Fall is prime time for new book launches – here’s a short list of four of the latest crop of cocktail and spirits books I’ve particularly enjoyed, which I hope you’ll consider reading now or adding to holiday gift lists later.
The book: The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to keep you level (Sanders & Gratz)
The author: Dinah Sanders, of cocktail blog Bibulo.us. The @bibulous feed has long been one one of my favorites to follow – the enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity where cocktails are concerned make for an irresistible mix.
Why I love it: I want to make every drink in this book. The well-curated drinks are ringers – especially since I already have a soft spot for low-octane libations. And the luscious photos have a sweetly speakeasy-ish vibe.
Cocktail pick: Haberdasher, attributed to Josh Harris and Scott Baird, SF. (A great majority of the bartenders represented throughout the book are San Francisco based, really the only bone I have to pick with this book.) It’s a delicious Negroni variation, equal parts Amontillado sherry, Gran Classico bitter, and Carpano Antica, finished with a couple of dashes of orange bitters and a lemon twist.
The Book: Drink More Whiskey: Everything You Need to Know About Your New Favorite Drink (Chronicle Books)
The Author: Daniel Yaffe, founder and editor-in-chief of Drink Me magazine
Why I love it: It’s right on topic, and right on time: whiskey is clearly having a moment. And Yaffe’s done a good job of making this accessible and easy-reading, with fun bon mots like this one: “A bartender once told me that white whiskey is like a distiller wearing only his underwear.” I just wish this book included photos, which would have added another layer of dimension.
Cocktail pick: The cocktails sprinkled throughout the book feature whiskey, natch. And the one that got my attention was the Nail in the Coffin, a Rusty Nail variation that features Japanese whisky instead of Scotch, Licor 43 instead of Drambuie, and some added flavors (Madeira, Fernet Branca, cardamom) for complexity.
The Book: Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today (Fair Winds Press)
The Author: Warren Bobrow, aka “The Cocktail Whisperer.” Sometimes spotted at cocktail parties in the company of Klaus the Soused Gnome.
Why I love it: First, a disclosure – I wrote a blurb for the book cover. In my opinion, “restorative” is a perfect adjective for cocktails, and the whole herbs-and-roots-and-spices-in-cocktails trend going on these days fits right in with the “restorative” context, and gives a great platform for cocktails that might not otherwise be featured. The photos are lush and have a great New Orleans old-school apothecary feel.
Cocktail pick: The Coconut Cooler. It’s offbeat and memorable and a little nutty. Basically, it involves drilling three holes in a chilled coconut and pouring in rhum agricole. There are more polished and elegant drinks in the book, but this is the one I most want to try.
The Book: Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey (Potomac Books)
The Author: Fred Minnick, whiskey writer
Why I love it: I learned something new on every page. This is not a light and fluffy book, and it’s not a book about whiskey cocktails. Rather, it’s deeply researched and takes an interesting angle (the role of women) as a way to talk about whiskey from a fresh perspective. I’d recommend it for someone who read and liked Dave Wondrich’s Punch and Imbibe.
Cocktail pick: A dram of whiskey, of course. (Whiskey Women has no cocktails, but no one’s going thirsty on my watch!)