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It’s looking to be a long winter, so why not curl up with a good book?  GSN presents the latest round-up of new titles coming out in the next three months.  Learn some new tricks, brush up on your knowledge, and try a new cocktail or two!

The Pocket Guide to Whisky by Blair Bowman (Birlinn Pocket Guides) The ever-expanding world of whisky can be a daunting one, with a deluge of new brands, distilleries and literature on the subject making it all but impossible for the amateur whisky drinker to find their feet in the industry. Following on from the bestselling Pocket Guide to Wine, Blair Bowman provides a compact and accessible, easy-to-use guide to help budding whisky enthusiasts on their way. Uniquely, The Pocket Guide to Whisky explores every kind of whisky, from the well known Scottish giants of Glenlivet, to the exotic Japanese Hibiki, and includes the ever-growing and hotly debated blended whiskies too! This little volume will tell you everything you need to know, from what to look for in whisky and what to avoid, to getting the best value for money to the perfect accompaniments to your dram and the ideal whisky for every occasion. From novice to expert, this guide enables whisky lovers to find out more about the brands they already like and to make informed choices as they explore further.

Whiskies Galore: A Tour of Scotland’s Island Distilleries by Ian Buxton (Birlinn Ltd) Island whiskies have long held a fascination and a powerful emotional draw on whisky drinkers the world over. Their special combination of heritage, mystique, and remote location captures the imagination; their highly distinctive flavours are often imitated but seldom bettered. There have been few books on island whisky and none written in recent years. But Whiskies Galore is not your average whisky book. It is not merely a catalogue of distilleries, but a story of discovery and adventure. Join Ian Buxton on a personal journey across Scotland’s islands, where he learns to shoot with high explosives, ends up hurling his dinner into the sea, and comes face to face with a basking shark. Combining an expert’s knowledge of whisky with a travel writer’s fondness for anecdote, and with a keen description of place, he provides a special treat for all who love the islands’ magical drams.

The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Spirits: Selecting and Savoring Whiskey, Vodka, Scotch, Rum, Tequila . . . and Everything Else (An Expert’s Guide … and Savoring Every Spirit in the World) by Richard Carleton Hacker (Skyhorse Publishing) Everyone thinks that they know how to drink, but do you really know the difference between a scotch and a whiskey? How about a gin or vodka martini? Do you know whether Johnny Walker is a single malt or a scotch? Well now is the time to finally learn the definitive answers to these questions, and so many more that you’ve always had about your favorite drinks. In The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking, world-class connoisseur and celebrated critic Richard Carleton Hacker provides you with all the information that you’ll ever need to properly enjoy and imbibe very type of spirit, and to start drinking alcohol the right way. Complete more than a 100 full color photographs, The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking is a perfect buy for every alcohol consumer, whether novice or aficionado. With The Connoisseur’s Guide to Worldwide Drinking you’ll be the most knowledgeable drinker in every bar that you walk into and at every cocktail party that you attend.

What a Swell Party It Was!: Rediscovering Food & Drink from the Golden Age of the American Nightclub by Michael Turback (Skyhorse Publishing) Opening this book is like swinging open the doors to another time and place, when big city life was a unique mixture of innocence and sophistication, romance and formality. It spotlights twenty-five legendary clubs that thrived in the 1930s and ’40s, just as Jazz exploded into mainstream popularity and alcohol was no longer illegal to serve. Through these pages and recipes, enter past the proverbial velvet rope into establishments forever-immortalized, such as Chez Paree in Chicago, Café Trocadero in Hollywood, The Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles, The Blue Room in New Orleans, and New York City’s Cotton Club. In addition to including entrée, appetizer, dessert, and cocktail recipes from their original menus, each featured venue will be introduced with vivid anecdotes and history, narrated in a breezy style and illustrated with reproductions of vintage photos.

