“The Gentlemen’s Guide to Cocktails” from Hardie Grant Books.

As we roll forward toward February I am beginning to have “Mad Men” withdrawal symptoms. I know the 2013 season is just a few more months away, but…

To help me get through it all I have been checking out “The Gentlemen’s Guide to Cocktails” from Hardie Grant Books, written by Alfred Tong and illustrated by Jack Hughes. The illustrations really make the book. They draw from a retro period that feels like it crawled off the set of Mad Men, yet they have an updated and contemporary air to them.

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Hughes work seems to be influenced by illustrators like Joe Bowler, Howard Terpning, Al Parker, Bernie Fuchs and so many other masters from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I love the muted tones, soft color palet, the simplification of detail, and the layouts of each frame. There is a machine like precision to the pieces, and yet they create a feeling of familiarity. Like you have seen them somewhere before, which is a possible nod to illustration styles of the mid 1980’s featuring props and styling a decade or more earlier.

Now I need to go make a Manhattan, or two.

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