In traditional publishing, the cycle for shepherding a book from start to finish can take up to two years, meaning that most of the books mentioned here were conceived and executed during the height of the pandemic, when many bars, restaurants, clubs and entertainment venues were closed or just doing their best in survival mode.
Amid that uncertainty, some publishers put cocktail book projects on hold, while others roped in bartenders (from The Violet Hour, The Dead Rabbit, and the former Nitecap, to name just a few) and big-name celebs who suddenly had time on their hands (we’re lookin’ at you, Sammy Hagar).
A new book celebrating Black and Brown mixology should make some welcome waves. Look also to a book that mixes cocktail chemistry with the accessibility of pop-culture references from a YouTube personality. A guide to NYC bars should beckon to those who are thinking about travel (or armchair travel).
For those who are seeking deep-dive reading that spans beyond recipe collections, look to forthcoming volumes on the medicinal history of favorite beverages and a look at the socialist politics of alcohol.
Peering even further ahead, a more robust roster of new book titles is anticipated for the fall/holiday season—typical in any year, but likely to be even more apparent this year in particular, as the book industry limps out of a third year impacted by the pandemic. We’ll look forward to those titles too. But for now, these are a dozen books to inspire pouring and mixing—and, dare we say, entertaining?—all spring and summer long.
Ernie Button (Chronicle Books, $25)
A photographic celebration of single malt Scotch, this book collects nearly 100 photos of —wait for it—the intricate patterns formed in the residue at the bottom of almost-empty whisky glasses, each as different as a snowflake. The photos are accompanied by text from whisky expert Charles MacLean and Princeton science professor Howard A. Stone.
Toby Maloney with Emma Janzen (Clarkson Potter, $33)
The proprietor and team from trailblazing Chicago bar The Violet Hour share a foundational approach to understanding and creating original drinks. Expect detailed insights into The Violet Hour’s greatest recipes, expert tips from bar alumni, and helpful step-by-step illustrations and photographs.
Tamika Hall with Colin Asare-Appiah (Kingston Imperial, $30)
A tribute to the contributions of Black and Brown mixologists, this book features stories about notable industry trailblazers and their contributions, ranging from entrepreneurship and education to “famous firsts,” and collects cocktails from around the globe.
Denis Broci and Nathan McCarley-O’Neill (Octopus Publishing, $30)
This sleek book from the London hotel spans 150 years of classics and other drinks. In addition to recipes, the book takes readers behind the scenes, revealing secrets such as how many glasses of Champagne are served per year (34,425) and the most expensive cocktail ever sold at Claridge’s (a £1,000 Old Fashioned made with a 1905 Gibson’s rye whiskey).Continue to 5 of 12 below.
Nick Fisher (S&S/Simon Element, $26)
The host of the Cocktail Chemistry YouTube channel offers this science-minded cocktail book that covers topics including how to make clear ice, foams, infusions, and how to flame a citrus peel. Each section starts with a pop-culture-inspired drink recipe, and from there expands on pro tools, techniques, and cocktail inspirations.
Camper English (Penguin Books, $18)
Beer-based wound care, deworming with wine, whiskey for snakebites, and medicinal mixers to defeat malaria, scurvy, and plague: This book examines the interconnected history of alcohol and medicine from ancient to modern times.
Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails, with 100+ Recipes for Low- and No-Alcohol Drinks
Natasha David (Clarkson Potter, $27)
From the proprietor of now-shuttered NYC bar Nitecap, this lively, sparkly book focuses on celebratory drinks, most of which are low- or zero-proof. Disco ball optional.
Amanda Schuster (Cider Mill Press, $17)
Also the author of New York Cocktails, drinks expert and native New Yorker Schuster offers this illustrated guide to drinking dens in all five boroughs, including many out-of-the-way spots and profiles of some of the best bartenders you’ve never heard of but should know.
Continue to 9 of 12 below.
James Wilt (Penguin Random House, $15)
For those who enjoy political history, this paperback explores the links between the alcohol industry and capitalism, colonialism, and environmental destruction. The author, a Canadian journalist, demonstrates the failure of both prohibition and deregulation, and focuses on why alcohol policy should be at the heart of any socialist movement.
Sam Temsah-Deniskin (Independently published, $30)
This is a cocktail and dessert book intended to pack a “boozy, sugar-filled punch” each season of the year. Recipes span from Fruity Cereal Tarts and rosé cocktails to Spiked Red Velvet Hot Cocoa.
Jillian Vose, Jack McGarry, and Sean Muldoon (Harvest, $28)
From NYC bar The Dead Rabbit, this book is a collection of cocktail recipes featuring Irish whiskey. It also includes an illustrated guide to the stages of whiskey production and the differences between the various styles of whiskey, plus flavor wheels and tasting notes.
Sammy Hagar’s Cocktail Hits: 85 Personal Favorites from the Red Rocker
Sammy Hagar with James O. Fraioli (Skyhorse Publishing and Culinary Book Creations, $30).
The Van Halen frontman-turned-spirits entrepreneur and restaurateur offers a collection of cocktail recipes that celebrate the vibes of Hawaii, Vegas, and South of the Border. The forward is written by Guy Fieri, with whom Hagar co-created Santo Tequila and Mezquila.