Sunny’s Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World by Tim Sultan (Random House Trade Paperbacks) The first time he saw Sunny’s Bar, in 1995, Tim Sultan was lost, thirsty for a drink, and intrigued by the single bar sign among the forlorn warehouses lining the Brooklyn waterfront. Inside, he found a dimly lit room crammed with maritime artifacts, a dozen well-seasoned drinkers, and, strangely, a projector playing a classic Martha Graham dance performance. Sultan knew he had stumbled upon someplace special. What he didn’t know was that he had just found his new home. Soon enough, Sultan has quit his office job to bar tend full-time for Sunny Balzano, the bar’s owner. A wild-haired Tony Bennett lookalike with a fondness for quoting Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett, Sunny is truly one of a kind. Born next to the saloon that has been in his family for one hundred years, Sunny has over the years partied with Andy Warhol, spent time in India at the feet of a guru, and painted abstract expressionist originals. But his masterpiece is the bar itself, a place where a sublime mix of artists, mobsters, honky-tonk musicians, neighborhood drunks, nuns, longshoremen, and assorted eccentrics rub elbows. Set against the backdrop of a rapidly transforming city, Sunny’s Nights is a loving and singular portrait of the dream experience we’re all searching for every time we walk into a bar, and an enchanting memoir of an unlikely and abiding friendship.

Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned by Alba Huerta & Marah Stets (Lorena Jones Books) Craft cocktail maven Alba Huerta succinctly tells the story of drinking in the South through themes such as “Trading with the Enemy,” “the Rural South,” “the Drinking Society,” “the Saltwater South,” and others that anchor the menu at her destination bar, Julep. With historical overviews, 15 bar snack recipes, and 65 bespoke cocktail recipes, ranging from the iconic Mint Julep (and variations such as Rye Julep and Sparkling Julep) to modern inventions like the Snakebit Sprout, Liquid Currency, and Hot July, Huerta recounts the tales and traditions that define drinking culture in the American South today. Approximately 80 evocative cocktail and location photographs convey the romance and style that distinguish Julep and serve to inspire beverage enthusiasts to relive Southern history via the bar cart.

Belgian Abbey Beers by Jef Van den Steen (Lannoo Publishers) Belgian beer expert Jef Van den Steen looks at the history and production of all thirty Belgian abbey beers. What are the remarkable stories about this authentic, labor-intensive product? In which way are Trappist beers different from the others? In Belgian Abbey Beers, Jef Van den Steen unravels the different stages in the production process of the beers and talks very passionately about the origin and development of the various breweries within the walls or under the license of the abbey. Each brewery is presented with practical information, different types of beer, and tips for tourists. Photographer Andrew Verschetze magnificently captures the beers from the barrel to the glass.

 

 

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51jb+4zjjsL._SX392_BO1,204,203,200_Brooklyn Spirits PB: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough by Peter Thomas Fornatale and Chris Wertz (powerHouse Books) In the popular tradition of farm-to-table cookbooks, Brooklyn Spirits: Craft Distilling and Cocktails from the World’s Hippest Borough, is the first distillery-to-glass cocktail book. Over the past two decades, Brooklyn has become the epicenter of a Slow Food-inspired food and drink revolution. Brooklyn distillers, restaurateurs, bartenders, and cocktail aficionados are changing the way we drink by bringing back old techniques and recipes, and creating new ones that focus on small-batch distilling and fresh, local ingredients. In 2002, craft distilling was made legal in New York State for the first time since Prohibition. Many Brooklyn-based producers such as Greenhook Ginsmiths, Cacao Prieto, Industry City Distilling, Brueckelen, and others have taken advantage of this.

