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Yes, it’s time to once again drool over all of the new boozy books coming out in the next few months. Well, don’t literally drool on them. Regardless, these libatious literary works will be bound to leave an impression on you. Ok, enough with the puns…

Whisky Rising: The Definitive Guide to the Finest Whiskies and Distillers of Japan by Stefan Van Eycken (Author), Jim Meehan (Foreword) Cider Mill Press Raise a glass to Japanese whisky! Whisky Rising is the essential reference with revolutionary new insights into the emerging world of Japanese whisky, featuring profiles on distilleries new and old (some so new, they don’t even have whisky yet!), interviews with master distillers and blenders, and reviews and tasting notes for the best of the best, plus a definitive catalog featuring all of the must-drink whiskies! Follow the whisky bar guide and learn something new from the nosing and drinking tips. Whisky Rising will give you a taste of the good stuff!

The Periodic Table of Cocktails by Emma Stokes Abrams Image The Periodic Table of Cocktails is a fun, concise, and appealingly geeky new concept to cocktail appreciation. The foundation of the book is a periodic table organized by cocktail styles (Martinis and Up, Fruity/Tropical, Highballs/Muddles, Collinses/Fizzes, etc.) and by predominant base alcohols across the chart’s rows (vodka, gin, tequila, etc.). If you like one cocktail in the table, you should enjoy all the cocktails that surround it. The book also offers the background history and make-it-yourself recipe for each of the more than 100 “elements” or cocktails. The book will be published with a companion volume, The Periodic Table of Wine.

The Craft Cocktail Compendium: Contemporary Interpretations and Inspired Twists on Time-Honored Classics by Warren Bobrow Fair Winds Press Whether you’re new to mixing drinks or have been creating your own cocktails for years, The Craft Cocktail Compendium has everything you need to know to mix, shake, or stir your way to a delicious drink. With over 200 craft cocktail recipes, expert mixologist Warren Bobrow will help you broaden your skills and excite your taste buds with unique takes on timeless favorites and recipes you’ve likely never tried before.

The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution by Tristan Stephenson Ryland Peters & Small The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution is the fifth book by bestselling author Tristan Stephenson. Explore rum’s remarkable history from its humble origins to its status as life-blood of the Royal Navy and its love affair with Cuba. Discover its darker past, with tales of devils, pirates and its reputation as the revolutionary spirit. This fabled drink is in the midst of another revolution, transforming from uninspiring grog to premium product, with aged and spiced premium varieties leading the charge. Learn about how rum is made, from the science of sugar cane and molasses to distillation and unique ageing techniques. The Rum Tour will transport you to the most exciting rum distilleries the world has to offer, with Tristan’s signature tasting notes guiding you towards the right rum at the right time. Explore the legendary Caribbean home of rum to the pioneering rum makers around the world-embracing dynamic new techniques and taking flavor to dizzy new heights. Finally, Tristan’s mixology skills will help you master jazzed-up versions of the Mai Tai and Mojito, perfect a Planter’s Punch and keep you on trend with Brazil’s famous Caipirinha and Batida cocktails, made with rum’s sister spirit, cachaça.

Rum Curious: The Indispensable Tasting Guide to the World’s Spirit by Fred Minnick Voyageur Press Once the drink of sailors and swashbuckling pirates, rum is the most versatile — and the most varied — spirit in the world. It is consumed neat as a sipping drink, on the rocks, and in a dizzying variety of cocktails like the mai tai, mojito, and pina colada. In Rum Curious, author Fred Minnick first takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the world of rum, describing its many styles; explaining the great variety of fermenting, distilling, and maturing processes; and highlighting distillers and distilleries. He then teaches the reader about tasting rum — revealing the experience offered by brands ranging from the familiar to the unusual and obscure. A final section provides recipes for classic and innovative rum cocktails from around the world. Rum Curious is the one book the reader will need to understand and appreciate rum in all its glorious variety.

Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bootlegger’s Manual by Matthew Rowley Countryman Press American Prohibition was far from watertight. If you knew the right people, or the right place to go, you could get a drink―most likely a variation of the real thing, made by blending smuggled, industrial alcohol or homemade moonshines with extracts, herbs, and oils to imitate the aroma and taste of familiar spirits. Most of the illegal recipes were written out by hand and secretly shared. The “lost recipes” in this book come from one such compilation, a journal hidden within an antique book of poetry, with 300 entries on making liquors, cordials, absinthe, bitters, and wine. Lost Recipes of Prohibition features more than 70 pages from this notebook, with explanations and descriptions for real and faked spirits. Readers will also find historic and modern cocktails from some of today’s leading bartenders.
Full-color illustrations throughout.

Absinthe: The Exquisite Elixir by Betina J. Wittels (Author), T.A. Breaux (Editor) 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.

 

 

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image002This extremely rare paperback book has been the holy grail for many a collector of cocktail guides over the past few decades and is finally now available to a wider audience.  Originally published in 1905, this revised facsimile of the 1912 edition still holds valuable information to anyone who is seeking to learn as Charley puts it, “how to open a saloon and make it pay”.

You would think that one hundred years of business acumen and research into how to please the thirsty masses would make this guidebook obsolete, but not so.  In fact, no higher testimony is given this book than by the inestimable Jim Meehan, previously of NYC’s award-winning PDT bar who provides the introduction.  In particular are the various sections on comportment when tending bar.  Every maxim is still fitting in 2015.  “Don’t let any man go away dissatisfied, even if you lose by it”, “Don’t think because you are the owner of a saloon that you can do as you like in it”, and in particular “There are a certain number of men behind the bar who think they know it all, and who turn out drinks irrespective of the individual taste of the men most to be considered – those who pay for them and drink them”.

The recipes included within are pretty much your standard early 20th century fare, but also include many original cocktails which were submitted by the readers of the Police Gazette.  In fact, this publication was printed as a special mail order guide by the 19th century equivalent of the New York Post.  As this Wikipedia entry for the Police Gazette so eloquently states, “Ostensibly devoted to matters of interest to the police, it is a tabloid-like publication, with lurid coverage of murders, Wild West outlaws, and sport. It is well-known for its engravings and photographs of scantily clad strippers, burlesque dancers, and prostitutes, often skirting on the edge of what is legally considered obscenity.”  Bar culture would have been a natural fit for the man of the day, I suppose.

Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide by Charley Mahoney (1912 facsimile) Published by Cocktail Kingdom

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With the fall season just around the corner, here are some new cocktail and spirits books to curl up with on a cool evening.  Just make sure you have a drink in hand!

indexFood & Wine Cocktails 2013 – Edited by Kate Krader and Jim Meehan (American Express Publishing)  These concise and yet very detailed cocktail guides have been published for the past nine years and they continue to lead the way in terms of what is trending in American cocktail culture.  Featuring libations created by almost three dozen of the leading lights in the mixological world, along with appetizers and bar snacks from many world-class venues, this guide will keep you busy for weeks.  Granted, you will easily go broke buying all of the ingredients needed, but hey, you only live once.  A nice selection of recommended bars from major cities, along with sources for elegant glassware and barware round out this beautifully illustrated little volume.  GSN Rating: A+

indexGenever: 500 Years of History in a Bottle by Veronique Van Acker-Beittel (Flemish Lion LLC)  Books about gin abound, but this is the first English publication about genever that I’m aware of.  The author is well-informed about the history of this traditional spirit, having grown up in Belgium.  Starting in the 13th century, she quickly moves through the history of genever and it’s effects on both the economy and the culture of Europe over the centuries.  Period black and white illustrations are sprinkled liberally throughout, along with several photographs of distilleries and bars.  Perhaps the most interesting chapter is entitled “Genever Drinking Rituals”.  Having myself participated in the kopstootje, I appreciated knowing more about the various ways genever is enjoyed through social experience.  The book is also accented with a number of recipes for young, old and fruit genever based cocktails.  This book is a great introduction to a spirit that is just beginning to make its mark upon the New World.  GSN Rating: B+

