Fall 2021 brings a strong and holiday-gifting-ready crop of new booze-related books. The pandemic pushed a number of books from spring to fall 2021, and some even further into 2022, but there’s plenty on offer in time for the holiday season.
This year’s big-ticket gift items include a boxed book and ephemera set aimed at Kentucky bourbon-philes and a hefty encyclopedic guide to a broad swath of the cocktails and spirits universe.
Meanwhile, it seems like there’s a cocktail book to suit every interest. There’s a book for those who love art (Art Boozel); hip-hop music (Can I Mix You a Drink, from T-Pain); flowers (The Flower-Infused Cocktail) or the occult (Spirits of the Underworld). While it’s tempting to fret that these books don’t exactly center cocktail culture, instead it’s worth celebrating that these books can help spark interest in drinks through the lens of other pastimes, encouraging a broader set of people to pick up a cocktail shaker.
However, for those seeking a more serious approach to learning about cocktail-making, two forthcoming volumes stand out: Welcome Home, the third book from the Death & Co team, and The Way of the Cocktail, a drill-down on Japanese-style cocktails, from the proprietor of Chicago cocktail bar Kumiko.
Whether you’re thinking about books to gift or to get, these notable newcomers offer something for every type of drinker.
Jennifer Croll (Chronicle Books, $19)
The title is a play on the annual Art Basel festival. The book includes 50 “tribute recipes” inspired by painters, sculptors, photographers, and other artists. Think tomato garnishes inspired by Andy Warhol and his famous Campbell’s Soup series or a flower-infused syrup to honor Georgia O’Keeffe and her work.
Clay Risen (Ten Speed Press, $85)
Timed to arrive for the holiday gifting season, this swanky set includes a deluxe illustrated history of and guide to Kentucky bourbon, featuring framing-quality reproductions of archival photographs, rare bottle labels, and more. For those with slimmer budgets (or bookshelves), an $18 Kindle edition also is available.
T-Pain with Maxwell Britten (Kingston Imperial, $30)
The name is based on hip-hop artist T-Pain’s 2007 single “Can I Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’).” Combining elements of music and mixology, each drink in this book, co-authored with former Maison Premiere bartender Britten, is designed to reflect a sentiment from one of T-Pain’s songs.
Steven Grasse and Adam Erace, with recipes by Lee Noble (Running Press, $28)
From the team behind Philadelphia spirits shop Art in the Age, this book takes a deep dive into 20 classic drinks, plus customizable riffs on flavors, techniques, and ingredients for elaborating on those core cocktails.
Continue to 5 of 10 below.
Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan, with Devon Tarby and Tyson Buhler (Ten Speed Press, $40)
More than 400 recipes anchor this lavishly illustrated book from the proprietors of the Death & Co. bar chain in New York, Denver, and Los Angeles and the authors of Cocktail Codex. It’s all about helping readers find everything needed to make and serve impressive drinks at home.
Alyson Brown (Folk Publishing, $30)
From the Bend, Oregon-based founder of Wild Folk Flower Apothecary, this self-published book focuses on how to infuse drinks with flowers, ranging from elements such as base spirits, tinctures, shrubs, and cordials to salts and sugars that incorporate edible blossoms in some way. Consider, for example, a classic Old Fashioned glammed up with a “pansy sugar cube.”
Prairie Rose (Rockridge Press, $13)
Intended to help demystify craft cocktails for beginners, this book includes basic cocktail terms and techniques. Its recipes are a mix of classics and creations from acclaimed bartenders and well-established bars from around the world. Full disclosure: Rose is the commerce editor at Liquor.com.
David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum (Oxford University Press, $65)
This scholarly reference book focused on spirits, including production processes, culture, and history, as well as cocktails, cocktail bars, and influential bartenders. Experts from all over the industry have contributed to this in-depth illustrated guide. Appendices include a timeline of spirits and distillation and a guide to mixing drinks.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
Allison Crawbuck and Rhys Everett (Prestel, $20)
Blending mixology and magic, this book examines the esoteric philosophies that have fueled the dark arts of their times, and links them to themed cocktails like the Oak and Mistletoe, reminiscent of ancient European forests, or the Devil’s Daughter, which pays tribute to England’s most famous prophetess, Mother Shipton.
Julia Momosé with Emma Janzen (Clarkson Potter, $32)
Kyoto native Julia Momosé, now the proprietor of Chicago bar Kumiko, delves deep in this book, one of a few new Japanese-cocktail-focused books. One of its most charming aspects is the emphasis on “microseasons,” the 72 subdivisions of the traditional Japanese calendar, with vivid, poetic names. Momosé uses these microseasons to organize the drink recipes and introduce ingredients, many sourced from Japan.