GSN Alert: Cocktail Book Preview – Autumn 2016 (October-December)

Ernest Hemingway drinking and writing at the same time. Now that’s talent!

It’s hard to believe that autumn is here already.  Time to curl up with a good book, a great drink and a thirst for knowledge. Here are some GSN recommended books to be on the lookout for this fall.

51phkdc7uxl-_ac_us160_Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey by Fred Minnick (Voyageur Press) – Bourbon is not just alcohol — this amber-colored drink is deeply ingrained in American culture and tangled in American history. From the early days of raw corn liquor to the myriad distilleries that have proliferated around the country today, bourbon has come to symbolize America. In Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey, award-winning whiskey author Fred Minnick traces bourbon’s entire history, from the 1700s with Irish, Scottish, and French settlers setting up stills and making distilled spirits in the New World through today’s booming resurgence. He also lays out in expert detail the critical role this spirit has played throughout the cultural and even political history of the nation — from Congress passing whiskey-protection laws to consumers standing in long lines just for a glimpse of a rare bottle of Pappy Van Winkle — complemented by more than 100 illustrations and photos. And most importantly, Minnick explores the mystery of who most likely created the sweet corn liquor we now know as bourbon. He studies the men who’ve been championed as its inventors over time — from Daniel Boone’s cousin to Baptist minister Elijah Craig — and, based on new research and never-before-seen documentation, answers the question of who deserves the credit.

51keylluful-_ac_us160_Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons (Ten Speed Press) – The European tradition of making bittersweet liqueurs–called amari in Italian–has been around for centuries. But it is only recently that these herbaceous digestifs have moved from the dusty back bar to center stage in the United States, and become a key ingredient on cocktail lists in the country’s best bars and restaurants. Lucky for us, today there is a dizzying range of amaro available—from familiar favorites like Averna and Fernet-Branca, to the growing category of regional, American-made amaro. Amaro is the first book to demystify this ever-expanding, bittersweet world, and a must-have for any home cocktail enthusiast or industry professional. Starting with a rip-roaring tour of bars, cafés, and distilleries in Italy, amaro’s spiritual home, Brad Thomas Parsons—author of the James Beard and IACP Award–winner Bitters—will open your eyes to the rich history and vibrant culture of amaro today. With more than 100 recipes for amaro-centric cocktails, DIY amaro, and even amaro-spiked desserts, you’ll be living (and drinking) la dolce vita.

51imjwjtbfl-_ac_us160_Whisky Japan: The Essential Guide to the World’s Most Exotic Whisky by Dominic Roskrow (Kodansha USA) – Japanese whisky is finally getting the international recognition it deserves. Originally created to emulate the malts of Scotland, Japanese whiskies now hold a distinct and unique place among other world-class spirits. Yet, despite having a history going back nearly a century, and winning many prestigious awards in recent years (including Whisky Magazine’s World Whiskies Awards in 2016, 2013, 2011, and 2010, and The Whisky Bible’s World Whisky of the Year in 2013), Japanese whiskies have remained enigmatic and exotic. UntiI now. In WHISKY JAPAN, the most comprehensive book on Japanese whisky ever available in English, renowned expert Dominic Roskrow reveals what makes Japanese whisky so special and sought-after by whisky connoisseurs everywhere. He introduces the companies that make Japanese whisky, and offers detailed portraits of these distilleries, explaining their complex production processes, traditions, and the new innovations that have allowed them to take on and surpass the competition. The reader is carried along on a journey to the very heart of Japanese whisky making, with extensive tasting notes for all the leading expressions, a special selection of rare Japanese treasures, profile interviews with key personalities, and over 500 beautiful photographs and illustrations. Here are the whisky makers, blenders, independent bottlers, retailers, collectors, bloggers, and bartenders. There is a lively guide to the best bars around the world in which to taste Japanese whisky, a section on whisky cocktails and food pairings, and useful travel tips on how to get to the distilleries, where to stay, what to eat, and what else there is to do in the area.

51u4ke37fzl-_ac_us160_The Complete Cocktail Manual: 285 Tips, Tricks, and Recipes by Lou Bustamante (Weldon Owen) – Learn everything you need to know to craft the perfect cocktail—or two, or three…but who’s counting? Spirits writer and expert Lou Bustamante, in partnership with the United States Bartenders’ Guild, collects the best cocktail recipes, techniques, and histories in this must-have volume that has a place in every home bar. From worldwide classics to creative new combinations and packed with expert tips from bartenders across the globe, The Complete Cocktail Manual will help you stock your bar, impress your friends, and throw one hell of a party.

41qt1gqqc2l-_ac_us160_Regarding Cocktails by Sasha Petraske & Georgette Moger-Petraske (Phaidon Press) – Regarding Cocktails is the only book from the late Sasha Petraske, the legendary bartender who changed cocktail culture with his speakeasy-style bar Milk & Honey. Here are 85 cocktail recipes from his repertoire—the beloved classics and modern variations—with stories from the bartenders he personally trained. Ingredients, measurements, and preparations are beautifully illustrated so that readers can make professional cocktails at home. Sasha’s advice for keeping the home bar, as well as his musings, are collected here to inspire a new generation of bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts.