indexCocktails by Amy Sacco (Assouline)  This is a small coffee table styled book with lots of photos of bars, pithy quotes and the occasional cocktail glamour shot with an original recipe.  More of a vanity project than anything else, this book still gives a glimpse into the life of the upscale bar world around the turn of the 21st century.  Lots of beautiful 20-somethings paired with period photos from the post-prohibition era make sense in a kind of mixological mash-up.  Not too much of substance here, but regardless a beautifully produced volume.  GSN Rating: C+

indexCocktails & Amuse-Bouches For Her & For Him by Daniel Boulud (Assouline)
A collection of artistically photographed drinks along with original recipes by Daniel Boulud and Xavier Herit from NYC’s Daniel restaurant.  Interestingly, the project is comprised of two slim volumes contained in a slip case.  One for “him” and the other for “her”.  The feminine recipes seem a bit lighter and flowery (literally), whereas the masculine drinks are more herbal, bitter and strong.  The amuse-bouche recipes are illustrated in watercolors, thus separating each book into yet another two halves.  All of the recipes are top-notch and not too difficult to reproduce at home.  However, I think that one single volume with suggested cocktail/food pairings might have been a better publishing choice. GSN Rating: B+

indexThe Cocktail Lab by Tony Conigliaro (Ten Speed Press)
I’ve been waiting for the U.S. release of this book for over a year.  I’m glad I did, since this Americanized version has converted most of the measurements to ounces.  For those who haven’t seen Tony in action, he truly is a mad scientist.  Using laboratory equipment often not seen outside of a University classroom, he re-thinks every aspect of cocktails.  The book is broken into chapters that include drinks that are culinary, inspired by perfume, and concept based  drinks to name a few.  Perhaps the most valuable sections are devoted to making cordials, waters, milks, liqueurs, syrups, tinctures, and foams.  These alone are worth the price of the book, since they will inspire any reader to experiment with their own cocktailian creations.  Be warned however, that you may find yourself addicted to tracking down and buying a lot of ingredients which are not easily found in the US.  Heaven help you, if you find yourself justifying the pricey purchase of a rotovator!  GSN Rating: A+

indexThe French Quarter Drinking Companion by Allison Alsup, Elizabeth Pearce & Richard Read (Pelican)
I’ve been to New Orleans several times and it seems as if there are more new bars in the French Quarter every time I go.  I guess this only makes sense since New Orleans is known as a drinking city.  You can even get a “go-cup” at many places and take your drink to the streets.  Reading this book, it becomes apparent that you  can do a  2-3 hour bar crawl that will include stops at a dive bar, a hotel bar, a hipster bar, a restaurant bar, a chain bar and even an LGTB friendly bar if you’re so inclined.  That’s not even mentioning the ever-present neon colored Daiquiri shops.  Most of the bars listed here are worth a visit, and the book helps newbies decide what they should order to get the best experience.  The anecdotal stories of visits by the authors are also worth a read; working both as an indicator of New Orleans culture and as amusing short tales of a unique world where visitors and locals alike are treated as equals.  I wish there were more photographs of the inside of the bars, but the prose does a fair job of conjuring up the atmospheres of the interiors.  GSN Rating: B

