Another new year, and time for new resolutions! One of mine is to do more reading and learn about the fascinating worlds of spirits and mixology. Here are some GSN recommended titles to be on the lookout for in the next few months.
Empire of Booze by Henry Jeffreys (Random House UK) Empire of Booze is a loose history of Britain, cleverly and humorously told through its contributions to alcohol, charting the rise of British power from its small corner of Europe to global preeminence. Each chapter features a historical period and a drink—tracing its origins and examining its impact on British culture, literature, science, philosophy and religion. Learn about how the champagne we drink today is owed to British technology for making sparkling wine; rum and India Pale Ale were developed so they could withstand the long, hot journeys to Britain’s burgeoning overseas empire; whisky became the drink of choice for weary empire builders far from home; and how without alcohol, the pre-20th century global economy could not function. With drink recommendations offered throughout, you can booze while you read along. So raise a glass to Britain, the Empire of Booze, whose alcoholic innovations are some of its greatest, lasting gifts to the world.
Distilled in Oregon: A History & Guide with Cocktail Recipes by Scott Stursa (The History Press) Early Oregon fur traders concocted a type of distilled beverage known as “Blue Ruin,” used in commerce with local Native Americans. Drawn by the abundant summer harvests of the Willamette Valley, distillers put down roots in the nineteenth century. Because of Oregon’s early sunset on legal liquor production in 1916–four years before national Prohibition–hundreds of illicit stills popped up across the state. Residents of Portland remained well supplied, thanks to the infamous efforts of Mayor George Baker. The failed national experiment ended in 1933, and Hood River Distillers resurrected the sensible enterprise of turning surplus fruit into brandy in 1934. Thanks in part to the renowned Clear Creek Distillery triggering a craft distilling movement in 1985, the state now boasts seventy distilleries and counting. Author Scott Stursa leads a journey through the history of distilling in the Beaver State.
New Orleans Cocktails: Over 100 Drinks from the Sultry Streets and Balconies of the Big Easy by Sarah Baird (Cider Mill Press) Mix up more than 100 of the Big Easy’s most celebrated and innovative cocktails, and immerse yourself in the culture and history of the South’s most famous city with this gorgeous new drink recipe collection. New Orleans has a cocktail culture that goes way back—and for the first time ever, you can be transported to the heart of this trendsetting city with more than 100 creative and artful cocktail recipes. Tour the best bars in NOLA and around the world. Evocative photos, scene-setting bar descriptions, mixologist insights, party planning themes, and shopping tips make this the perfect guide to the art of New Orleans drinking. With gorgeous, full-color photography throughout, and cocktails inspired by Crescent City writers, musicians, and revolutionaries, New Orleans Cocktails features unique libations shared by the best bartenders in the Big Easy, as well as creative new twists on old classics.
Hennessy: A Toast to the World’s Preeminent Spirit by Glenn O’Brien & Jean-Philippe Delhomme (Rizzoli) Lavishly illustrated, this is the first book on the world’s most famous cognac producer. Considered a benchmark of excellence, its blends have become icons of refinement and luxury. In Pass the Henny, renowned writer Glenn O’Brien invites the reader to discover the history of cognac. The highly entertaining text, filled with extraordinary events and O’Brien’s irresistible humor, is married with classic cocktail recipes and evocative imagery that conveys the lifestyle of the Hennessy connoisseur through the ages, including the Mad Men of the 1960s and today’s stars of hip-hop. Featuring contributions from such cultural luminaries as Shepard Fairey, Nas, Futura, Fab 5 Freddy, and Todd Selby as well as never-before-seen images from the Hennessy archive, Pass the Henny is an informative and engaging account of the world’s most revered brandy and a book that belongs on every cognac enthusiast’s shelf.
Where Bartenders Drink by Adrienne Stillman (Phaidon Press) Where Bartenders Drink is THE insider’s guide. The best 300 expert drink-makers share their secrets – 750 spots spread across 60 countries – revealing where they go for a drink throughout the world when they’re off-duty. Venues range from late-night establishments and legendary hotel bars to cozy neighborhood ‘locals’ – and in some surprising locales. The 750 expert recommendations come with insightful reviews, key information, specially commissioned maps, and an easy-to-navigate geographical organization. It’s the only guide you need to ensure that you get the best drinks in the most memorable global locations.
Rum: The Manual by Dave Broom (Mitchell Beazley) This is a book about how to drink rum of all kinds. It’s about classic rums and new-generation rums, about rhum agricole and about premium aged rums, about rums from all over the world. It’s about rum enjoyed with cola and ginger beer. About the best rum for a classic daiquiri. About rum cocktails that ooze style and personality. Above all, it’s about enjoying your rum in all kinds of ways. The days of rum being seen as a minor spirit are over. The category has been reborn in recent years with developments such as the rise of premium aged rums and spiced rums. The range of rums available has widened dramatically, with tiki bars in every major city globally. Add in cachaça – Brazil’s native cane spirit – and you have a hugely popular distillate. So there’s no surprise that the premium rum market is growing at an astonishing rate – from 23 percent per annum in the US to 74 percent per annum in France, for example. The mission of this book is to help drinkers appreciate this complex spirit, find the style they like and discover how this versatile spirit can best be enjoyed. It will help you to understand your rum – how it’s produced (whether from molasses, cane syrup or cane juice) and whether it’s dry, sweet, fresh or oaky. More than 100 different rums are featured and analysed, from rich, sweet mellow Guyana rums to the vegetal peppery rums of Martinique or Guadeloupe and contemporary spiced rums. Dave Broom provides a description and graded tasting notes for each brand, allowing you to create the perfect mix every time. Finally, a selection of classic and contemporary cocktails shows just how wonderfully versatile this spirit is.
Pittsburgh Drinks: A History of Cocktails, Nightlife & Bartending Tradition by Cody McDevitt & Sean Enright (The History Press) Pittsburgh’s drinking culture is a story of its people: vibrant, hardworking and innovative. During Prohibition, the Hill District became a center of jazz, speakeasies and creative cocktails. In the following decades, a group of Cuban bartenders brought the nightlife of Havana to a robust café culture along Diamond Street. Disco clubs gripped the city in the 1970s, and a music-centered nightlife began to grow in Oakland with such clubs as the Electric Banana. Today, pioneering mixologists are forging a new and exciting bar revival in the South Side and throughout the city. Pull up a stool and join Cody McDevitt and Sean Enright as they trace the history of Steel City drinking, along with a host of delicious cocktail recipes.
Absinthe: The Exquisite Elixir by Betina J. Wittels & T.A. Breaux (Fulcrum Publishing) Take an intimate look into the contemporary world of absinthe. International in scope, Absinthe: The Exquisite Elixir is a visually rich journey into an alluring subculture. Filled with color reproductions of classic and current lithographs, posters, cartoons, as well as photos of antiques, glassware, and other tools of the absinthe drinker, this new and comprehensive guide explains and illustrates the history, culture, and mystique of the drink known as the Green Fairy. The authors provide insights into the controversy and effects of the Green Fairy through the stories of famous connoisseurs, including Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. In addition to a rich history, this detailed new guide includes recipes, reviews of existing Absinthe brands, and absinthe’s contemporary culture and ritual. Confirmed absinthe drinkers, neophytes, the curious, and collectors will all find this book equally intriguing and seductive.