David A. Embury

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David Augustus Embury (3 November 1886 in Pine Woods, New York – 6 July 1960 in New Rochelle, New York) was an American attorney and author of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948), an encyclopedia of the 20th century cocktail.

The book is noteworthy for its highly opinionated, witty and conversational tone, as well as its categorization of cocktails into two types: aromatic and sour, its categorization of ingredients into three: base, modifying agents and special flavoring and coloring agents, and its 1:2:8 ratio (1 part sweet, 2 parts sour, 8 parts base) for sour type cocktails.

In the book, Embury makes it clear that he had "never been engaged in any of the manifold branches of the liquor business" and that his experience was "entirely as a consumer and as a shaker-upper of drinks for the delectation of my guests".[1] Embury goes on to say, "On the other hand, I have always possessed an insatiable curiosity about the whys and wherefores of many things and particularly of food and drinks." [2]

The book also contains sections on glassware, bar equipment, a discussion of several different types of bitters, and much other minutiae on the topic. The last edition of the book is now a half-century old, and many of the brands of liquor Embury discusses are no longer made, or, though once common, now almost impossible to find and the occasional price quotes he inserts are also very much out of date. But as an all-around encyclopedia of cocktail making and an "encyclopedia of spirits" in general, it is still regarded as a basic text. All editions of the book command quite high prices from online auction sites and booksellers, as it is long out of print, but considered a "classic".

For many years, Embury was a senior tax partner with the Manhattan law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle. He also served as chairman of the National Interfraternity Conference from November 29, 1946 to November 28, 1947. Embury graduated from Cornell University in 1908. He would later graduate from Columbia Law School in 1916. Embury became a member of the Acacia Fraternity at Columbia Law School on January 17, 1914. He was the first Acacian to become chairman of the North-American Interfraternity Conference. The Columbia Chapter closed its doors in 1933. He includes in the book a recipe for a cocktail called an "Acacia". He was also a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.


  1. ^ Embury, David (1958) [1948]. The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. illustrated by Nathan Gluck (New rev. ed. ed.). Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday. pp. 9–10. LCC TX951 .E55 1958. 
  2. ^ Reference material on David Embury

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