Whether you’re relaxing on the beach, the porch or the couch this summer, it’s always good to kick back with a good book once in a while. And when you’re a connoisseur of adult beverages, there’s nothing better than a good book about booze. Here are some of the best drinks tomes released in the last few months.
By Reid Mitenbuler
Starting with the earliest experiments in distilling corn on a Virginia plantation in 1622 and taking us all the way through today’s craft-distillery boom, Bourbon Empire is an engaging and thorough exploration of the history of America’s national booze. A writer for such illustrious publications as The Atlantic and Slate, Mitenbuler has an appealing style that’ll keep you turning pages.
THE CRAFT COCKTAIL PARTY
By Julie Reiner
At her New York bars Clover Club, The Flatiron Lounge and the newly opened Leyenda, Julie Reiner blows drinkers away with her sophisticated cocktails. Her new book brings the art of mixology to the masses, offering simple recipes that are easy to whip up at a home bar. The book’s organized by season and occasion, offering drinks for summer barbecues, holiday celebrations and more.
By Lew Bryson
As the managing editor of Whisky Advocate magazine, Lew Bryson makes a living by tasting whiskey, and in his latest book, he shares the secrets of becoming a connoisseur yourself. It’s full of tips on how best to serve, savor and judge the spirits, as well as a guide to all the world’s many whiskey styles. If you’re an aspiring whiskey geek, this one’s for you.
IMBIBE! UPDATED AND REVISED EDITION
By David Wondrich
David Wondrich is the world’s foremost drinks scholar, and his 2007 book Imbibe! examined the history of cocktails in America, helping to revive a raft of old-timey recipes and to kick off the craft-cocktail revolution, winning a James Beard Award and becoming required reading for anybody interested in alcohol in the process. Now, he’s put out a significantly revised edition of the book, featuring more recipes and newly uncovered details about Jerry Thomas, author of the world’s first cocktail guide, along with a new theory on the etymology of the word “cocktail” that involves sticking ginger up a horse’s ass. (No, really; you’ll have to buy a copy to find out more.)
THE ART OF AMERICAN WHISKEY
By Noah Rothbaum
Love the art attached to the outside of bottles as much as what’s inside? Check out this book, which traces the history of bourbon and rye through 100 iconic labels dug up from distillery archives. It’d make a great addition to any coffee table, but there’s plenty of substance here, too: Each chapter looks at a different era of whiskey history, telling the stories of the distillers, liquor salesmen and politicians who brought booze to where it is today, and each chapter ends with a collection of cocktail recipes appropriate to the time period.
THE IDEAL BARTENDER
By Tom Bullock
In 1917, the widely respected head bartender of the St. Louis Country Club published a cocktail guide, becoming the first African-American mixologist to do so. The book included dozens of recipes, including a Mint Julep loved by Theodore Roosevelt, as well as an introduction by club member George Herbert Walker, grandfather and great-grandfather to Presidents Bush. This reprint by Cocktail Kingdom preserves the original as accurately as possible, adding a new foreword by rum expert Ian Burrell.
COCKTAILS ON TAP
By Jacob Grier
Beer cocktails are refreshing and ideal for summer, and they’re also super-trendy lately, which makes this new book doubly useful. Portland bartender Jacob Grier tracked down dozens of recipes, including vintage and old-timey sudsy concoctions as well as contemporary creations from a range of top modern mixologists around the country. It’s an astoundingly deep collection of great recipes.