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We’re continuing our mission to be the Match.com of cookbooks (for general purpose picks, let us know how you like your eggs; for baking books, we just need to know your spirit cake). This year’s crop of exciting drink books all have distinct feels—and distinct readers who’d want to work their way through them.
Pick which item is essential to your (or your gift recipient’s) cocktail making, and we’ll spit out the perfect new cocktail book:
- Custom ice
- Aperol and citrus
- Anything bitter
- A craft, preferably obscure beer
- Gins, plural
- A copy of Death & Co.
What's Your Cocktail Essential?
If it's custom ice... your drink book is Regarding Cocktails by Sasha Petraske
Because the New York City bar Milk & Honey didn’t have space for an ice maker when it first opened, owner Sasha Petraske—who’s credited with inventing the craft cocktail movement— had to make his own. He’d freeze ice in pans and carve the right shape for the drink. This savviness was ultimately copied in craft cocktail bars nationwide.
Someone who cares about the ice in their drink is a serious cocktail maker. And if you’re that person, Regarding Cocktails, Petraske’s book, published posthumously, is right for you. As Megan explained in her review, the message of the book is: “If you want something done well, there are no shortcuts.”
If it's Aperol and citrus... you'll want Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau
Spritz is best read and enjoyed by a pool or in a piazza in Italy, sun shining and drink bubbling. It's an effervescent look at Italy's aperitivo cocktail culture; there's history—and of course Aperol Spritzes—but you'll also find fun recipes for lesser-known old-school and modern spritzes (many of which are easy to pull off if you already have Aperol and lemon).
If you'll drink anything bitter... Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons
Amaro by Brad Thomas Parsons is an ode and guide to the untamed world of amaro, the bitter liqueur that everyone loves to love (you like Campari, right?), but that no one exactly understands. You’ll be sure to pick up more than one new bitter cocktail you’ll add to your Negroni-Negroni-Negroni rotation. My favorite chapter: milkshakes!
If it's a craft, preferably obscure, beer... Food & Beer by Daniel Burns and Jeppe Jarnit-Bjersø
Only in a hidden restaurant in Brooklyn will you find a bohemian Danish beer brewer and a Michelin-starred chef pairing serious beer with serious food. In Food & Beer, their debut book and the first on beer pairing, you will learn not just about the tenants of making craft beer, but also about how to even start pairing it with both upscale and usual bar-inspired food.
If it's rum, all the rum... Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki by Martin Cate
Maybe you like tiki because you like rum, or maybe you like rum because you adore tiki. Either way, with rum comes tiki, and with tiki, if you're serious about it, comes Smuggler's Cove, the book from the mecca of modern tiki.
Whether you’re looking for a new favorite cocktail, tips on how to trick out your home tiki grotto, help stocking your bar with great rums, or inspiration for your next tiki party, Smuggler’s Cove has everything you need to infuse your world with authentic tiki.
If you always have gin... then you'll want The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Frank Caiafa
New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel—and its most iconic bar, Peacock Alley—has weathered the ebbs and flows of tastes and trends, mostly by maintaining the glitzy lore of yesteryear that makes “a classic” eternal. Peacock Alley’s current bar manager Frank Caiafa spent over 3 years researching the hotel’s cocktail program—and cocktails in general—to revise the the hotel's bar book, which was last published in 1934.
In the revised edition, Caiafa professes that any elementary bar collection needs to have two types of gin (London dry gin, Old Tom Gin)—plus genever, white rum, rye whiskey, and cognac. So with these essentials and your playbook in the house (and probably some coupes), you'll be arm's reach from cocktails that twinkle with that old New York luster.
If you have a copy of Death & Co.... you'll want A Proper Drink: How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World by Robert Simonson
For those who've guzzled up the craft cocktail movement like a superbly made Sazerac, A Proper Drink is a tipsy tale for you. To weave the narrative of the modern day movement (and thereby explain why you were able to order that great Sazerac), Simonson interviewed more than 200 bartenders, industry players, and just plain good drinkers. You'll meet affable bartenders who roll their eyes at the term "mixologist" and mixologists who take that title very seriously, as well as mad cocktail geniuses, plucky upstarts, lovingly misanthropic bar owners, and the personalities in between.
What's the oldest (or newest) cocktail book you own? Tell us in the comments!