51MwpbTP+-L._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_ReMixology: Classic Cocktails, Reconsidered and Reinvented by Julia Hastings-Black & Michael Turback (Skyhorse Publishing) History tells us that once a cocktail achieved prominence at the bar, the impulse to invent variations has been irresistible. ReMixology is a celebration of time-honored cocktails, the fascinating evolution of their formulas, and the inspiration they provide today’s craft bartenders. This book serves as a re-introduction to ten iconic potions, from the Manhattan to the Whiskey Sour, to the Old Fashioned to the Bloody Mary and more, and explores their progression and development in cocktail culture, and showcases a range of innovative and original, yet accessible interpretations that open the door to new possibilities in drinking and entertaining.

51TBXGE1GSL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau (Ten Speed Press) From Milan to Los Angeles, Venice to New York, the spritz—Italy’s bitter and bubbly aperitivo cocktail—has become synonymous with a leisurely, convivial golden hour. But the spritz is more than just an early evening cocktail—it’s a style of drinking. In Spritz, Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau trace the drink’s origins to ancient Rome, uncover its unlikely history and culture, explore the evolution of aperitivo throughout Northern Italy, and document the spritz’s revival around the world. From regional classics to modern variations, Spritz includes dozens of recipes from some of America’s most lauded bartenders, a guide to building a spritz bar, and a collection of food recipes for classic Italian snacks to pair alongside.

51oJ6u8-0zL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails by Matthew Biancaniello (Dey Street Books) Matthew Biancaniello, the former cocktail chef for the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s famous Library Bar, is creating cocktails the world has never tasted before. Going beyond the quotidian Whiskey Sour or Tom Collins, Biancaniello is mixing it up with imaginative drinks such as “The Heirloom Tomato Mojito”, a twenty-five-year-aged balsamic vinegar and strawberry libation named “The Last Tango in Modena,” and a fresh arugula-infused “Roquette.” One of the fastest-rising and most unique talents in the world of bartending, Biancaniello crafts exciting new drinks based on farm-fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients. A complement to farm-to-table dining, his fresh take on cocktails is ushering in a new age of drinking: “farm-to-glass”, and with the addition of his foraging and gardening methods, “ground to glass.” Captured in gorgeous full-color photographs, the libations in Eat Your Drink are both aesthetically beautiful and delicious.

61o+1hfFm6L._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_Brooklyn Bar Bites: Great Dishes and Cocktails from New York’s Food Mecca by Barbara Scott-Goodman & Jennifer May (Rizzoli) This lively cookbook celebrates Brooklyn’s happening bar culture—from the mixologists who craft classic and original cocktails to the talented chefs who create delicious dishes made with fresh-from-the-market ingredients to accompany the drinks. Brooklyn Bar Bites covers the offerings of the current crop of popular neighborhood bars, cocktail lounges, and restaurants. A variety of classic and inventive cocktails from Brooklyn’s best bartenders—from a Classic Old Fashioned to a Kimchi Bloody Mary—are showcased. The accompanying dishes range from simple bar snacks, sandwiches, and crostini to small plates. Recipes include Grilled Scallop Ceviche, Ricotta Crostini, and Southern-Style Crispy Pimento Cheese. This entertaining cookbook is also filled with anecdotes about the eateries and their locales. Among the bars featured are the Long Island Bar, a once-gritty riverfront joint that is now an elegant cocktail lounge; Clover Club, with its old-world speakeasy vibe; and Williamsburg’s chic Maison Premiere, known for its oyster bar happy hour and absinthe cocktail menu. With stunning food and location photography, Brooklyn Bar Bites is the perfect companion for food lovers and a must for home mixologists.

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Here are a few GSN recommended books to be on the lookout for in the next few months.

