Here once again is a round-up of just a few of the books that have made their way across the GSN review desk this spring.
The Craft Cocktail Party by Julie Reiner (Grand Central Life & Style) Julie Reiner is arguably the most successful female bartender in the industry, so it is only fitting that she finally has published her own book. Starting as a student of Dale DeGroff who provides a lovely forward, Julie was instrumental in bringing cocktail culture back from the dead in NYC. Opening bars such as the Flatiron Lounge, Pegu Club and Clover Club over the past dozen years, her insights and recipes are welcomed into our homes with her first book. After a brief chapter on bar tools, garnishes and syrups, Julie gets right to it with enough recipes to satisfy anyone. Broken into seasonal libations, there are the classics (Martinez, Scofflaw, Hurricane) but more often there are her own luscious creations. What sets this book apart is her down to earth writing style and easily obtainable ingredients. Anyone can make these with a minimum of effort both in the liquor store and in the home. GSN Rating: A-
Imbibe! Updated & Revised Edition by David Wondrich (Perigee) One of the most important mixology books published in the first decade of the 21st century, Dave Wondrich’s insightful volume into that most American of pursuits gets an upgrade. Using the life of Professor Jerry Thomas, author of the first cocktail guide back in 1862 as a jumping off point, Wondrich focuses on the histories of early cocktails including the ubiquitous Mint Julep which surprisingly dates back to colonial times. New information reflecting other prominent bartenders who preceded Thomas, the revival of long-lost spirits and liqueurs, and nearly two dozen excellent Golden Age cocktails that you have never enjoyed before. This one book will give the reader more of an appreciation for the art of mixology than any other. Like Jerry Thomas, David Wondrich is a showman and captures the reader with well mixed and tasty prose. GSN Rating: A++
Distilled by Joel Harrison & Neil Ridley (Mitchell Beazley) When faced with shelf after shelf of spirits at your local liquor store, how do you choose which ones to take home for an evening of getting to know one another? This book by the authors of the popular website CaskStrength.net do your homework for you. Focusing on the most interesting versions of everything from absinthe to whiskey (and then some), the reader gets some insights from craft distillers from around the world, 10 spirits in each category to try, and some cocktail recipes. Loads of evocative full-color photographs make this more than just a treatise of alcohol though. You will have fun trying to track down some of the spirits and perhaps even having a tasting party at home with friends. GSN Rating: B+
Bitters & Shrub Syrup Cocktails by Warren Bobrow (Fair Winds) “Bring me a shrubbery!” This classic line from Monty Python’s Holy Grail was not about fruit vinegars, although it could have been as they have been around for hundreds of years in the Arabic speaking world. Mr. Bobrow’s latest book in his cocktail trilogy is all about the bitters and the shrubs. Geared for the experienced home enthusiast, this 150+ page volume is full of recipes for making your own cocktail mixers and bitters. Be prepared to invest in a lot of bottles and labels as well as setting aside plenty of room in your refridgerator to keep them all. The drinks are creative, clever and a bit on the tart and aromatic side. You may find each recipe needs a little tweaking to find the right balance for you. Overall though, this is a fun book for those who don’t mind waiting a few days to a few weeks to have house-made ingredients on hand. GSN Rating: B+
Beer For All Seasons by Randy Mosher (Storey) We here at Good Spirits News sometimes do take a break from hard liquor and cocktails to enjoy the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage, beer. This book serves as an introduction to the hundreds of styles, flavors and brands available. Plenty of background on the history of brewing, sprinkled with beautiful photographs of glasses and bottles of beer and people enjoying them makes up the first third of this quick read. The middle section is devoted to seasonal beers (bocks, shandys, Märzens and stouts to name but a few), and the book is concluded with a list of the 100 top beer festivals around the world. Any beer lover will appreciate this book, but for the most part this book is geared for the drinker just starting their journey. GSN Rating B-