Ticonderoga Club partner Bart Sasso’s new book focuses on non-spirit ingredients

Sasso will discuss and sign the book in Atlanta Thursday and Friday, June 13-14.
Jim Meehan and Bart Sasso co-wrote "The Bartender's Pantry: A Beverage Handbook for the Universal Bar."

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Jim Meehan and Bart Sasso co-wrote "The Bartender's Pantry: A Beverage Handbook for the Universal Bar."

Of all the things Bart Sasso has done professionally, including branding and design for companies such as Tip Top Proper Cocktails and Switchyards, and serving as a partner in metro Atlanta food and beverage concepts Ticonderoga Club, How Crispy and Vice Kitchen, writing a book was not one of them.

But when James Beard Award-winning author and pioneering bartender Jim Meehan approached him about working together, he jumped at the chance.

Six years later, the pair, along with journalist Emma Janzen, have released “The Bartender’s Pantry: A Beverage Handbook for the Universal Bar,” a book that has evolved since the pair started working on it years ago.

“It was such a huge opportunity,” said Sasso, who lived in Atlanta for more than 15 years before moving to Boston with his family just before the pandemic. He’s back in town this week for a series of events to celebrate the release of the book at venues including Dad’s Garage and Ticonderoga Club.

What started as a book about non-alcoholic drinks morphed into “a sort of handbook, a much more casual and approachable thing,” Sasso said. “The idea was to make it accessible.”

The book, which covers the zero-proof components of cocktails, is divided into 10 categories of ingredients: sugars; spices; dairy; grains and nuts; fruits; vegetables, flowers and herbs; coffee; tea; soda and mineral water; and ferments that cover each subject’s history in drinks, popular production practices and artisan processing methods.

Each chapter features illustrated recipes from bartenders, baristas, importers and chefs, including contributions from Paul Calvert and Greg Best of Ticonderoga Club and Miles Macquarrie of Kimball House.

Bart Sasso, a partner in Atlanta restaurant Ticonderoga Club, is a co-author on the new book "The Bartender's Pantry."

Credit: Handout

icon to expand image

Credit: Handout

Sasso said he and Meehan had to reconceptualize the book due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The original plan was to shoot bartenders and their cocktails in their bars, but the book ended up being photographed in Meehan’s home in Portland, Oregon, and Sasso produced hand-drawn illustrations to go along with the recipes.

Meehan’s expertise in the bar world and Sasso’s talents in design made them the perfect partners to develop a thoroughly researched and aesthetically pleasing book.

“The concept and the aesthetic were developed in tandem,” said Sasso. “We did a lot of ‘moodboarding’ and talking about what the book would look like. We dug into it and came up with the structure, and we were in constant communication about how best to show people how to do things and showing the steps. How could we illustrate things in a way to make it clear to the user?”

The dense, technical illustrations are presented in an almost graphic novel style, a nod to cocktail how-to videos that have become so popular on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. Drawings “can bend and manipulate reality to illustrate a point,” Sasso said. “Sometimes it’s easier to look at a diagram than it is to look at photos of something.”

So six years after embarking on his first book, would Sasso go back for a second round?

“Of course,” Sasso said. “It was a brutal effort. To be fair Jim warned me — he said, ‘It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and it’s never going to be worth it from a monetary standpoint.’ But it’s about adding something to the lexicon and creating something that we’re incredibly proud of that hopefully inspires other people.

“But I might want to take a little break before doing another one.”


Panel discussion

Book recipe contributor and Ticonderoga Club partner and beverage director Paul Calvert will discuss the book with Jim Meehan, Chef Duane Nutter of Southern National and contributors Miles Macquarrie of Kimball House and Greg Best of Ticonderoga Club. Ticket includes a welcome cocktail from Tip Top Proper Cocktails and a presigned book.

5 p.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, June 13. $35. Dad’s Garage, 569 Ezzard St. SE, Atlanta. bit.ly/4egWqfg

Release party and book signing

Ticket includes a signed book and complimentary passed apps courtesy of the TC Kitchen. Cash bar will feature three cocktails from the book: Greg Best’s Southern Cola, Paul Calvert’s What Cheer and Jim Meehan’s Grail Ale.

7-9 p.m. Thursday, June 13. $45. Ticonderoga Club, 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. bit.ly/3xdh1QU

Wine event

Ticket includes a signed book and wine flights from FUSO wines.

6-8 p.m. Friday, June 14. $35. Press Shop, 72 Georgia Ave. SE, Atlanta. bit.ly/3VeFnlk

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