51yIYaWJjhL._AA160_Cocktails at Dinner: Daring Pairings of Delicious Dishes and Enticing Mixed Drinks by Michael Turback and Julia Hastings-Black (Jan 6, 2015)  Cocktails at Dinner is equal parts cookbook and bar book. It explores a fascinating edge of the culinary frontier—food and cocktail pairings—with an imaginative collection of companionable recipes.  Michael Turback and Julia Hastings-Black have recruited working chefs and bartenders from forty-four progressive restaurants with innovative cocktail programs—each contributing the recipe for a cocktail paired with the recipe for a compatible small plate, main plate, or dessert. The process or methodology by which chef and bartender work in consort and their joint efforts to stretch palate perspectives are explored in lively headnotes, guiding the reader along the sensorial journey. 

indexShaking Up Prohibition in New Orleans: Authentic Vintage Cocktails from A to Z by Olive Leonhardt and Hilda Phelps Hammond (Mar 4, 2015)  Originally assembled by Olive Leonhardt and Hilda Phelps Hammond around 1929, this delightful compendium applauds the city’s irrepressible love for cocktails in the format of a classic alphabet book. Leonhardt, a noted artist, illustrated each letter of the alphabet, while Hammond provided cocktail recipes alongside tongue-in-cheek poems that jab at the dubious scenario of a “dry” New Orleans. A cultural snapshot of the Crescent City’s resistance to Prohibition, this satirical, richly illustrated book brings to life the spirit and spirits of a jazz city in the Jazz Age. With an introduction on Prohibition-era New Orleans by historian John Magill and biographical profiles of Leonhardt and Hammond by editor Gay Leonhardt, readers can fully appreciate the setting and the personalities behind this vintage cocktail guide with a Big Easy bent.

51Ql4z+lBoL._AA160_Craft Spirit World: A Guide to the Artisan Spirit-makers and Distillers You Need to Try by Emily Miles (Mar 15, 2015) Distillation is as close as mankind has come to alchemy: turning everything from the humble potato to run-of-the-mill corn into glorious liquor. But there’s nothing like industrialisation to suck the soul out of a process and, with their vast column stills and bulk-buy mentality, that is exactly what the spirit-industry behemoths have managed to do. Cue the micro-distiller – a new breed of artisan producer reigniting our love of spirits and making drinks of quality rather than quantity. Artisan spirits can not only taste better, but each microdistiller has a tale to tell about the ingredients or the dream that led them to lovingly coax each drop of spirit from still to bottle. And we all love a good story. In “Craft Spirit World”, over 100 of the best examples on the market of gin, vodka, rum, whisky, bourbon, cognac and more are revealed, coming from producers dotted across the globe – from New Zealand and South Africa to Scotland, Italy, Canada and the United States. Each entry then covers the history behind the drink, where to get it and, most importantly, what it tastes like.

51j3JrQwQiL._AA160_Cocktails on Tap: The Art of Mixing Spirits and Beer by Jacob Grier and David Reamer (Mar 17, 2015)  Cocktails on Tap brings together two major trends—craft cocktails and craft beer—with more than 50 recipes for mixed drinks that feature beer. Beer has become a favorite ingredient for top bartenders around the world, and this book features the best of these contemporary creations alongside vintage classics. Drinks such as the Mai Ta-IPA put a hoppy twist on a favorite tiki cocktail with the addition of India Pale Ale. The Green Devil boosts the powerful Belgian beer Duvel with juniper-forward London Dry gin and a rinse of aromatic absinthe. In Cocktails on Tap, the vast range of today’s beers—from basic lagers to roasty stouts and sour Belgian ales—is explored and tapped as a resource for making an innovative and delicious array of cocktails.

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Loads of new cocktail books arrived via Reindeer-driven sleigh to the GSN review desk last month.  So, without further ado (ok, just one cocktail before I start. ….  there, that’s better), let’s see what the jolly old elf brought me.

