With the holidays well under way, it’s once again time for the Good Spirits News annual round-up of new cocktail, spirits and bartending books.  You’ll be sure to find a few books to gift your favorite bartender or cocktail aficionado.

index Schiller’s Liquor Bar Cocktail Collection by Keith McNally (Clarkson Potter)  An interesting publication composed of four small hardcover books in a slipcase, this set lists over 150 of the cocktails available at NYC’s Schiller’s Liquor Bar.  One book is devoted to barware and techniques of mixology.  The other three are filled with classic cocktail recipes, seasonal drinks and original drinks.  As well, each volume has a short introduction by Keith McNally, but I was left wanting more information on the bar itself and why it became the success it is.  The recipes are interspersed with photographs of the drinks and the bar itself, making this a miniature set of coffee table books.  You may not learn much here, but it will give you an idea of what drinks a successful bar should have on its menu.  GSN Rating: B-

index Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick (Lyons Press)  Dorothy Parker penned the famous witticism “I love a martini, but two at the most.  Three, I’m under the table; four, I’m under the host.”  Of course, there is much more to her than these few lines, including a hefty dose of other prohibition era cocktails.  In this small volume, you will learn about her friendship with some of the leading literary lights of the day at the famous Algonquin Round Table; as well as archival photographs and illustrations from the era.  Many of the recipes are available elsewhere, but seeing them all clustered together one quickly realizes in spite of a lack of quality booze in the 1920′s, people still enjoyed a well-made tipple.  A book for fans of the roaring 20′s, Miss Parker or speakeasies.  GSN Rating: B

images Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks by Maria del Mar Sacasa (Quirk)  Just what the title says.  This is a cookbook for wintery beverages and edibles.  Many of the recipes are variations on classic drinks such as hot chocolate, egg nog and sangria.  As well, this book definitely leans toward a sweet tooth.  Loads of color photos along with easy to follow drink recipes make up the majority of pages, but there is also a section on homemade infused liquors, syrups, sour mixes and tomato juice.  If you’re looking for dessert in a glass, you’ll find one here.  GSN Rating: B-

index Apothecary Cocktails by Warren Bobrow (Fair Winds)  There are literally hundreds of cocktail guides designed to inebriate, but next to none with the goal of restoring and reviving the imbiber.  Warren Bobrow has taken up the challenge with his book of historical and modern recipes crafted to revive the drinker’s corpse, as it were.  Spiral-bound (God bless him!) this book will have you on your feet in no time, whether you’re feeling under the weather, suffering from the common cold, or trying to recuperate from a night of too many drinks.  None of the recipes are difficult to make, and yet each is extremely flavorful and well thought out.  Most of the drinks are accompanied by artfully depicted photographs.  Overall, a well done book which you’ll find yourself reaching for whenever you’re feeling a little under the weather.  GSN Rating: A

images The Long Pour by Adam McDonald (TheBarTenderBook.com)    We all have stories from behind the stick.  Most of them remain as personal memories shared with close friends.  Adam McDonald has done us the favor of collecting dozens of mind-blowing stories from bartenders around the globe.  These aren’t your typical “nudge, nudge” stories either.  Vivid descriptions of sex, drugs and truly idiotic patrons will have your jaw dropping and your eyes tearing up in laughter.  It makes you realize that most of life can indeed be seen while bartending.  I particularly enjoyed the story about the cocaine snorting bartender being hog-tied around a toilet by an undercover cop.  HBO, take note!  These episodes can be your next hit series!  GSN Rating: A-

index Raise the Bar by Jon Taffer (New Harvest)  People either love or hate Jon Taffer’s television show Bar Rescue.  Personally, I find it interesting because it educates the public on what goes on behind the scenes of a bar, successful or not.  If you’ve seen the show, this book will fill in the banks and give you a less volatile (read, reality tv friendly) version of what Jon does in his makeovers.  I wouldn’t say this is required reading for bar owners or employees, but it does make you think.  The real substance of this book are the many practical applications to work ethic and presentation.  If you ever thought you could run the bar you work at, read this and you will at the very least have a better understanding of the business.  GSN Rating: B

index Drink More Whiskey by Daniel Yaffe (Chronicle Books)  More than just a history of whiskey production and a treatise on the vast array of styles available, this small book also has several intriguing cocktails contributed by many of the most accomplished bartenders around the USA.  This is particularly worthwhile since, there is a dearth of non-bourbon and rye based cocktails in publication.  Broken down into country specific chapters including everything from unaged white dog to the latest Japanese styles, you will learn the basics of each style of whiskey.  An interesting blend of entry-level learning, along with leading edge cocktails.  GSN Rating: B-

index Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails by Eric Prum & Josh Williams (W&P Design LLC)  A cocktail guide published by the duo who created the clever Mason Jar Shaker (reviewed by GSN here).  Their vision for this book is three-fold.  Cocktails should be 1) fun 2) simple, 3 social.  Keeping this premise in mind, don’t expect anything that will challenge Tony Conigliaro.  But, these are great original drinks anyone can make at home.  What is particularly engaging, is that each drink is placed within a seasonal section based on what is available in your local market.  You’ll find drinks calling for kale, caper berries, lilac flowers and even cava.  You don’t necessarily need their bespoke shaker to make these drinks, but it helps.  Oh, and the book is liberally filled with beautifully photographed pictures of each drink in a style reminiscent of blueprints.  GSN Rating: B

images The Curious Bartender: The Artistry and Alchemy of Creating the Perfect Cocktail by Tristan Stephenson (Ryland Peters)  A fun and well researched volume on recreating the classic cocktails of the past 150 years using modern methodology.  If you’re a fan of Chef Heston Blumenthal’s creativity, you will find much here to whet your mixological appetite.  Techniques ranging from ageing to smoking cocktails with many stops along the way, will give you plenty of opportunity to experiment.  With 25% of the book devoted to techniques, the remainder is filled with beautiful photographs of both the original and re-envisioned versions along with histories, insights and recipes.  A one page section on resources is helpful, if you’re trying to track down hard to find ingredients and equipment.  GSN Rating: A-


Filed under: Bar Tools