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One of my pre-pandemic joys was sitting at a cocktail bar reading a book. I got to enjoy the atmosphere of the bar, a tasty cocktail, and a wonderful book. Better yet if it’s outside on a slightly too warm night…
Between the pandemic and my 2020 pregnancy, cocktails were off the table. Now, I’ve started to try making them at home, starting with my favorite cocktail, the Pisco Sour. As a result, cocktail books are golden to try to replicate my favorite cocktails or try to find new and exciting flavors at home. Plus it’s a great way to deepen my knowledge on the history of mixology. Here’s a list of five recent cocktail books to whet your palette.
The Alchemist Cocktail Book: Master the Dark Arts of Mixology by The Alchemist (9/1/21)
I’m really excited about this cocktail book because it’s from my favorite cocktail bar in the world: The Alchemist in London, England. Imagine all the best parts of molecular gastronomy applied to drinks, but in a much more affordable and approachable way. They like to create exciting and delicious drinks, using the many chemistry tools in their arsenal to make the drinks fun. My personal favorite involves something akin to a Bunsen Burner, smoke, and two tea cups. I’m excited about what they’ll share in the book. There’s going to be a chapter on Chemistry & Theatre, so that’s exciting. Maybe I won’t use any blowtorches at home but it’ll be fun to see what we can do!
The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido (6/01/21)
Award-winning Urushido shares his incredible knowledge of Japanese cocktails in his first cocktail book. He was behind Katana Kitten, a Japanese cocktail bar in NYC that has won awards for its work. This book has 80 recipes that showcase Japan’s incredible cocktails. It also has discussions of drink crafting techniques and beautiful photography.
Gotham City Cocktails: Official Handcrafted Food & Drinks from the World of Batman by André Darlington and Ted Thomas
Some people want to be Batman, while others want to drink like him. Or rather drink like we too are in the world of Gotham. This is the first official and just released cocktail book with 70 recipes based on the characters in Batman’s world, including Commissioner Gordon. I didn’t know I wanted Poison Ivy’s Rose Mojito or The Batman. Enjoy your love of the DC world with these tasty cocktails.
Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails by Shannon Mustipher
This award-winning book is for all the tiki lovers out there. It’s a combination of drink recipes, beautiful photographs, advice on technique and even setting up a mood. Mustipher said in a Liquor interview: “The main thrust of the book is to demystify Tiki by focusing on ingredients and flavors. I want the reader to gain confidence in their knowledge of the ingredients and how to apply them in a cocktail.” Mustipher was the beverage director at the now closed Gladys. It’s also heralded as “the first cocktail recipe book written by a working African American bartender and released by a major publisher in more than 100 years” by the LA Times 2019.
Spirits, Sugar, Water, Bitters: How the Cocktail Conquered the World by Derek Brown and Robert Yule
The book gets its name from Harry Coswell, editor of several Federalist newspapers: “Cock tail , then, is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters” in 1806. If you can’t tell, this book really likes to dive into the history of cocktails, going as far back as Paleolithic times through the present day. Most chapters end with a period specific cocktail like the Fish House Punch, a popular drink of President George Washington and his contemporaries. Full disclosure: Derek Brown is the teacher of my Atlas Obscura class and it’s been quite enjoyable. As a historian, I appreciate getting a lesson in the history of cocktails in America.