First off, we have All the Gin Joints by Michael Turback.  The dedication is to David Embury (of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks fame) so you know this is already ahead of the pack in terms of content.  Containing a brief introduction about gin and bar tools, the real meat of the book is the collection of 101 recipes by a vast array of cocktailians from Keenan Ahlo to Dushan Zaric.  Most bartenders are from major cities on the East or West coast, but also some relative newcomers to the cocktail scene are represented including some from Phoenix, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT; Clayton, MO and Ithaca, NY.  A lot of fun stuff here with some background info from the mixologists themselves.  The only downside to this affair is that there are zero pictures.  That being said, this is a fantastic tome for any gin lover and is highly recommended!  GSN Rating: A-

The American Cocktail by The Editors of Imbibe Magazine  Imbibe magazine is one of the few publications that I regularly read cover to cover when it arrives.  I was excited to see that they are branching out into books now.  The focus here is on original cocktails (although a few classics like the Seelbach, Ward Eight and Tom & Jerry are included) broken down into regions of the USA: South, Northeast, Midwest, West and West Coast.  The photographs are ultra high quality, as they are in the bi-monthly magazine and the recipes are simple enough that no obscure ingredients or tools are necessary.  Of particular note are the lists of online resources and U.S. distillers.  Truly a snapshot of American cocktail culture one-tenth of the way into the 21st century, this book is well worth adding to your book collection and using regularly.  GSN Rating: A

Bloody Mary by Jeffrey M. Pogash  This is a unique limited edition letterpress printed book,and more of a collectible broadside than something you’ll be refering to on a regular basis.  The focus here is on the history of the Bloody Mary, its creation and creators.  Did I say creators?  Without giving too much away, you will discover within its brief 34 pages who the most likely candidates are and the pros and cons supporting each.   At the end of the book is a recipe for the World’s Best Bloody Mary (according to Mr. Pogash, anyway) which makes a gallon of the stuff.  Nicely done and an interesting read.  Perhaps there will be more of these cocktail books printed in future.  I know I’d certainly be interested.  GSN Rating: B+

Cocktails with Bompas & Parr  I was most excited to see this volume, as the authors are quite well-known in Britain for their unusual cocktail events (aerosol G&T’s anyone?) and bizarre sensory approach to food and beverage.  Loaded with many equally bizarre cocktail photographs (eyeball floating in a Sazerac?), this book also includes a lot of great recipes.  Thankfully, the measurements are given in both British and US terminology.  Half of the book is given over to the usual classics and bar tool info, but the latter half is full of some truly great cocktail finds broken down into the following categories: Old & Obscure, Punches & Party Drinks, and Cures.  There’s also a section on bar snacks including what is undoubtedly a food item that won’t be making an appearance on many American bar menus: Quail Cottage.  All in all, a kind of hybrid coffee table book and at the same time a compendium of British mixological eccentricism.  GSN Rating: A-

Extra Dry, With a Twist by Shaun P. Daugherty  Not a new book, as it was published in 2008, but one that is new to me.  A manual on the qualities and mindset of bartending and not a cocktail guide, this book should be required reading for anyone entering the field.  Honestly, you can save yourself a lot of time and money by sitting down for a few hours and reading this book.  Forget bar school (a waste of money, IMHO) this book will teach you the real things you need to succeed.  I can sum them up here: basic behind the bar skills, customer service, and personal integrity. What makes this book more than just a dry manual, is the personal experience that the author shares.  He gives relevant examples in a conversational way that never speaks down to the reader.  I highly recommend this book as a refresher course, even if you’ve already been bartending for several years.  GSN Rating: A+

Food & Wine Cocktails 2011 – This series has been published going on seven years now and this latest edition gets a thumbs up from none other than Anthony Bourdain, host of “No Reservations”.  You can’t do much better than this book to find out the latest cocktail trends happening around the USA.  A compendium of the “who’s who” of up and comers in the American cocktail world, there are more original recipes in here than virtually any other cocktail guide I’ve seen.  Easily approachable for the novice, this also challenges the thinking of many established bartenders by including sections on cocktail/food pairing, mock-tails and seasonally based drinks.  Personally, I find the resource lists of bar tools, food recipes and top-rated bars across the country to be well worth the price of admission.  This series keeps upping the bar year after year.  Great stuff!  GSN Rating: A+

