Read before you drink! Six essential cocktail books
If you’re looking to reorganize your cookbook collection in the new year, don’t forget about the cocktails. Here’s a look at six cocktail books -- some old, some new -- to add to your collection.
This is the optimum cocktail coffee-table book, and there’s a reason its featured prominently at Anthropologie: The book cover feels like soft suede. Along with full page photos and recipes, authors Eric Prum and Josh Williams, the duo behind the Mason jar cocktail shaker, include stories of sunshine-filled horse races and ice cold mint juleps. Prum and Williams give readers an inside look at their envious lifestyles and explain the inspiration behind their seasonal cocktails. Following a little cocktail-making 101, with basic information on glasses and ice, drink recipes are categorized by season. For summer, “hop, skip, go naked” is made with vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, lemon slices and summer ale; and for winter, “sage advice” is made with sage liquor, grapefruit zest, pink grapefruit, winter sage and cava.
Tim Federle, author of the literary cocktail book “Tequila Mockingbird” has created a book featuring cocktails inspired by classic nursery rhymes. Like most books for young children, “Hickory Daiquiri Dock” is a board book, but it’s intended for a toddler’s parents. The book features fun illustrations and cocktails with names such as Jack and Coke (and Jill), Ring Around the Rose, and Old MacDonald Had a Flask. You can always read it to an age 21-plus friend before bed.
“Distilled” (Available April 2015)
What’s a spirit? What are the different types of distillation? Authors Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley are looking to be your “sherpa up the mountain of distilled drinks.” Rather than being a guide to every spirit ever (the book is only 224 pages), Harrison and Ridley choose spirits you would typically find at a well-stocked bar. There’s a chapter on vodka, gin, tequila, absinthe, rum, whiskey, brandies and more. After hosting more than 250 spirit tastings around the world, the authors offer information on the best way to drink each spirit, its ingredients and the method in which it’s made. And if you really want to impress your bar companions, there’s an entire chapter on the 21 words distillers can’t live without.
If Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” focused on cocktails, this book would be it. Author Dave Arnold, who is also the founder and president of the Museum of Food and Drink, owns the New York food-and-drink research lab and bar Booker and Dax and hosts the radio show “Cooking Issues.” He introduces readers to his mad-scientist mind in “Liquid Intelligence,” which features more than 120 recipes but is not a cocktail recipe book. Arnold explains the science behind everything from clear ice cubes to nitro-muddling fresh basil to create the perfect cocktail. Drink enthusiasts can expect lessons on clarifying cloudy lime juice, working with liquid nitrogen and making homemade sodas.
Jeff Hollinger and Bob Schwartz, bartenders at San Francisco’s Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, give readers a look at their version of barroom artistry. The two like to enhance recipes for classic cocktails with various herbs and syrups made from scratch. Hollinger and Schwartz describe themselves as “the mad scientists with bottles and shakers strewn before us, stirring potion after potion until we find the perfect combination to send a customer’s tastebuds on a euphoric journey.” That translates to recipes for martinis and Martinezes, Sazeracs and more. And along with cocktail recipes, there are mini history lessons on everything from bitters to absinthe -- and the first Old Fashioned.
Whether you’re a Springbank, Highland Park or Glenmorangie fan, Charles MacLean’s “Malt Whisky” will serve as your bible. The award-winning book was republished in a portable size so whiskey drinkers could tote it around as a sort of reference guide. There’s a full directory of Scotland’s most famous distilleries, tips on buying malt whiskey with color label photos and more.
Sometimes a lush, but always classy about it. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_
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