frothy Daiquiri. Dry vermouth was an actual ingredient in a Martini, not some stale liquid that one seasoned a glass with, and sherry wasn’t some warm, overly sweet cough syrup, as I had thought, but an incredibly varied and complex fortified wine. Also—fortified wine! A discovery that led me to this crazy journey of making low-proof cocktails.

I dove headfirst into studying classic cocktails and their structure (see page 83, Inspired by the Greats). I started visiting other bars and examined their menus with a fine-tooth comb. I tasted and tasted and tasted. My guests seemed as thrilled as I was! This wasn’t just drinking for drinking’s sake; this was an experience to relish, to savor and enjoy, and maybe most important, it was an experience I wanted to share with others.

At the end of my shifts, while others slung back shots of overproof whiskey, all I craved was a refreshing, comforting drink—a glass filled with ice, a couple ounces of white wine, and a generous slug of bubbly seltzer. My mother’s Gespritzte of my childhood. Often too embarrassed to drink this “old lady drink,” I would give in and down half a shot of the whiskey.

Over the years that followed, I honed my skill behind many wonderful bars such as Maison Premiere and Mayahuel, until I partnered with my dear friends Alex Day and David Kaplan to open Nitecap in 2014. Though the bar itself was small, I always had big dreams for Nitecap. Yes, of course, the drinks had to be phenomenal, the menu design innovative, and the décor inviting. But my dream was far more than that. I envisioned Nitecap as a true home and refuge for its staff, a safe space that encouraged and celebrated collaboration, political discourse, and creativity. 

Within a few weeks of opening I realized I needed something in the space to anchor those sentiments, and so a disco ball was hung. The disco ball was small in size and was connected to a remote control, allowing the staff to turn it on whenever they felt like the energy needed a little lift or to make a rendition of “Happy Birthday” that much more special. It was always, without fail, a unifying moment for everyone in the room—a shared moment of joy.

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