Home Bar Basics and Not-So-Basics by Dave Stolte – Gary Regan turned me on to this tiny and quite retro volume.  It’s designed to look like it’s been sitting on someone’s back bar shelf for a few decades with the pages slightly tanned along the edges.  What makes this book special are the illustrations by the author.  They are cute, sublime and memorable.  After reading this book, you’ll most likely picture each image when you make the represented drink.  Only 25 recipes are included and virtually all of them standards that you already know, but there are three listed at the very end which are pretty damn cool and could well become new standards: one from Alembic in San Francisco, one from Milk & Honey in NYC and one from The Varnish in L.A.  An extra bonus is a list of everything you’ll need to make all 25 drinks from hardware to garnishes.  GSN Rating: B+

Mr. Boston 75th Anniversary Edition – There’s something to be said for a book that has sold over 11,000,000 copies since it first came out in 1935.  There is a reason for those sales, as well.  The Mr. Boston Bartender’s Guide has had the foresight to evolve with changing tastes, even to the point of no longer pushing their own brand within its pages.  As a series of books (you could go broke trying to collect every edition), the Mr. Boston guides offer a broad timeline of America’s cocktailian fads, with each succeeding edition weeding out the less than stellar drinks and replacing them with better tasting and more balanced beverages.  This new edition features contributions from dozens of USBG members and luminaries, making it very relevant to what’s actually being served in bars across the nation.  Now is a great time to rediscover what makes this book one you can proudly display on your back bar, and even proudly refer to it when a guest asks you for drink you may never have heard of before like the unusually named “Sunset at Gowanus”.  GSN Rating:  A

The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan and Chris Gall (Leather Edition) – Much has been said of this book in the few months since it was first published.  Comparisons to the esoterically beautiful Art Deco inspired “Savoy Cocktail Book” are particularly apt, as this volume has the same visual appeal due to the edgy and captivating woodcut style illustrations by Chris Gall.  Mr. Gall has even designed custom stamping and a gold embossed graphic for the leather bound version, which is a tongue in cheek PDT (Please Don’t Tell) coat-of-arms (hotdog and all).  As a piece of art, this book definitely gets my vote for one of the most beautiful books published this century.  That being said, what of the text and recipes compiled by PDT’s head mixologist Jim Meehan?

I really appreciate the sections on bar design, and the behind the scenes sections on the PDT experience, etiquette and how they stock their pantry.  It gives you a sense of what it takes to create a successful and easily worked bar in a relatively small space, whether entertaining in your own home or if you’re thinking of opening the world’s next great drinking establishment.  Also of note are the sections on seasonal mixology, online resources and cocktail library suggestions.  The bulk of the volume is a compilation of recipes.  Many classic, many easy to make; others nearly impossible unless you’ve got an unlimited bank account.  Of special note are the sources of the recipes and notes by their creators for many of the drinks.  This gives a sense of ongoing history and connectedness to it all in that we are given a unique glimpse into the mystery of working behind the stick.  Really a book which will prove invaluable to experienced bartenders as well as newbies. Even the hotdog recipes rock.  GSN Rating: A+

Vintage Cocktails: Retro Recipes for the Home Mixologist by Amanda Hallay – Catching some of the retro wave of “Mad Men”, this book is primarily aimed towards women who want authentic pre-1970’s cocktail recipes.  No Long Island Iced Tea, Cosmos or Apple-tinis here (thank god!).  Each generally classic recipe is paired with some thoughts by the author and a brief history of it’s origins.  Some unusual cocktails do make an appearance in here.  The Campari Shakerato and Snowball are listed alongside an Algonquin and a Gin Sling.  Overall tho, aside from the colorful and somewhat kitchsy illustrations, there isn’t much here that I’ve not seen printed elsewhere in a better format.  Regardless, it’s nice to find an author who recognizes that not all women want frou-frou drinks.  GSN Rating: B-

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