51n7v51MLrLBottoms Up – 52 Cock-Tail Spins for High Flyers From the Recipes of Many Celebrities (Redowa Press)
A very nice reprint of an extremely rare cocktail guide published during prohibition.  Only two copies are known to exist, and one of them recently sold for a hefty sum.  This is the kind of book that gives insight into what Hollywood’s elite were calling for when it was still illegal.  Being a fan of the silent film era myself, I was surprised that there are many celebrities who contributed their favorite recipes of whom I’d never heard.  None of the drinks are particularly unusual and there is no tantalizing mention of tequila or vodka being used.  However, you will find drinks calling for Boker’s Bitters and Absinthe!  Brief historical information about the original publisher and other cocktail books from the period are also included.  GSN Rating: B-

indexLiquid Vacation – 77 Refreshing Tropical Drinks From Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas by P. Moss (Stephens Press)  For lovers of mid-century modern kitsch and tiki culture, this book is just the ticket.  Surprisingly, considering you can find virtually everything in the sin city, there is only one tiki bar in all of Las Vegas and it is Frankie’s Tiki Room.  This book is basically a menu of all of their original drinks with photos and recipes, plus the usual lineup of classic faux tropical beverages from the Mai Tai to the Zombie.  What sets this volume apart from just a pretty book of recipes are the sections on the history of Tiki Culture in Vegas, when it was hip; as well as vintage bars that sadly are long gone.  Of note are dozens of original illustrations by the artist known simply as “Squid”.  The only thing missing is a CD of exotica to listen to while you fire up the blender and dig out the tiki mugs and swizzle sticks.  GSN Rating: B+

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IMG_0803At first glance, this sure looks like a classic martini; gin, dry vermouth and the ubiquitous orange bitters.  However, there is one major difference.  This one calls for an orange twist, instead of a lemon twist.  It is this that makes it perhaps more approachable, along with a slightly higher ratio of vermouth to gin.  I used an extra long twist (which I actually twisted into a knot) to get a huge spray of orange oil on the surface.  Just dandy!

Created by Jim Meehan, he has this to say about its inspiration.  “I created this Astoria cocktail variation at Gramercy Tavern after acquiring a copy of Albert Stevens Crockett’s Old Waldorf Bar Days.”

Astoria Bianco
2 oz gin
0.75 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Garnish: orange twist

Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Add orange twist.

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Food & Wine Cocktails 2012 by Dana Cowin & Jim Meehan (Food & Wine Books)  Another in the excellent series of annuals published by Food & Wine Magazine.  If you want to get an accurate snapshot of what’s happening in top bars around the U.S., this is the one volume to get.  This year, they’ve revamped the content to an alphabetical list of the classic cocktails that includes several new variations on each by about fifty top mixologists.  Other sections include recipes for party food, and a recommended list of the top 100 American bars.  GSN Rating: A

Cuban Cocktails by Anastasia Miller & Jared Brown (Mixellany)  More than just a follow-up to Anastasia & Jared’s previous volume Cuba: The Legend of Rum, this new book details the development of important Cuban cocktails including the Cuba Libre, Daiquiri, Mojito and Pina Colada.  As with all of their books, there is a lot of research and history here.  But what makes it invaluable are the myriad variations of recipes in chronological order culled from many rare and obscure sources.  As an example there are almost 50 different versions of the Daiquiri from the last 275 years to play around with.  Kudos to the authors for bringing an oft neglected, but quite important segment of cocktailian development to light.  GSN Rating: A-

gaz regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails 2012 (Mixellany)  Literally gaz’s hand-picked choices of cocktails as submitted to him for consideration.  No particular theme or style is represented, but this is rather a compendium of creations from bartenders around the globe.  Each cocktail has a short piece on its creation by the mixologist, along with the recipe and a b&w photo of it.  This makes for a fun sojourn into new realms, which will require you to make more than a few trips to the store to track down obscure spirits and ingredients to make your own infusions and garnishes.  GSN Rating: B

Destination: Cocktails by James Teitelbaum (Santa Monica Press)  If there were one book published this year that made me jealous, it would have to be this one.  James has somehow managed to take the vision and style of travel guides like those published by Fodor’s and Frommer’s and apply it to bar hopping.  And what a long strange trip it is.  Starting with the premise that a bar that has great cocktails is worthy of a visit, he globe hops from New York (arguably the primordial bastion of the great American libation) all the way to far-flung Australia with many stops in between.  Along the way, a picture is painted of how bar-craft and bars themselves have developed over the past few centuries.  Lots of b&w photos grace the pages, along with several of the author’s own cocktail recipes, making this a hefty 400+ page tome.  If you find yourself in one of the over forty major cities, you WILL want to have this book with you to plan your visit.  My only question is, with most of these cocktails ranging in price from $10-20 each, who will foot the bill if I choose to follow his trail.  GSN Rating: A