41unu560xvl-_ac_us160_The Canon Cocktail Book: Recipes from the Award-Winning Bar by Jamie Boudreau & James O. Fraioli (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – Home to the Western Hemisphere’s largest spirit collection, Seattle bar Canon: Whiskey and Bitters Emporium has achieved unprecedented, worldwide acclaim. Named Best Bar in America by Esquire, Canon received Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards for World’s Best Drinks Selection (2013) and World’s Best Spirits Selection (2015), and Drinks International included it on their prestigious World’s 50 Best Bars list. In his debut, legendary bartender and Canon founder Jamie Boudreau offers 100 cocktail recipes ranging from riffs on the classics, like the Cobbler’s Dream and Corpse Reviver, to their lineup of original house drinks, such as the Truffled Old Fashioned and the Banksy Sour. In addition to tips, recipes, and formulas for top-notch cocktails, syrups, and infusions, Boudreau breaks down the fundamentals and challenges of opening and running a bar—from business plans to menu creation. The Canon Cocktail Book is poised to be an essential drinks manual for both the at-home cocktail enthusiast and bar industry professional.

imagesTequila Cocktails by Brian Van Flandern (Assouline) – Tequila Cocktails is the fourth in Brian Van Flandern’s series of award-winning books, centering on Casamigos Tequila by George Clooney, Rande Gerber, and Mike Meldman. This volume shines a spotlight on the title beverage: the smoothest, best-tasting tequila from their master distiller in Jalisco, Mexico, with a taste so good that adding salt or lime would be gilding the lily. The Blanco, Reposado, and Añejo varieties are truly the quintessence of Mexico’s favorite beverage. This volume includes sixty delectable recipes.

511dorr5kxl-_ac_us160_Grog: A Bottled History of Australia’s First 30 Years by Tom Gilling (Hachette Australia) – The marines on the First Fleet refused to sail without it. Convicts risked their necks to get hold of it. Rum built a hospital and sparked a revolution, made fortunes and ruined lives. In a society with few luxuries, liquor was power. It played a crucial role, not just in the lives of individuals like James Squire – the London chicken thief who became Australia’s first brewer – but in the transformation of a starving penal outpost into a prosperous trading port. Drawing on a wealth of contemporary sources, Grog offers an intoxicating look at the first decades of European settlement and explores the origins of Australia’s fraught love affair with the hard stuff.

GSN’s One For the Road: NYC BAR Review: June 12-14, 2009

I had the opportunity to go to New York City a few weeks
ago, and took the opportunity to check out a variety of cocktail lounges and
bars.  As I was staying at the Hudson Hotel in Manhattan, I made Private
, their unique second floor open air cocktail pavilion my first
stop.  After a six hour drive to the
city, I was in desperate need of a thirst quencher.  Upon asking for a cocktail menu, I recognized
name as the creator of a drink on the list; but decided upon a muddled
blackberry and bourbon concoction to start things off.  $14 was rather steep for a drink that disappeared
much too quickly, so I opted to find another location for dinner and more

I took the subway into Greenwich Village and walked around
taking in the atmosphere.  The weather
was perfect, so I decided on a Mexican Tapas restaurant called Mercadito Grove with outdoor
café style seating.  Most of their house
drinks called for tequila, so I ordered two with dinner that sounded
interesting.  The Mercado was a blend of blanco tequila, pineapple and lime juice, and
chile pequin.  The Siempre es Pera consisted of jimador blanco, pear, lime and spiced
salt.  Both were quite tasty, and went
very well with the excellent food.

Saturday afternoon was spent exploring Brooklyn, with a stop
at Montague
Wine & Spirits
where I picked up some hard to find Amaros and a bottle
of Maraska liqueur.  The staff was helpful and the store had a
great selection.  Later, I stopped at the
Clover Club for an appetizer and a
trio of cocktails: A Lima Sour, a Bermuda Rum Swizzle and a Corpse Reviver #2 for good
measure.  I spent some time talking with Chris Stanley who was behind
the stick at the time.    I was highly impressed with not only his
knowledge, but that he was a reader of Good Spirits News!  Word gets around apparently.

Later that evening, I decided to check out Sasha Petraske’s latest venture called Dutch Kills.  If you go, be sure to bring cash as they do
not accept credit cards.  The façade of
the club was certainly unimposing as it was marked with a single glowing red
neon sign that simply said “BAR”.  Upon
walking inside, I was greeted by the host who was dressed in clothing appropriate
to the Prohibition era.  I opted to sit
at a booth, as it was uncomfortably hot at the bar.  The cocktail menu was slight with only a few select
offerings.  Nonetheless, they were
certainly impressive and affordable.  A tequila based
creation had one huge hand carved chunk of ice keeping it cool in a rocks
glass.  The other was served in a vintage
style martini glass.  Both were tasty and
well executed in presentation.

My criticisms of Dutch
are few, but in need of changing if I were to return.  There was retro style 80’s music playing
through tinny speakers, which totally killed the 1920’s atmosphere.  As well, there was literally no décor.  Very dark wood everywhere, with no period
artwork or anything interesting to look at.
Another nice touch would be something to read along the lines of the Clover Club’s informative menu.  After a long day, I had hoped for some quiet respite
and unfortunately did not find it here.

Sunday, I had to head back home, but decided to make one
more stop for drinks at the Hudson Hotel’s
15th floor Sky Terrace
Lounge.  The day was warm, so I tried a
blackberry caipirinha and a port based Collins.
With the tip, my wallet was $40 lighter; but spiritually fortified, I reluctantly
descended the escalator and began the long drive home.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, “I’ll be back.”