Whether you’re sizing up your spring break reading material or contemplating drinks to mix for a Mother’s Day brunch or graduation party, the latest crop of books about cocktails and spirits offers plenty of page-turners for the season ahead.
A fun concept from sibling food-and-drink writers André and Tenaya Darlington, this book showcases 70 iconic albums from the 1930s through the 2000s. Each album includes a Side A and Side B cocktail to round out a two-drink “listening session,” plus party tips to help set the mood.
Amid rising demand for mocktails, this book may find a place on bartender shelves. To be clear, this is not Mocktails 101; the recipes are highly sophisticated and can be calibrated to make nonalcoholic “clean” drinks or boozy “dirty” versions. It’s ideal for those who enjoy a good cooking challenge.
Richard Carleton Hacker, who has written guides to pipe smoking and cigars, now gives spirits the same treatment, lavishly illustrated with more than 400 full-color photos of cocktails, distilleries and spirits-world luminaries.
A slimmer, more casual companion to Morgenthaler's comprehensive “The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique” (Chronicle Books, $30,) look for snarky attention paid to topics such as barfing (“this should probably read ‘no shots’”) and drinking in the bathtub (“mixing a lot of alcohol with slippery wet surfaces is a really bad idea”) woven alongside practical advice about drink making and consuming, with 12 cocktail recipes.
Each entry in this book pays homage to a notable woman—activists, athletes, scientists—accompanied by cocktails created by top female bartenders. The drinks are on-trend and range from easy to elaborate. For example, a bio of distillery founder Rita Taketsuru, whose work led to the birth of Nikka Japanese whisky, is paired with the Uisuki cocktail by Chicago’s Julia Momose, featuring Nikka, of course.
The backlash against baroque cocktail books continues with this colorful home-bartender-friendly tome. True to the name, each recipe indeed contains just one bottle of spirits. Prepare to raid the kitchen for drinks like the New World Spritz (watermelon, plus rum, lime and tonic water), a pitcher drink ideal for brunches and barbecues.
A compilation from the editors of drinks site Punch, this book is bursting with ideas for low-alcohol session drinks, defined as containing no more than 3/4-ounce spirits. Look for creative cocktails from top bartenders made with fortified wines and vermouth, aperitivos like Cocchi Americano aperitivo and Suze liqueur, and lots of bubbles. The drink photos, taken by Punch editor Lizzie Munro, are sleek and aspirational, meaning you will want to make all of these drinks.
This slim, colorful book by London bartender and spirits expert Jesse Estes offers a crash course in what agave-spirit-based cocktails look like right now. Expect plenty of Margarita variations, but Estes also loops around to the bitter-and-stirred style—a popular format for mezcal drinks right now—“long, refreshing” drinks in the style of the Paloma, and short spicies like the Sangrita.
This easy-reading history of American nightclubs zips around to 25 (mostly) long-gone hot spots, plus recipes for dishes and cocktails that might have been served at each, such as French 75s at New York’s storied Stork Club.
Mixing your cocktail