When I’m not busy burying my nose in a good book or writing about literature, I love enjoying a good craft cocktail. So much so, that an entire section of one of my bookshelves is dedicated to cocktail books. For some, the most complex cocktail they’ll ever order is a Jack and Coke, but cocktails that include lesser-known spirits, fresh garnishes and delicious fruits, herbs and syrups are growing ever popular. Cocktail and wine books are more than just simple recipes, a lot of them delve into the interesting history or cultures that brought the particular drinks to recognition, alongside gorgeous photography and art.
Here are five great booze-based books from the past year:
1. The Complete Cocktail Manual: 285 Tips, Tricks, and Recipes by Lou Bustamante
Lou Bustamante is a contributing cocktail reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and tastes an average of 500 cocktails a year—for research, of course. The Complete Cocktail Manual is his first book, which offers up tips and recipes sure to amp up your home bar and personal bartending skills.
2. Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons
Brad Thomas Parsons continues his spotlight on lesser-recognized but oft-used spirits, following up his 2011 title Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All with this book about the newest craze about an old spirit: Amaro. This serves as a good primer on both the American and European-made versions of this bitter liqueur, along with cocktail recipes and a how-to on making your own at home.
3. Smuggler’s Cove by Martin Cate with Rebecca Cate
As much as I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to cocktails, my not-so-guilty pleasure is indulging in fruity tiki drinks. Everything about the culture and aesthetic surrounding it appeals to me, so Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco is a dream destination of mine. This book is written by the owner, Martin Cate, and his wife Rebecca, is an encyclopedic guide into tiki culture and features 100 original and historic recipes.
4. I Taste Red: The Science of Tasting Wine by Jamie Goode
If you enjoy a little science and psychology with your alcohol, then this is the book for you. I Taste Red is the second book from British wine writer Jamie Good, and it revolves around synesthesia (when one sense triggers another). This book investigates how psychology, physiology, and neuroscience play a role in our enjoyment of wine.
5. American Rhone by Patrick J. Comiskey
I’ll admit: I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to drinking wine and wine culture, so any handy guides provide to be useful resources for me. American Rhone gives an impressive historical and cultural look at the rise and fall of the Syrah grape from the 1960s to present day, which paved the way for Rhone grape varieties to rise to recognition. Author and Wine & Spirits magazine critic Patrick J. Comiskey explores the evolution of the American Rhone movement.
These titles are all excellent to give as gifts during the holiday season—or to have handy, stocked next to your home bar to keep you sane during the holidays. Cheers!
YouTube Channel: Common Man Cocktails
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