Traditional Distillation: Art & Passion by Hubert Germain-Robin (White Mule Press)  Not a cocktail book by any means, this is a brief, yet fairly comprehensive look at how to distill grape brandies.  Of particular interest to cocktailians is the section on tasting the finished product.  Understanding what to look for in a spirit, and how to do it, is the next big leap forward in mixology after learning the basics of shaking and stirring.  A very nice selection of full-color period advertisements and alembic still blueprints are included, making this less of a dry treatise and more of an artistic statement on the craft.  The first in a planned series of books, this is a fine start to a promising collection.  GSN Rating: B+

Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons (Ten Speed Press)  With the endless cocktail books that seem to come out on a weekly basis, it is surprising that there aren’t more volumes on one of the essentials of pre-prohibition drinks.  “Bitters” delivers, and then some.  An up-to-the-minute look at the dozens of new craft bitters on the market, along with a dozen recipes for making your own forms the foundation of this work.  As if this weren’t enough, there is a section on setting up your bar, a lengthy list of classic and new-wave bittered cocktails with gorgeous mouth-watering color photos of the drinks and an intriguing collection of food recipes that call for bitters.  I honestly, cannot recommend this book highly enough, as it is beautifully produced, well written and comprehensive in scope.  GSN Rating: A+

Slushed! by Jessie Cross (Adams Media)  I’ve often thought that frozen alcoholic desserts are an area just begging for further exploration.  “Slushed!” fills the bill handily.  Everything from popsicles, ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, mousse, granitas, sorbets, sherbets, and even frozen cakes and ice-cream sandwiches are here with easy to follow directions.  A lot of these will be perfect for the finishing touch to a spirited dinner party, or a lively alternative to the usual over-sweet freezer treats that leave you wishing you hadn’t eaten afterwards.  There are a smattering of color photos, but the real treats are the creative and luscious recipes.  GSN Rating: B+

Never Cook Sober Cookbook by Stacy Laabs & Sherri Field (Adams Media)  As if you needed an excuse to drink from morning until night, here is your justification.  Not a book about drinking while cooking (not recommended), but a book about using spirits and liqueurs in your food; this book starts with a hearty breakfast of everything from tequila eggs to Frangelico French toast, then moves on to a filling lunch of vodka turkey wraps, wine pasta and beer hot dogs, and finally tucking in to a dinner of rum fajitas, gin shrimp and brandy steaks.  If you still have room after all of that, there’s a collection of boozy desserts to cap off the meal.  An interesting drink/food pairing also accompanies each recipe.  Unfortunately, there are no pictures, but if you have a vivid imagination, you can certainly imagine the flavors by reading the recipes out loud.  GSN Rating: B

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Well, after a delay with my airlines due to President Obama flying in to New Orleans at the same time as I, (different plane tho’), I made it down late Wednesday afternoon.  I immediately checked in to registration at the Hotel Monteleone and hastily strolled down to the Napoleon House for a few drinks crafted by the inestimable Jim Meehan.  It sure was good to have a cocktail in NOLA again!  After only a few minutes, I ran into my fellow blogger and friend, Stephanie Jerzy and her co-worker Kayla Joyce.  Check out their stuff here.  One of the realizations I’ve made after my trips to Tales and other cocktail events, is that even though I have a huge circle of friends in this business, I don’t often get to see them very often.  So, lesson number one of Tales is that it is first and foremost a way to connect and reconnect with others.  And what better way to do it, than over a few drinks?

Here’s a picture of new friend Kayla, myself and Stephanie.

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