I found a used copy of this book at a local bookstore, and bought it out of sheer curiosity. I knew nothing prior to mixing drinks or even how to use a shaker, and was thoroughly amused at how drinking enthusiasts around the world could come up with 780 unique -- and sometimes downright perverse and ridiculous -- names for the world's finest cocktails.
There are two things that I love about this book -- it's brilliantly arranged as a reference guide, and it's geared for both the entry-level hobbyist and the more experienced enthusiast in mind.
Unlike many other bartender guides that are tiny paperbacks or printed on thicker paper that is harder to flip-through, Salvatore Calabrese's book is built like a true index in mind: it's a hard-cover with spiral-bound pages inside printed on glossy color paper. The 780 drinks are divided into logical categories (brandy, rum, wine, vodka, shooters, punches, nonalcoholic, etc.) and each drink's mixing instructions are designed to be read in less than 30 seconds. As a quick reference, I have not seen a book that is better written with clarity and brevity in mind.
Any book I'm willing to pay for as an introduction into a hobby needs to me interested with the history, the basics on how-tos, and the fine science of becoming an enthusiast. The book's opening chapters cover everything from tools & equipment, glassware, and bar terminology to flavors & garnishes, proper techniques for juicing limes, and how to properly use ice!
Nearly every single recipe includes a brief history as to where the naming scheme caming from, and there's some description to the regional origins of certain spirits and bases as well.
I'm not planning on becoming a professional bartender, but if I were going to, I'd imagine this text would easily be one of the required reads and "keeper" books for someone truly interested in pursuing a long-term education into the fine art of drink mixing.