GSN Review: Winter 2009 Cocktail Guides

Lots of great cocktail, spirits & mixology books came out this last year.  Here are my top recommendations.
The Art of Distilling Whiskey and Other Spirits: An Enthusiasts Guide to the Artisan Distilling of Potent Potables by Bill Owens & Alan Dikty
Not only a beautiful book, but an extremely informative one for anyone interested in the history and current methods of distillation.  (And who among us, isn’t?)
the bartender’s GIN compendium by Gaz Regan
Think you know everything there is to know about this sublime spirit?  Think again.  Gary Regan has filled this tome with virtually every minutiae about gin and then some.  Plus, a handy guide on difficult to find gins.
Diffordsguide Cocktails 8 (Diffords Guide) by Simon Difford
You may love or hate Simon Difford, but you have to agree that if nothing else, he is thorough in his cocktail recipe collections.  It’s no wonder he’s on volume 8.  Each year he adds several hundred new recipes from around the globe.
The Essential Bartender’s Guide by Robert Hess
This is really quite essential.  Written for a beginner, but full of recipes for the advanced mixologist as well.  A handy reference guide that I pull out ALL OF THE TIME.  Nice one, Robert!
The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale Degroff
So, what’s the difference between this book and the previous volume?  This is the Cadillac of cocktail books.  Not only is it full of beautiful photographs, but the writing is engaging.  Dale manages to make you feel like you’re sharing a drink with him.  Simply an amazing achievement.
Food & Wine 2009 Cocktail Guide by Food & Wine Magazine
You might think this slim volume is lacking depth, but you’d be wrong.  The guide holds more information than you think about glassware, the latest cocktail trends, and the up and coming bars around the US.  Well worth the few bucks it costs.
The Mixellany Guide to Gin by Geraldine Coates
What?!?  Another guide to gin?  Isn’t one enough?  Unfortunately for your wallet, the answer is no.  Geraldine’s book makes a perfect match to Gaz Regan’s prosaic levity by remaining fairly serious, but not in an academic way.
Mixologist: The Journal of the European Cocktail, Volume 3 by Jared Brown & Anastasia Miller
I continue to be amazed at the prolific output by Jared & Anastasia.  Their research continually enlightens and delights.  This volume studies the history of cocktails and mixology in Europe.  Great stuff!
Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-be by Natalie Bovis-Nelsen
This book is worth it’s weight in gold for anyone who has tended bar at a party where some guests don’t want alcohol, but also don’t want a soda.  Natalie has compiled a fantastic selection of easy to make non-alcoholic cocktails that taste amazing.  Not only for expectant mothers.Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink by Jared Brown & Anastasia Miller
If there was a worthy successor to David Wondrich’s “Imbibe!”, this would be it.  The entire history of fermented beverages around the world.  I think this would make a great BBC series, guys!

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie
100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them
by Ted Haigh
Technically, this book was published five years ago and isn’t a new title.  However, the upgrade really makes it invaluable.  More cocktails, more photos of rare spirits and ephemera, more history and more resources in the back.  The only disappointment, if it could be called one, is that you will catch Ted’s bug to track down the unusual ingredients most of these drinks call for.

Also, you can’t go wrong with any of the reprints of rare cocktail books published by Mud Puddle Books or the guides put out by Mixellany Ltd. Both of these publishers are doing a huge service to the cocktail community by reprinting long out of print (and out of price range) copies of seminal cocktail guides.  If you want to understand the history of what you do behind the stick, grab these books and prepare to be enlightened.

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