Back in February, we dedicated nearly a full month to reviews on books based around alcohol as the main subject. While this post could serve as compendium to that month, here are a few more ideas for last minute stocking stuffers. Read anything not on our list that we missed, or suggestions for alternatives? Drop us a line in the comments section! We’re always looking for more to read.
For the whiskey fans in your life (or yourself), a few books from the heart of Kentucky provide hours of entertaining facts, recipes and historical anecdotes. Derek Bell’s Alt Whiskeys looks into the adventurous experiments of his Corsair distillery. Mike Veach’s historical tome on the history of Kentucky bourbon is thoroughly detailed and rich with engaging content, but it might prove to be a bit much for those newly initiated into bourbon culture. Fred Minnick’s Whiskey Women gives a compelling account at the understated, underrated role women played in the making of bourbon and Scotch (our review is forthcoming). Dominic Roskrow’s encyclopedic tome, The World’s Best Whiskies, is a gorgeous, full color affair that is mildly outdated but is an excellent resource with 750 excellent suggestions and selections to consider. With an update to reflect recent expressions, this would no doubt be the book of the year for whiskey fans. Finally, New York Times scribe Clay Risen offers up a new book called American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye, which is a competent, accessible and affordable read.
Historical drinking books were even strong beyond the whiskey world. Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist breaks the origins of drinks down to a near-molecular level, explaining in wonderfully written prose the biology of our everyday drinks. Brad Thomas Parsons’ Bitters acts as a wonderful supplement to The Drunken Botanist, deeply documenting the history of one of the most essential ingredients of any cocktail.
We also saw an abundance of cocktail books hitting the market this year, and Katie Loeb’s Shake, Stir And Pour was among the best of its class, offering a perfect hybrid of quality recipes and affordability. Tim Federle’s gorgeously illustrated Tequila Mockingbird provides literary history lessons with tasty tequila recipes and some seriously wince-worthy puns (“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita”). Tristan Stephenson’s new release (again, review forthcoming) The Curious Bartender is a quick and simple read, giving modern twists to classic favorites but offering clear and simple directions that even the newest of mixologists can follow.